2008 Jaguar XF Supercharged

A Powerful Alternative

2008 Jaguar XF Supercharged

There is a mystique surrounding the top of the line Supercharged model that makes it hard to remember what the other engine option is. For the record, the standard XF Luxury model comes with a 300hp V8, as does the Premium Luxury model. The V8 in the XF Supercharged, however, produces 420 hp and 408 ft-lbs of torque, which is a problem because you are tempted to think this is a sports sedan. But it is not.

FAST FACTS

1. With 420hp for a Supercharged 4.2-liter V-8, it’s more powerful than a BMW 550 or Mercedes E550.

2. Size wise, it sits directly between a 5 Series and 7 Series.

3. An incredibly comfortable and effortlessly fast sporty luxury sedan.

A sporty luxury sedan yes, but the sport remains the adjective, and the luxury is truly the focal point of this car. This is not to discredit Jaguar, as we’re convinced this is exactly what they had in mind.

MASH THE THROTTLE AND RELAX

Even the application of all that power does not interfere with the comfortable Jaguar experience. Punch the throttle from a light and the car lifts up and effortlessly leaves traffic in your rearview mirror. Had you looked down at the dash during this experiment you would have noticed the traction control light flashing a rapid Morse code S.O.S. message from the rear tires as they beg for mercy. Then again, don’t look at the dash, and you’d never know.

In a BMW we might call this feeling “far removed” from the driving experience, but in the XF it’s as though a Jaguar driver need not concern himself with such things. We should note that Jaguar has equipped the XF Supercharged with a traction control system that can be shut off (a dangerous move) or put in Trac mode – for serious fun.

Hop on a highway on-ramp and lay down maximum power and again, your senses don’t seem to grasp the full reality of what is going on. Part of the reason is that the car itself is mostly silent, even at wide-open throttle. The reality, however, is not just that you are accelerating at a good pace, but that you are really hauling. Jaguar claims a 5.2 second time to 60 mph and a 13.8 in the quarter mile.

Getting the Jag to hustle isn’t just effortless for the driver; it feels effortless for the car. This elitist vehicle mocks our highway speeds, turning over just 2000 rpm at 80 mph. You get the feeling the car is rolling its eyes and sighing at the posted speed limit, and that it could do 60 mph with the engine off. And even at speed it’s a vault of silence with almost zero exterior noise entering the cabin. Much of this has to do with the fact that the XF is the first Jaguar to be designed using CFD before it even saw a wind tunnel, meaning that it cuts a clean streak through the air with just a .29 drag coefficient. All this interior tranquility is excellent for ensuring the semi truck next to you doesn’t interfere with your appreciation of Handel’s Messiah.

SOFT BUT EFFECITVE: HANDLING & BRAKES

In the corners is where you discover that the XF is not a German car. The suspension seems to allow the car to roll initially and then it firms up, meaning that it can be driven hard, it just doesn’t inspire confidence.

The same can be said of the brakes. Jaguar purposefully engineered the brake pedal to have less initial bite, which means you often don’t feel the car will stop as well as it can. And yet it slows tremendously well, in just 106 feet from 60 mph!

As for the gearbox, this is one of the few cars that we wouldn’t ever want with a manual. (It just wouldn’t seem to suit a British saloon). The six-speed auto is easily as good as any Merc’s and gears down exceptionally well.

INTERIOR: BRITISH OPULENCE MEETS MINIMALISM

Inside, the cabin is exactly what you might expect. There is plenty of supple leather with real metal accents and a tasteful abundance of wood. Jaguar is one of the few companies that can get away with using polished metals with wood and we’re glad to see the designers managed to combine the company’s old-world heritage with state-of-the-art technology on this modern sedan.

Push the pulsating red engine Start button and the Jag comes to life. The smooth dash is instantly transformed as the vents rotate out from their hiding places and the JaguarDrive Rotary Gear Selector rises from the center console.

The experience might seem gimmicky, but rest assured there is a reason for it. With the XF, Jaguar set out with a particular design philosophy, namely, that the technology in the car should remain hidden until it is needed. One of the key benefits of this philosophy is that the car gets a touch-screen navigation system, which reduces the need for dash-cluttering buttons and knobs, while being inherently easier to use.

The XF does have one novelty feature we could do without, the Blind Spot Monitor system that lets you know if a car is in your blind spot by illuminating a light on the side view mirrors. It may be an important safety feature to some, but a good old-fashioned shoulder check works too. In exchange, we’d gladly take a motorized trunk that closes at the push of a button – it just seems a car of this stature shouldn’t be without one.

DRIVEWAY FACTOR

An important quality of any vehicle like this is how it looks in your driveway and for that the car gets huge points. It is both luxurious and large.

In fact, the XF is four inches longer and one inch wider than a BMW 5 Series and it is four inches longer and two inches wider thank an E-Class. That being said, it is actually closer in size to a 7 Series (being just 3-inches shorter).

Compared to the less powerful E550 and BMW 550i, the XF Supercharged gets equal fuel-economy in the city with 15 miles to the gallon and tops the others by one mpg on the highway with an EPA rating of 23.

THE VERDICT

With the XF, Jaguar has created a completely original design that still holds true to the Jaguar philosophy and will be attractive to a slightly wider audience while not scaring off traditional buyers (and we have a feeling Jag has a lot of repeat customers).

PLUS

Incredible power with torque Refined driving experience Minimalist and elegant interior is both modern and classical

MINUS

Suspension: too much initial lean Brakes: bite too soft Gauge/dash lighting too weak

We do think the car could use more responsive brakes and a stiffer suspension. A louder exhaust note wouldn’t hurt either.

As it stands, with an MSRP of just $64,475, the package is more than reasonable; especially considering the level of exclusivity it comes with. Besides, if your neighbor already owns a 5 Series or E-Class, the XF is certainly a well-played hand in a game of one-upmanship.

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