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2010 Jaguar XF Introduction

The Jaguar XF is a fresh, engaging and stunningly gorgeous alternative to luxury cars such as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and Lexus GS. After our test drives, we'd rank the Jaguar XF near the top of a class in which there are no unappealing entries.

The Jaguar XF delivers everything you'd expect in a contemporary luxury sedan, and then some, in styling, interior design, features, technology, driving behavior and overall impeccable luxury. The hardware underneath is anything but ordinary, much of it shared with the sporty Jaguar XK. Factor in a well-engineered body structure, and the Jaguar XF is exactly what it should be: smooth, quiet and responsive. This mid-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan feels lighter and more agile than some of the other cars in this class, and it bears up like a top-rank sports sedan when driven aggressively.

The 2010 Jaguar XF line includes four trim levels and four V8 engine choices. All XF models offer the full Jaguar experience of luxury, elegance, performance, ride and handling. The standard XF is one of the best equipped base models in this class.

The XF marks a fresh design direction for Jaguar, but includes themes that have identified the brand for decades. The swooping roofline and side glass are intended to create the impression of a sleek two-door coupe more than a four-door sedan, which is what it is, and to a considerable extent it works.

The same level of appeal is found inside; it's an interior we really like, both for its look and its overall function. Slide into the driver's seat and an interactive greeting that Jaguar calls the handshake, with the aluminum shift knob rising out of the console, welcomes the driver with the reminder that this will be an active process. The wood, wool and leather create the expected Jaguar feel and scent of an exclusive British club room, but the design itself is light, modern and airy. There's a minimalist feel to it, but it's also charming and makes familiarization easy.

The swoopy, coupe-like styling has its drawbacks, and the biggest should be obvious: That flowing roofline and raked rear glass mean rear headroom is tight, and it feels more confining than, say, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or the Audi A6. On the upside, the XF trunk is larger than those of the competitors, and a folding rear seat offers expanded capacity. The importance of the loss of rear-seat headroom or the enhanced trunk capacity will depend upon the buyer's priorities.

We think there's no doubt the Jaguar XF is one of the most appealing choices in this wonderful class. It offers a viable alternative to the densely packed switches, multi-layered interfaces and alphabet-soup of electronic gadgets and wizardry that typifies many other choices in the luxury/sports sedan category, and does it with charm, distinctively stunning good looks and certainly no less cachet or driving dynamic capability.

The XF was introduced for the 2009 model year. For 2010, XF has some significant changes. In 2009, all the V8 engine choices were 4.2 liters displacement. For 2010, the base version has the same normally aspirated 4.2-liter, 300-horsepower V8 as before, but above that are three Gen III 5.0-liter V8s, one normally aspirated and rated at 385 horsepower, and two that are supercharged, one rated at 470 horsepower and the other at 510. These Gen III engines have an industry-first spray-guided direct fuel-injection system, which enhances efficiency and allows higher compression ratios. The engines also have variable camshaft timing on all four camshafts and reduced friction. The normally aspirated version has a variable-geometry intake manifold to enhance the torque range, and the 510-horsepower supercharged version has a high-efficiency twin-vortex supercharger.

The Gen III engines are built with a new lightweight aluminum block design with cast-in iron cylinder liners and cross-bolted main-bearing caps to reduce noise, vibration and harshness, and the cylinder heads are made from a recycled aluminum alloy. The Gen III engine is also shorter, allowing for better packaging, and all of them have 15,000-mile service intervals, compared to a 10,000-mile interval for the 4.2-liter engine. The result of all this powertrain improvement is a collection of engines that are not only quite powerful, but also deliver very commendable fuel economy for their levels of performance. All engines are matched with a very smooth, electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission.

Other changes for 2010 include a new XFR model (fitted with the 510-horsepower supercharged V8), a luxurious Portfolio option package, and upgraded features across the line.

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