Quick Drive: 2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged
—Lake Orion, Michigan
The Jaguar XF Supercharged occupies a strange area in the market place. At $68,100 and 470 horsepower, it’s more expensive and more powerful than BMW 550i ($62,000, 400 horsepower) and Mercedes-Benz E550
($59,790, 402 horsepower). At the same time, it doesn’t pack the kind of punch or price tag that the M/AMG versions of those sedans (that’s why there’s an XFR).
Now, you could make the argument that, despite the Jag’s higher starting price, it is a direct competitor with the Mercedes and BMW (at least in dollar terms). This is because the XF Supercharged comes with a number of standard items that are optional on the 550i/E550. Paddle shifters, blind spot monitoring, heated/vented seats, adjustable dampers, keyless go, and a heated steering wheel are just a few of the Jag’s goodies that cost extra on the competition. Appropriately optioned, both the Mercedes and BMW eclipse the Jag’s $68,100 starting price (for the record, our comparable Germans both totaled out around $72,000). With that in mind, the XF Supercharged seems like a pretty reasonable deal. It gets better, though.
The 5.0-liter, supercharged V-8 was a very potent piece of metal. Acceleration was readily available all over the rev range, thanks to the torque peak being spread between 2500 and 5500 rpm. Punch the throttle below 100 miles per hour, and the XF will pull like a sports car. That in it self isn’t hugely impressive; what happens above 100 mph is. Even into triple digits, the Jag feels like it has plenty of grunt at its disposal. Top speed is limited to 155 mph
Body roll, while ever present, rarely did anything other than inform of what was going on between our vehicle and the road. Fore and aft damping was tightly controlled, which was a good thing, as the XF felt almost violent when we stomped on either pedal. Turn-in was sharp, with the Jag biting into the pavement well.
We’ve been using Audi as the benchmark for interiors over the years, but Jaguar is in hot pursuit. The materials in our XF Supercharged were top notch, with a beautiful leather-lined dash, and eye-pleasing wood accents. The seats were just firm enough, with plenty of lateral support. Back-seat space felt slightly cramped, despite only losing an inch of legroom compared to an Audi A6
Wind noise was very well managed at a variety of speeds. Road noise was slightly more noticeable, but was often overcome by even a reasonable stereo volume. No, the one exterior noise that infiltrated the cabin most readily was the gentle purr of the 5.0-liter V-8. We aren’t sure if Jag intended this or not, but you hear this thing at nearly every engine speed.
The XF felt planted over undulating roads, with little in the way of vertical motion. Over bumps and other imperfections, it transmitted some motion into the cabin, with only the properly big potholes disrupting the overall experience. Although there was some roll, it felt well controlled and progressive in the way it came on. Even when taking a corner at speed, we never had the sensation that we’d go sliding to the other side of the car.
The Jaguar XF Supercharged manages to strike a prime balance between sports and luxury, in the same way that its Germanic rivals have been doing for decades. The major difference is that it comes with a heaping helping of supercharger to speed affairs along. With a price that, once options are added, will likely undercut the competitors, and the aforementioned power and poise, the Jaguar XF Supercharged would be a hard car for us to turn away.
2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged
Engine: Supercharged V-8, 5.0 liters, 32v
Output: 470 hp/424 lb-ft
Weight: 4306 lb
0-60 MPH: 4.9 sec
Fuel Economy, City/Hwy: 15/21 mpg
Base Price: $68,100