Jaguar XF SV8 (Supercharged): Of Desire and Decadence
By Alex Ricciuti
I pushed the start button and ‘That’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it’ blared from the radio. Several metal panels on the dash turned around and revealed themselves to be air vents. The car began to breathe. A knob arose from the transmission tunnel, awaiting my touch. Yes, indeed, I do like it.
That knob was the innovative rotary shift known as the JaguarDrive Selector. A simple knob used to engage the automatic transmission which is the easiest gear shifter you have yet to see. Unfortunately, it looks a little too much like the iDrive on a BMW, so, one must be careful or you may find yourself suddenly in neutral as you’re trying to change channels on the radio.
But that is really the worst thing you can say about the XF SV8. It is of such supple, delicate construction, the kind of classic car you always imagined a Jaguar to be. The kind of Jag Jags should have always been but often haven’t. If this is the car that is supposed to allow Jaguar to reclaim itself as a truly sexy, luxury brand then Jaguar may be on its way to accomplishing that feat.
The XF has a spot-on feline character. The variable-ratio power steering is reactive and light to the touch. The car’s grip is intense around bends but keeps the driver poised above it all. That’s due to Jaguar’s CATS adaptive-damping system where the dynamics on the road are sporty and tight but with a soft and silent ride that tip-toes effortlessly over rough patches. The suspension is soundly tuned, pitch-perfect, somewhere between notes of comfort and performance.
The supercharged version of the XF, called the SV8, also provides a fairly rousing purr from under the hood, far more than you really need to enjoy the qualities of this Jaguar. With its 4.2 liter V8 pumped up to 420 hp, it will take you and anyone else who happens to be along for the ride from 0-to-100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds. Fuel economy is spare enough, I guess, given the number of horses. 12,6 liters/100km in mixed driving, which can likely be credited to the slick aerodynamics since the XF needs to watch its diet, weighing in at 1964 kg, about 200kg more than a comparable BMW 5 series.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Sitting in this cockpit, you, well, just enjoy sitting there. Design is supreme and strikes the right stylistic balance between retro and modernist functionality as form. A wood finishing is seamlessly integrated with the metallic dashboard panel and fine leather seats. The interior design creates the most fitting tone and ambiance you can imagine. It’s like a set design in a Hitchcock thriller, it’s all mood and it defines the car. Sitting in the cockpit there is a certain air of classical elegance that takes you into the past and back again. Buyers even have a choice of American Walnut, Burl Walnut or Rich Oak. Now, with options like those you may feel like you’re decorating your living room. Well, this car does have a TV.
This Jaguar is a film noir – all desire and decadence. Women meet their lovers in this Jag. Yes, Jaguar has put the romance back in the automobile. You want classic chic? This car has a TV in the on-board computer display – that is; not on the back of the seats for your kids to watch. Because, this Jag is for adults only.
If you’re going to spend 62,000 dollars on a car, you should want one that gives you something more than a premium badge, a solid and powerful ride, and a luxurious feel. Don’t you? You want a car that’s a flirt — with you, with everyone around. You want adventurous and shameless decadence on display. You want…you want this car, don’t you?
Alex Ricciuti is a freelance writer and automotive journalist based in Zurich, Switzerland. He writes frequently for Automotive News Europe. He also blogs on all things automotive at eurocarguy.blogspot.com.
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