Jaguar’s redesigned XF Keeps Its Sports-car Soul 2

The Jaguar XF has been redesigned for 2016 with a new aluminum-intensive architecture, revised exterior and the choice of two supercharged V-6 engines.

Jaguar has often used aluminum to reduce weight, and the all-wheel-drive XF is 265 pounds lighter than the outgoing model. The rear-wheel-drive version is 132 pounds lighter. Lighter weight means better fuel economy and the new car is rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

In addition to the new aluminum-intensive architecture, other changes include a more vertical front end, shorter front overhang, a 2-inch longer wheelbase and new rear quarter windows.

The XF still has the soul of a sports car lurking inside its svelte sedan body. Nearly ideal weight distribution enables the car to tackle turns with confidence and security. Jaguar’s press materials indicate that “aerodynamics are improved by using vents in the front bumper to channel air over the front wheels. This helps to prevent the turbulent wheel wake from disturbing the smooth laminar airflow passing around the car.”

There are four trim levels, each available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Prices start at $51,900 for the 340-horsepower Premium and top out at $65,700 for the 380-horsepower all-wheel-drive S. The car I drove from Jaguar’s press fleet was a rear-wheel-drive S with the 380-horsepower, supercharged V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

For added security in all the warmest of climates, I would opt for the all-wheel-drive version as long as the additional $3,000 is not a wallet buster.

Performance and handling are balanced with comfort and enough room for four people to ride comfortably. Thanks to supercharging, the power band is wide enough so that you don’t have to work the engine hard in everyday traffic.

The eight-speed automatic transmission is a perfect match for this engine. Jaguar says it shifts “in just 200 milliseconds, or four times faster than the average human resting heartbeat.” Shift paddles on the steering wheel enable the driver to take control at any time.

The test car’s cabin was pleasant and serene. The instrument panel now has a curved design that is similar to that of the XJ, and it extends into the door panels. Vents in the instrument panel open when the car is started and close when it is turned off.

The main instrument cluster is a thin-film-transistor LCD panel that looks like an analog speedometer but its appearance and function can be changed. The audio and navigation systems are controlled through a 10.2-inch touch screen or by knobs on the lower part of the instrument panel. Jaguar’s menu system always seems a bit complex so having redundant switches for the climate control is helpful.

Wind and road noise are nicely muted and the seats are widely adjustable. The leather seats have excellent lateral and lumbar support. Keyless entry, heated front seats, split-folding rear seats and a Meridian audio system were part of the test car’s standard equipment. Navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius satellite radio, blind-spot monitor and a rearview camera were also included.

PRICE: The test car’s base price was $62,700. Options included black metallic paint, black trim, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, electric rear sunshade, four-zone climate control, suede cloth headliner, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, park assist, head-up display and black 20-inch wheels. The sticker price was $75,145.

WARRANTY: Five years or 60,000 miles.

POINT: The restyled XF S bears a strong resemblance to the previous model but it is sleeker, lighter, longer and better looking. The supercharged V-6 delivers ample power at all speeds. The aluminum architecture saves more than 200 pounds and that results in improved fuel economy.

COUNTERPOINT: The all-black test car needed some bright accents to give it more personality.