Jaguar XF Portfolio performs, pampers
By JOHN STEIN Automotive Editor August 22, 2012 1:52PM
2012 JAGUAR XF PORTFOLIO
ENGINE: 385-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: rear-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 16 city/23 highway
BASE PRICE: $59,500
AS TESTED: not available
Two things strike you when you see and hear the 2012 Jaguar XF: One, it does not look like anything on the road; two, the growl under the hood demands attention.
Jaguar’s XF is nothing short of an amazing-looking sedan. And this big cat’s performance is one of the reasons to consider buying it. As long as it competes with the eight-cylinder versions of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series, the bar is going to be set high — but the XF holds its own.
On the outside this XF does not hearken back to its English heritage with predictable styling or retro cues that have adorned decades of Jags. This is especially welcome news when you get a look at the revamped 2012 sheet metal that delivers distinctly aggressive lines and features a more refined upright grille (more like the XJ) as the introductory statement. Whether it’s the new LED taillamp treatment that flows into the rear deck lid or the great-looking alloy rims, this Jaguar has a sporty feel that takes a step past the other luxury competitors.
I spent a week in the Jaguar XF Portfolio, the middle child in a lineup that starts with the base XF ($53,300) and moves to Portfolio ($59,500), Supercharged ($68,100) and the XFR ($82,000). My tester featured a rich Polaris White hue that managed to be athletic while remaining completely sophisticated.
Inside the serene cabin, front-row seating is roomy and luxurious, featuring Portfolio upgraded leather throughout and wonderful two-tone stitching on the dash and doors. Generous 18-way power seats envelop driver and front passenger. My tester featured adjustable bottom cushion length and side bolster settings. Rounding out the seating experience were heating and cooling settings as well as a heated steering wheel.
Second-row passengers do not have the same roomy spaces afforded the front row. My rear passengers said they felt a bit confined for legroom. It is odd with such huge rear doors — once you open them to enter, you are confronted by a surprisingly small space to place your feet.
The XF’s dash treatment is a refined offering that feels much more luxurious than performance oriented. And I didn’t mind one bit. It was contemporary, intuitive and easy to read all gauges. However, the infotainment center, a touch-screen system offering a menu of operating functions, is easy to see but incredibly cumbersome when making even the simplest changes. I also felt it was too slow to respond to commands. Annoyed at times with the delay, I found myself wondering if I had actually pressed the button.
My XF Portfolio had an optional 1200-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system ($2,300). For audiophiles this is an easy upgrade to make at any cost. Audio quality is outstanding and the leather dash features a raised speaker touting the Bowers & Wilkins logo. At first I considered it a bit over the top amid the sea of beautiful leather, but as the week went on I began to like it.
The rear-wheel-drive Jaguar XF wonderfully blends performance with luxury and the base 385-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 is a pleasure to push hard and to ride aimlessly for long, reeling strands of pavement. The six-speed automatic transmission delivered smooth and responsive shifts, and the paddle shifters provided some options for me to break with convention and play a bit more.
Jaguar offers an upgrade on performance with a 470-horsepower XF Supercharged and a crazy-powerful 510-horsepower XFR.
The XF manages an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. Nothing to brag about and surely nothing green can be said about this cat’s thirst for fuel; however, it was an extraordinary week of driving that was both fun and relaxing at every turn with a firm chassis that offered good steering feedback in every instance.
The XF Portfolio includes standard features such as keyless start, touch-screen navigation with voice command, paddle shifters for the six-speed automatic transmission, heated seats, signature soft grain leather upholstery, climate-controlled power seats, smart-key entry, backup camera and adaptive front lighting.
I really think the Jaguar XF is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that before?” vehicles. It competes as a V-8 with some lofty German and Japanese models and manages to look unique and attractive while handling as good as any.
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