Generally speaking, I don’t get too upset about the growing need to replace displacement in modern cars. Sure, there are exceptions (don’t you touch my 6.2-liter AMG V8), but honestly, the industry’s new forced induction powertrains are all lovely, and their gains in fuel economy – when they actually make good on them – can make up for the ever-so-slight losses in performance or driving character.
But I’m having a hard time keeping my chin up with this Jaguar XF. For the 2013 model year, Jaguar has killed off the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 and fitted a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with an eight-speed automatic in its place (and even offers a turbocharged four-cylinder engine below that). That all sounds perfectly well and good, but a week behind the wheel of this British Racing Green sedan just left me missing that V8. And then some.
- It’s funny, with excellent new products like the XJ and F-Type, the XF is really starting to show its age in some areas, especially inside its cabin. Thankfully, the svelte XF still looks great as ever on the outside, and I’m really digging the smoothed-out headlamp treatment that was fitted for the 2012 model year.
- The XF continues to garner attention from pedestrians in a way that the BMW 5 Series simply cannot. I love the kinda-sorta British Racing Green of this test car, and the 20-inch Hydra five-spoke alloy wheels really round out the whole athletic design, though they’re a costly option – $3,075 for the set – and do nothing to improve this XF’s hefty $69,420 bottom line.
- Like I said, though, the problems with the XF are found inside. The cabin is noisy at highway speeds, with lots of audible wind noise penetrating the glasshouse, and overall, the materials used here just feel a bit dated. I still hate the gimmicky thou-shault-have-air electronic vents, and the onboard technology is tough to use and very, very slow to respond to touch. Huge losses in an otherwise very tech-savvy segment.
- The supercharged V6 is rated at 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque – decreases of 40 hp and 48 lb-ft versus the naturally aspirated V8. The good news is, thanks to a better power curve, the deficits don’t affect acceleration, with Jaguar quoting the same 5.7-second 0-60 time for both the 2012 5.0 and 2013 3.0 models.
- Another part of the reason for the 0-60 time not changing is due to weight. The new powertrain technology is a bit lighter than the outgoing V8/six-speed setup, and a full 165 pounds has been shaved off the car’s curb weight in the process.
- The other gain for the V6 – fuel economy – looks great on paper. Jaguar reports EPA fuel economy figures of 17 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for this new XF 3.0, which represent increases of 1/5/2 mpg (city/highway/combined) versus the 5.0 V8 model.
- The bad news is that, after my week of driving, my combined fuel economy number of 18.6 mpg was slightly less than the old rating. I put the XF through a pretty even mix of city and highway driving, so I was certainly expecting better. Colleagues have expressed disappointment with fuel economy here, as well, so I don’t think I’m alone.
- On top of that, while I generally like the new eight-speed automatic transmission, it’s not great for moments of driving enthusiasm. Often times, the gearbox fired off really hard shifts and struggled to find the right gear. A shame, since my recent experience with the same new ZF eight-speed in the Range Rover Sport was completely without fault.
- Generally, though, the XF is still a peach to drive. For me, it still falls behind the Audi A6 in terms of great-to-drive dynamics, but I appreciate the XF’s light steering and relatively good suspension tuning. There’s a bit more body roll than I’d like here, and the whole package just doesn’t have that same sort of vault-like solidity on the road that the Germans have managed to perfect, but generally speaking, it’s a fine steer.
- Problem is, without noticeable fuel economy improvements here, I really still prefer the dynamic of the naturally aspirated V8 XF – it was one of my favorite packages in the midsize luxury class. Thankfully, Jaguar now offers all-wheel drive on the V6 cars, which will surely help sales in snow belt states, and you can still get the rip-roaring V8 in the Supercharged and XFR trims.
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Quick Spin: 2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 Supercharged