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Jaguar XF: A real luxury sedan.

Byline: Hannah Elliott

Jaguar XF sedan

Base price: $51,000; for XFR-S: $99,000

Most luxury cars these days have leather seats.

But most don't retain the thick scent of a Hermes saddle shop when you sit inside.

The Jaguar XF does. If you close your eyes and inhale as you slip behind the wheel, you could be forgiven a momentary pause. The tanned essence lingers even after the initial impression. It's the first hint of this car's aristocratic credentials.

I do like how this cat looks: hips slightly tucked, svelte sides and roofline, arched kitten nose. The profile of the car follows the line of the jumping Jaguar logo. The daytime running LED head- and rear-lights are slanted slightly to make it look just a little coy. The 20-inch silver alloy rims, lattice grille, and delicate nostrils on the hood entice with a subtle purr. (Splurge on the $1,600 Black package, if you feel tempted. It includes 20-inch black alloy wheels, glass back-window surrounds, a trunk-lid finisher, and red brake calibers.)

It looks good. Simple, but not plain.

The $51,000 XF is the smaller of Jag's two sedans, the one with an eight-speed automatic transmission set to paddle shifters and all-wheel drive available on the optional 340- horsepower V6 engine. (A 240-horsepower four-cylinder and 470- horsepower V8 are also available; the Supercharged XFR-S version costs $99,000.)

It has three drive modes (winter mode included) and a start/stop function that engages automatically from the moment you start the car. I did disengage that about 10 minutes into use--the way it constantly silences the engine at stoplights is a buzz kill -- but it's easy to re-engage with the push of a button if you're feeling frugal.

Jaguar has integrated adaptive steering and an exceptional chassis into this prowler, so the XF feels nimble around corners and like velvet on its way to 60 mph. (Sprint time is 4.9 seconds on the V8.) The brakes are impressive -- never raw but incredibly alert and ever present. They act like springs in the shoulders of a jungle minx.Inside the Den.

The trimming inside this car fits its exterior look and price point well.

The soft black Alcantara across the ceiling, the brushed matte steel accents on the dash, the vent covers, and the smooth layer of genuine rosewood throughout all work to cosset the driver and four passengers without stifling them. I like the crisp dial display front-and-center on the dash, especially the analog clock smack in the middle. It let me glance at the time in half a blink -- virtually no time with eyes off the road.

I will admit that the 7-inch touchscreen in the center took a few minutes for me to acclimate to; it eventually became usable -- if not supremely efficient--for controlling the climate, navigation, seat warmers, and 380-watt Meridian sound system. The interior tech systems from BMW Group (see: BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce) are far more intuitive.

The shiny black surfaces along the center console certainly look elegant, but they aren't great from a practical standpoint: They hold fingerprints like a detective's wildest dream.

Another quibble here is the space, or lack thereof, in the rear seats.

Jag's updated 2016 XF will arrive later this fall. That redesign will offer more aggressive styling, more AWD options, and more power in each engine variant.

It's probably worth waiting for, if you've got the patience.
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Author:Elliott, Hannah
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 3, 2015
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