The Brits are at it again. Thankfully.
Jaguar is like the Royal Family when it comes to fashion. Sometimes the Queen, princesses and duchesses truly lead global fashion. And sometimes they get so caught up in their own ideas that style falls by the wayside.
The current era of Jaguar is sort of like Princess Kate: modern, smart, beautiful. Evolved to connect with what matters most at the moment.
I wasn’t expecting this when I drove the 2017 Jaguar XF S All Wheel Drive recently. But I was completely smitten.
Who This Car is For
- Buyers who want an aesthetically joyous experience in a car
- Buyers who appreciate top technology
- Drivers who want a powerful driving experience, but not all the time
- Sedan drivers who like that close-to-the-road feeling
- Buyers seeking a reward—and for whom $65,000+ is not a hardship
- Singles, couples or small families
- Drivers who regularly have a second passenger and occasionally, a third or fourth
- Buyers who won’t mind people stopping and asking about their car
A modern princess leaves ’em speechless in her wake
The thing we love the most about Princess Kate is that she exudes confidence and style; her sense of shape, color and proportion are enhanced by her warm and welcoming tone. The XF S left me feeling that way, stylish, fresh and yet comfortable. And with Jaguar’s recent focus on reliability and modern design (keep reading for more on that), I felt completely confident in this car, too.
Want to turn heads and spark questions? You’ll also get a thumbs up from other women
The week I drove the Jaguar heads turned to see the beautiful car that just dove by, people stopped to ask about it and friends wanted to know more.
But the best moment was driving on a back road of New Milford, Connecticut with my friend Amy. We came upon a Jaguar F Type convertible, driven by a woman and her friend; as we passed them I lightly tapped the horn. Soon they were next to us, hands in the air, excited to see we were having fun in the XF. We drove in tandem for a while then waved good-bye when they reached their turn. I love those fun, precious moments of girlfriend kismet.
The luxury of smart technology
Like all luxury items, Jaguar seeks to wow you with all it can do. And while it took some time to discover all the tech features, it is intuitive and smart. My favorite features include:
- Head up display that projects key driver information onto the windshield
- Navigation display on the driver’s dashboard and/or touch screen (your choice)
- Touchscreen images fill the screen, giving it a more cinematic feel
- Driver’s dashboard lets you toggle through dozens of screens and set up information displays exactly the way you want to see it
- Speed and speed limit is displayed in the speedometer
- A seating graphic that lets you see who in the car is making the seat-belt warning chime
I could get used to this: A bespoke interior
Bespoke is a term the British love to use to signal something that was made just for you. A tailored suit, a hand-stitched bag, a thoughtfully crafted experience. The Jaguar’s interior felt this way, too: gorgeous stitched leather covers seats, door panels and the top of the dash; brushed aluminum and ebony wood trim that frames the dashboard; and rear seats that cradle you: you feel like THIS is where you belong, no matter how much you like sitting in the driver’s seat.
Probably the thing I liked the most about the interior is that when you turn the car off, it puts its things away: The dial gear selector retracts into the console and the air vents tuck away into the dashboard. This, with the dark touch screen, let you leave the car with a feeling of calm.
Why you shouldn’t be afraid to buy a Jaguar
Ah, the Jaguar legacy: Beautiful cars that are constantly broken down. It used to be a sign of affluence that you could afford the repair bills. But Jaguar would rather see you tooling around town in its car, not a rental, so they took care of that. After significantly improving the reliability of its cars, the company introduced a 5 year bumper to bumper warranty and care program—all scheduled maintenance is complimentary—and a 24/7 roadside assistance program so buyers feel assured they can rely on their new car. No worries. Period.
Reason #2 why you should consider buying a Jaguar
You’re buying a British crown jewel. Yes, Jaguar has had a few owners, including Ford (thank Ford for getting the bugs out of the reliability issue and building what would become Jaguar’s performance engines) and current owner, India’s Tata Motors (which pumped another $8+ billion into the company).
But Jaguar is still the pride of England and its models are still designed and built there. In fact, head designer Ian Callum is a graduate of London’s Royal College of Art and has been the guiding force behind the new era of Jaguar (though he, too, was part of Jaguar’s Ford era).
The result of Tata’s investment and Ian Callum’s direction is a car that truly exceeds expectations, from its exterior appeal to the upholstery and interior design, to some fun, smart features that make it a pure pleasure to drive–or to let it drive.
This car parks itself. Almost as well as I can. (OK, maybe better)
Yes, you read that right: it can park itself. Here’s how the self parking feature works: Tap the self park icon on the touch screen, hit your turn signal the Jaguar will kick into self park mode. Once it finds a spot, a notification appears on the dash. You maintain the car’s speed with the brake and/or gas pedal, following the car’s instructions for switching to reverse and drive. The Jaguar will back the car into a parking spot and will notify you when it’s done. You can watch the entire show on the touch screen since you’re in reverse most of the time.
We tested this out in a perpendicular parking spot, but it works with parallel parking, too. The Jag did pretty well! The XF S backed into the spot, leaving equal distances between itself and the cars on either side and a comfortable distance between it and the stone wall so I could still get to the trunk if I needed to.
Caveats to the self parking feature are that it takes a little practice to get used to using it, it’s hard to do if you have cars on your tail and it needs a defined parking space to pull into. Also, for perpendicular parking it will back into the space, which isn’t always kosher, so be sure head-in parking isn’t required before using this feature.
We actually let the Jaguar park itself while we were live on Facebook. Here’s the video:
You, the Jag, the road = love
I’m not a thrill seeker, but when I first told some friends I’d be test-driving the XF S, I got drooling jealously from my friend Chris. I immediately wondered if the XF S would be too performance focused for me? After all, its engine technology takes some cues from the Jaguar F Type, a favorite of performance drivers. The XF S (S stands for Sport) is the top of the XF model line and with 380 horsepower (versus 340-575 HP for the F Type), was peppy to drive and gave a pretty thrilling performance in sport mode. Not wanting to thrill my kids all that much, I mostly drove it in eco mode, where it didn’t feel like eco at all; it was responsive and fun to drive.
I was also very comfortable with the size of the XF S. A mid-size sedan, it was easy to drive and park but also comfortable for all my passengers.
Don’t let the eco mode fool you: there’s a beast in there
Yes I love eco mode, and yes, I’d buy a performance car that lets me drive in eco mode most of the time. Then, when I want to hug mountain curves and push a car to perform like a beast, I can pound the paddle shifters and do that, too.
Then, Jaguar takes this a step further. The all wheel drive system gives you snow and ice capability and the All Surface Progress Control system (the button between the drive mode selector and the parking brake) gives even more control in conditions such as mud, ice and snow. The ASPC system combines low speed cruise control with the selected drive mode or downhill braking to slowly help the car pull out of the muck.
What the airlines should learn from Jaguar
I wish I could take the credit for the line my daughter uttered after sinking into the backseat of the XF S. “The airlines should learn something about seats from Jaguar,” she said. And she’s right.
Rear legroom is not overly spacious, but you wouldn’t know it. Jaguar’s designers sculpted the rear seats to cup its passengers; your rear end sinks back into the seat while your legs rise at a slight angle, so the space feels larger and more comfortable than similarly sized back seats. Add to that the heated seats, climate control, two 12V power ports and back seat passengers are well cared for. I might just turn into a princess and let someone else do the driving. Then again, thinking of the drive experience the XF S offers, maybe not.
What We Loved
- Beautiful exterior design
- Bespoke interior including stitched leather with wood and aluminum trim
- Head up display
- Adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitors
- Adaptive high beam headlights
- Cinematic-feeling touch screen
- Dial gear selector
- Multiple drive modes including eco and sport
- All wheel drive
- Super comfortable heated rear seats
- Keyless and remote key fob adorned with a chrome Jaguar
- 5 year bumper to bumper warranty and included maintenance
What You Need to Know
- Oversized but not panoramic sun roof
- Adaptive cruise and self parking are included in the Driver Assist package (included on this model)
- Built in England
- 20 MPG city/28 MPG highway (we averaged about 23)
- Premium fuel recommended
- One USB port (in the arm rest) and three 12 V power ports (one in the arm rest and two on the back of the center console)
- Seating for five passengers but more comfortable for four
- The deep rear seats may prove challenging for a child car seat
- Price of the model we drove: $66,695
- People are gonna check you out
Disclosure: Jaguar provided the XF S for my test drive; opinions are all my own.