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2012 Jaguar XF Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Jaguar XF was new.


Performance: 8.9

While most other luxury large cars have six-cylinder engines as standard equipment, the 2012 Jaguar XF puts an emphasis on performance. Base and Portfolio trims get a 385-horsepower V8 as standard equipment, while the XF Supercharged sees a boost to 470 ponies. Buyers can also opt for the top-of-the-line XFR, which puts out 510 horsepower. Reviewers note that the Jaguar XF has excellent handling, but say it falls short without an all-wheel drive option, which is available on rivals like the Infiniti M, BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

  • "The 2012 Jaguar XF's smooth, hushed demeanor allows for comfortable long-distance journeys, yet there's also a level of performance that's unexpected for a Jaguar sedan." -- Edmunds
  • "The one aspect of the performance goodies we aren't overly impressed with is the electronic differential. Like most e-diffs, the XF Supercharged uses its ABS system to modulate the brakes to control wheel spin, resulting in a plume of brake fumes after a hard drive. Not to confuse the issue, but the electronic differential works just fine, it's just that if we were buying the car, we'd want a mechanical diff or one of the trick new e-diffs employed by Audi (S4) or BMW (X6).” -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

Three engines are available in the 2012 Jaguar XF. Base and Portfolio models are equipped with a 385-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, while the two upper trim levels add a significant bump in power by using a supercharged version of the same 5.0-liter V8. The XF Supercharged puts 470 horsepower to the rear wheels, while the more aggressively-tuned XFR puts out 510 horsepower. The EPA has yet to provide fuel economy estimates for the 2012 Jaguar XF, but 2011 models didn’t see much of a penalty for additional super-charged power. The EPA reports that normally-aspirated V8 models get 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, while the XF Supercharged gets 15/21 mpg city/highway fuel economy. While these figures are low compared to some luxury large cars, they are about average among V8-powered rivals. The similar 2011 BMW 550i gets 17/25 mpg city/highway with its automatic transmission, while the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 gets 15/23 mpg city/highway.

Reviewers say the XF is quick with the normally-aspirated V8, while supercharged variants take performance to an entirely different level. Regardless of which engine you choose, the XF comes equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, which features winter and dynamic driving modes, as well as steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

  • "The transmission provides smooth, fast shifts with any engine." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Acceleration from the base 5.0-liter V8 is swift and seamless, while the Supercharged's lusciously smooth upgraded V8 takes you into another dimension of performance, serving up a seemingly endless wave of eye-popping power. The 510-hp XFR adds even more thrust along with the most capable and entertaining handling in the lineup." -- Edmunds
  • "The 385-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 is as solid a base engine as you're going to find in the segment where the XF plays." -- Motor Trend 
  • "More than a few colleagues have told us that the new direct-injected 5.0-liter V8 is simply one of the very best engines on sale today, period. We're fully inclined to agree, as the motor is marvelous. As you might imagine, the supercharger takes all those good things to an even higher level. Torque is everywhere and seemingly never ending, the soundtrack is sufficiently brutal without being crude, and it even revs quickly." -- Autoblog  

Handling and Braking 

Along with powerful engine choices, consumers with an eye for performance will likely be pleased with the Jaguar XF’s handling. Reviewers generally note its agility, with handling in line with a much smaller sport sedan. Still, the lack of an all-wheel drive option means that the XF doesn’t quite stack up to the competition from Audi, BMW and Infiniti if you need a sure-footed option in inclement weather.

  • "XF corners with good grip and little body lean. Steering is well weighted and precise. Brakes are strong, but were touchy on one test car. The XFR adds even more grip and stability." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Around corners, the XF has considerable grip and surprisingly high limits. The steering is a little light and numb, but the XF is still more fun to drive than many competitors." -- Edmunds
  • " Being a large, lumbering sedan, you'd expect the XF to be reluctant to boogie around corners, and while it's no Mazda Miata, the XF Supercharged is easily one of the most surefooted four-doors we've driven." -- Autoblog 
  • "An extremely stiff pedal box contributes to a particularly solid pedal feel, and the brake assistance is tuned to give a very progressive feel, while softening the initial response." -- Left Lane News 

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