For the better part of the last decade, Jaguar has been slowly rebuilding its image, eliminating the cushy luxury car image it has had since the mid-1980s and replacing it with a more performance-based luxury image, much like it had in the 1960s. The 2012 Jaguar XF is a key example of how Jag has been rebuilding that image.
Even at the base level, it is obvious what Jaguar’s intentions were with the XF, as it not only boasts luxurious features, but also a 385-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine that sends the sedan to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds.
As we said, that is just at the base level. At the top end, you have the XFR, which is a completely different animal that really ties together luxury and performance, and wraps it all with a nice little bow.
The true test is how does this luxury performance sedan actually stack up to its competition, like the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG?
Click past the jump to read our full review and see exactly how the 2012 XFR stacks up.
On the outside, Jag-ewe-are was careful not to reinvent the wheel and completely scrap the 2011 XFR. Rather Jag focused on tweaking the exterior, making it a sleeker and more stylish design. New on the 2012 model year are revised headlights that no longer feature the Monte Carlo-like raised section in the center. The new lights are thinner and swoop rearward, which makes the XFR look fast just sitting in a parking space.
The taillights were also tweaked just a bit, as Jaguar eliminated the awkward looking upper section of the taillight that was integrated with the trunk lid. Now the entire taillight assembly flows into the trunk lid, giving it a sleeker and less manufactured look. The center bar connecting the two taillights is also brand new, and actually looks like it is a part of the taillights instead of an awkwardly placed chrome strip.
On the front end, you get a slightly revised grille system. First off, you get the traditional mesh grille expected from a Jag, but instead of being silver, like on the 2011 model, the 2012 model boasts sleeker black grilles. The lower grille on the 2012 Jaguar XFR is slightly smaller than the 2011 model year and the side grilles on the bumper have larger openings with a sharper design.
The hood remains the same, boasting the center hump. The side profile of the 2012 model year also remains identical to the 2011 XFR. The back end also remains 100 percent the same, sans the redesigned taillights and center strip.
The 2012 XFR has six color options available free of charge, including: Polaris White, Rhodium Silver Metallic, Lunar Grey Metallic, Stratus Grey Metallic, Ultimate Black Metallic, Kyanite Blue Metallic. There are also two color options that cost an additional $1,500 and they are British Racing Green and Italian Racing Red Metallic.
The standard wheels on the 2012 XFR are 20-inch Nevis alloys. You can opt for a set of pewter-colored Draco alloys, but you have to also opt in on the Jaguar Black Pack, which replaces all of your chrome with black trim and adds an additional $1,600 to your ticket.
Overall, the XFR’s exterior is classy, yet aggressive, a combination rarely achieved in the automotive world.
On the inside, the classy side comes out. First and foremost, you are getting a very clean interior that boasts just enough buttons and knobs to let you know you aren’t driving a Chevy, but not so many that you are completely overwhelmed with gizmos to play with.
The 2012 XFR comes with the expected AM/FM radio with CD player and MP3 decoder, as well as steering wheel-mounted controls. The CD player is nicely integrated with the dashboard, giving it a clean look. Just above the CD player is a touchscreen infotainment center that handles all of your audio controls, navigation and other vehicle functions. Giving you concert-like sound are 17 premium speakers throughout the cabin, which is a $2,300 option on every other trim level of the 2012 XF.
The seats are, of course, wrapped in soft-grain leather, with numerous color schemes available and the obligatory “R” embedded in the backrests. On the dashboard is a veneer appliqué that really sets off the dashboard and eliminates any cheap feeling. The entire interior is accented with aluminum pieces, and even the headliner is ultra-luxurious, as it is made from suede-cloth.
As expected, you will get remote keyless entry, tilt steering wheel, auto-dimming mirror, automatic temperature control, power moonroof, memory seat, and power windows. One less common standard feature on the inside of the XFR is a heated steering wheel, which is a little strange, but a cool addition nonetheless.
In all, the interior leaves very little to be desired, as Jaguar did a pretty good job hitting all of the bases with this one. Some experts complain that the XFR’s interior looks and feels cheap, but we do not see any cheapness to it at all.
Engine and Drivetrain
Under the hood of the 2012 Jaguar XFR is little more than a carryover from the 2011 model year, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. The Eaton supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 under the humped hood of this performance pumps out a stellar 510 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 461 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. Granted, the 461 pounds of twisting is a little sub-par, but it is still enough to get this 4,306-pound sedan to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds – 0.7 seconds faster than the base XF.
The engine exhales through a dual exhaust system with dual-exit mufflers – totaling four exits. This isn’t your typical detuned luxury exhaust either, as this thing has a throaty tone to it that any muscle car nut would drool over. You can have a listen to the exhaust note in the above video.
Flinging these 510 ponies to the rear wheels – yeah, there’s no AWD option – is a 6-speed automatic transmission with a paddle-shift option. We wish there was a 6-speed manual option, but for this class of car, who really opts for a manual transmission? Jaguar is pretty much playing to the masses with its shiftable automatic.
The combination of the supercharged V-8 and 6-speed auto get this awesome machine 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, which is pretty acceptable for the class that it is in.
The suspension on the 2012 XFR is a carryover from 2011. Just like the engine, the fact that this suspension system carries over is not a bad thing. Jaguar managed to accomplish combining normal driving comfort with precision handling via its 4-wheel independent suspension, and front and rear stabilizer bars.
The system used on the XFR is called Adaptive Dynamic suspension, which analyzes the chassis movement, driver input, and wheel movements 500 times every second and fine-tunes the suspension to retain a flat stance, and improve handling. Add in the Dynamic Stability Control system, which optimizes traction in a straight line or on curves, and you have a healthy handling machine.
Jaguar’s Servotronic steering system has received pretty mixed reviews, with most experts claiming that its steering is almost numb. Jaguar touts this steering system as giving increased feedback at higher speeds, but the consensus is that Jag failed with this system.
Overall, the handling of the 2012 XFR is unexpectedly awesome, but its low feedback through the steering wheel can make navigating twisties at higher speeds a little scary.
Just like a fine meal, if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it. The 2012 Jaguar XFR retails at $82,000.
The main competitor up against the 2012 XFR is the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG. At 518 horsepower from its 5.5-liter twin-boosted V-8, the CLS63 AMG is pretty much even with the XFR in ponies, but the CLS63 AMG’s turbochargers allow for a lot more torque – 55 foot-pounds more, to be precise. You can also opt for the Performance Pack, which bumps its power up to 550 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. With the power pack, the CLS63 AMG hits 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, without it the CLS63 AMG hits 60 in just 4.5 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than the Jag.
The CLS63 AMG is certainly a better looker than the XFR, as it is simply a better mixture of sport and luxury than the Jaguar. The swooping roof line is something that you expect to see only in $250,000 Bentley limos, and it makes this Benz look the luxury part. The Mercedes also gives you much better feel through the steering wheel, all while handling just as well as the XFR.
Where the CLS63 AMG fails is pricing. It is a full $12,900 more than the Jaguar XFR and you get essentially the exact same options as the Jag.
Jaguar is still rebuilding its image and it will be a slow process. However, for how short of a time that it has been rebuilding, it has certainly reeled in Benz pretty quickly. The XFR hasn’t quite caught up just yet, but it is really close and a great alternative for someone that does not want to pay the premium for the Mercedes-Benz name.
If you have the extra $12K laying around to get the CLS63 AMG, we say to go for it, but if you are looking to save a buck and get a car that performs the same, we say to go for the Jaguar. The only glaring issue that we see with the XFR is that it has a history of being a very fragile car that requires a lot of maintenance and repairs to keep it going, which has been an issue with all Jags for the last 20 years.
High-quality Eaton supercharger
Needs something more to separate it from the base XF
Electronic parking brakes are annoying
Track record of reliability issues