When North American Aviation sent the prototype P-51 fighter to England, the first thing the Brits did was shove a more powerful supercharged Merlin engine beneath its nose. Thus was born the most famous military aircraft of all time.
The English are still using the "bigger is better" formula to great effect. Enter the supercharged Jaguar XF.
Jag's 4.2-liter V8 sounds great. It sounds even better with the harmonics of a blower. The supercharged version produces 420 hp and 408 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm and pretty much transforms the XF into an entirely new animal. Its newfound muscle is delivered in a mannerly fashion-not all at once in great, tire-smoking gobs. Press the pedal to the floor and the XF accelerates rapidly on the brink of total wheelspin. At speed however, the car becomes a proper hooligan. From 50 mph, the Jag will breach triple digits with alarming brevity. It's a shame there's no autobahn in the U.S.-the supercharged XF appears to be bred for such stuff.
In addition to sharp-looking 20-inch alloys, the XF SC sits on tighter underpinnings managed by Jaguar's CATS adaptive suspension. The system is activated via a center-mounted button and recalibrates the car's demeanor for more inspired performance. I'm still not convinced electronic suspensions are all that. Some argue they are just a band-aid fix for bigger suspension issues. The CATS system does make the supercharged XF feel more athletic but sometimes feels synthetic. I wonder what a proper H&R or Vogtland coilover setup would do.
Perhaps our only complaint with the normally aspirated XF is its buttoned-down behavior. The car is very capable but feels somewhat tame. Its supercharged sibling addresses those issues and then some.
If we could, we would gladly sacrifice a year's worth of adult beverages for the supercharged XF.
Yes, it's that good.-Les Bidrawn
2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged
Longitudinal front engine,rear-wheel drive
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, supercharged, intercooled
Peak Power: 420 hp @ 6250 rpm
Peak Torque: 408 @ 3500 rpmv0-60 mph: 4.9 sec
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Economy: 15 city/23 highway
Price As Tested: $62,200
From The Hip
Superb high-speed cruising, fantastic power delivery, rocking Bowers & Wilkins audio system
Touch-screen for the nav/radio, center console design (hard to find buttons)