2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD
2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

If you’re going to be late for a party, you might as well arrive in style.

The Jaguar XF sedan, penned by Wayne Burgess during the Ian Callum’s reign as Jaguar design director and now into its fifth year, is nothing if not stylish. But up until this year it has only been available with rear-wheel drive. Not such a big concern in other markets, but here in North America if you want to play in the premium Euro mid-size sedan sandbox, you gotta get the power to all four wheels.

And six-cylinder power is also a requirement in this segment – something Jaguar bypassed completely with its all-V8 XF menu.

Six-pot rivals BMW 535i xDrive ($64,900), Mercedes-Benz E 350 4Matic ($66,300), Audi A6 3.0T ($59,800) and Volvo S60 T6 AWD ($46,550) are all-wheel-drive only in Canada. Now Jaguar can say the same for 2013, its $61,500 340-hp supercharged 3.0L V6 XF replacing the outgoing rear-drive, naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 base XF.

If you want to build market share, this is the smart strategy.

For those who prefer their cats scalded, the rear-drive 510-hp supercharged V8 XFR and new-for-2013 550-hp XFR-S are available, though the latter in very limited quantities. In Canada, we won’t be getting the 2.0L turbo-four version that will be sold Stateside.

Last year the XF got a mid-cycle refresh that spruced up its snout, tail and bestowed some interior improvements. This cat may be getting on, but it’s still a fetching feline. In black, the tester’s sleek and restrained styling broadcasts undertones of taut, simmering sensuality.

With a starting price of $61,500, the well-equipped XF 3.0 AWD is priced right in the thick of the competition. For that we get xenon headlights with LED accent strips, auto wipers, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, rear park assist, 10-speaker Meridian audio, 7.0-inch touchscreen, USB and Bluetooth. The car also sports a new eight-speed ZF autobox and paddle shifters.

Upping the luxury ante here was the $4,300 Premium Pack I, adding 380-watt Meridian Audio, navigation, satellite radio, front and rear park assist and adaptive headlights. Heated and cooled seats with upgraded leather ran $4,000, and the Cold Weather Pack (heated steering wheel and windshield) added $600.

The $2,500 Convenience Pack bestows proximity key, auto-dimming headlights, voice command, electric rear sunshade, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and blind spot monitor.

2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD
2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The direct-injection 3.0L supercharged V6 is essentially Jag’s 5.0L V8 with a couple of cylinders lopped off. That’s down from the previous base car’s 385 hp, 380 lb-ft naturally aspirated V8, but so is the fuel consumption.

Transport Canada rates this V6 Jaguar at 13.1 L/100 km city and 7.7 highway.

2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD
2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD. Click image to enlarge

And this six-banger is no slouch, putting up better numbers than its direct competitors. It’s an impressive engine – eager, smooth, and with 332 lb-ft of torque it propels the XF with enthusiasm. In the upper reaches there is a just a hint of supercharger whine, which in my books rates as pretty cool. Equally impressive is the eight-speed ZF-sourced auto-box that shifts smoothly and responds with immediacy to paddle shifter inputs.

The folks at ZF must be busy these days. Versions of this ubiquitous tranny is popping up everywhere from the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup to the BMW 3 Series to the Maserati Quattroporte to the Rolls Royce Phantom.

Fittingly, there’s a bit of theatre when firing up the XF. The illuminated start/stop button pulses like a beating heart, and when pressed the HVAC vents in the dash rotate open and the big chrome rotary shift knob rises Phoenix-like from the centre console. While all a bit gimmicky, I can’t argue with the ergonomic soundness of that puck-shaped dial for gear selection.

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