Big cat in the Big Apple: Jaguar XF world debut

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

New York — The big cat is in the Big Apple.

Just a week after its high-wire introduction over London's Thames River, the 2016 Jaguar XF luxury sports sedan landed on its feet in New York City for its world debut. Or almost landed. The Jaguar appeared to float over the pavement as it was introduced by "Mad Men" bombshell Christina Hendricks in front of Manhattan's iconic Flatiron building.

Already considered the gold standard for mid-size sedan beauty (even Tesla's Model S borrowed heavily from its elegant lines), the second-generation XF is more sculpted, more powerful, more roomy. Shedding up to 265 pounds (for the all-wheel-drive model) from the previous model, the mid-size four door is based on the same lightweight architecture as its smaller XE sibling that debuted at the Detroit auto show.

The XF and XE sedans were built under the watchful eye of Indian manufacturing conglomerate Tata, which bought the British brand from Ford in 2008. Together with the raucous, Jaguar F-Type sports car and promised F-PACE crossover, the sedans hope to get Jaguar back in the luxury game against BMW and Mercedes.

The sleek Jaguar's cosmetic changes are minimal with a more vertical front grille and longer tail for better aerodynamics. The real changes are deeper. The XF gains an all-aluminum skin — including side panels sculpted from a single sheet — and a chassis made of lightweight steel and aluminum. The XF debuts with supercharged V-6s that deliver 340 and 380 horsepower, both shared with the F-Type.

Its all-wheel drive system gains torque-vectoring grip first seen on the F-Type. Traction-control allows drivers to pull away in icy conditions without touching the pedals.

Inside, the XF maintains its signature luxury touches from suede headliner to a rotary gear-shifter that rises out of the center console. The XF comes standard with an 8-inch — and an optional, 10-inch infotainment screen.

The XF has park-assist, 360-degree front camera, blind-spot assist — even an intelligent speed limiter that will automatically adjust the car's velocity as speed limits change.

The Jaguar XF is due to go on sale in the U.S. this winter; pricing for the new car will be announced shortly before. The current 2015 model starts at $52,100.