Sliding into the cockpit of the new Jaguar 2009 XF sports sedan just feels like trouble. The trouble, that is, of being in a sleek high-performance cat that is very likely to get you in hot water with the police, as you cannot help but hit it as you find an open stretch of road.
And that feeling comes without even putting the car into drive, as you slip into the twin-stitched leather seat and take in the burnished aluminum and wood console, then watch the cast alloy “Jaguar Drive Selector” rise out of the center console once you press the car’s Start button. Turn it to put the car in drive, and you’ll feel more like a Superspy than Soccer Mom, driving more sports car than sedan, despite the XF’s four-door roominess inside (it seats five) and large capacity trunk.
And it drives like a sports car, too, especially the Supercharged model ($62,975), with its 420-horsepower V8 engine (the XF comes in Luxury and Premium Luxury models as well, those have 300-hp V8s; see them all at www.jaguar.com ), sleek aerodynamics, and stiff suspension. It takes mountain curves at speed with ease, with no softness or squirreliness, and hits straightaways with smooth, quiet acceleration. Add in all the high-end amenities, like an easy-to-maneuver touch screen navigation system, Bluetooth for hands-free phoning, an exemplary sound system by Bowers and Wilkins, and front and side airbags, and the Jaguar XF just begs you to hit the open road. See why this car could spell trouble?
The good news is that the folks at Jaguar (which Ford Motor Company recently sold to Indian car giant Tata Motors) set the top speed of the Supercharged version at 155mph, and the other two at 121mph, making it a bit harder to get into trouble in on of these than say, in an Aston Martin DBS.
For a more sedan-like sedan experience, the 2008 Lexus ES350 Pebble Beach Limited Edition (www.lexus.com) may be just the ticket to not racking up speeding tickets. With a more reasonable 272-horsepower V-6 engine, this Lexus has more than enough power to get you there (and gets 27 highway mpg, too) in style. The leather seats are amazingly comfortable, and the wood and leather steering wheel and instrument console have a great look and feel; in fact, the $42,708 completely outfitted Pebble Beach edition compares favorably with much more expensive vehicles. Plus, in addition to that special model’s 17-inch wheels and elegant color choices, the trunk comes packed with your choice of Callaway golf clubs, leather luggage, Viking cookware, or Napa Valley wines. Gotta love that!
It’s easy to fall in love with a Mercedes-Benz sedan, especially since the company has so many choices in the category (www.mercedes-benz.com) .
But the CLS550 Coupe ($69,825) is a particularly wonderful version of a four-door people-and-luggage carrier. Like the Jaguar XF, this car feels and performs with a much sportier profile than some of its cousins (the S600 Sedan, for example), with its streamlined arched roof, 382-horsepower V-8, and Airmatic Semi-Active Suspension system, which lowers the car as it reaches cruising speed, making it a snap to control in any situation. The CLS550 is fast and fun, maintaining stability on even the tightest turns, and showing a peppy 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds – quick enough to merge into the swiftest traffic pattern you’ll encounter around town.
But if your idea of sedan love (or downright lust) comes in a bigger, brawnier package, then only the 2009 Bentley Flying Spur Speed will make you feel complete (www.bentleymotors.com). This massive, muscular touring car is reminiscent of autos from another era, with so much power and room that you might just feel like you are driving your living room down the road. Those nestled in the back seats may not be able to reach you in the front, it is so big; but with the car’s perfectly designed acoustics, they will be able to chat with those in the front without even raising their voices. This Bentley is also so soundproof inside that noises from the outside world barely intrude; only police sirens can break through.
And the Flying Spur Speed is another one of those cars that can spell trouble if you love to drive and drive fast, for despite its massive front grill, wide body, huge wheels, and almost 5,400 pound weight, this 600-horsepower, twin turbocharged 12-cylinder sedan truly does fly. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and will hit its top speed of 200 mph in seconds after that – if you can find the room to really let it out, that is. Perhaps a trip to a racetrack is in order, if the Bentley Flying Spur Speed ($198,500) is in your future. Otherwise, the car you love to drive may just send you right to the slammer!
Photos courtesy Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Bentley.