Light and lively

Jaguar’s XF S sedan sheds weight, gains mileage and performance

The latest Jaguar XF S sedan lightens up with a body structure consisting of aluminum components glued and/or riveted together. While somewhat pricey, the benefit is reduced curb weight, better road manners and usable rear seating.

I tested a high-performance “S” version with supercharged V-6 power, and make no mistake — this cat lives up to its name.

The XF is a sleek cat with a very low-to-the-ground stance. A mesh grille with a big-cat logo greets you, and the profile has a Tesla-meets-Maserati look rolling on standard 20-inch wheels. At the rear, the fascia has sharp, wraparound blade-like taillights and a lower gray inset that houses the exhaust pipes.

The test car, an XF S, came with the higher-output V-6 engine. My 3.0 liter supercharged V-6 had 332 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic channels power to the rear wheels. Surprisingly, this combo delivers very respectable mileage numbers.

Inside the XF S, you’ll be surrounded by a less glitzy cockpit than in the previous generation. I liked the digital TFT display panel, head-up display, 10.2-inch center touch screen and reduced amount of switches. The XF’s heated leather front seats are more comfortable than they look. In the rear, there is finally room for two adults to comfortably sit (on heated seats) and enough cargo space to hold luggage for four adults.

On road, the XF S swallows large expanses of highway, as it’s a nice road car but can be aggressive, too. How about a 0-60 time of just over 5.0 seconds! Unpleasant sound is nicely muted from the interior.

The XF S has a twin-wishbone setup for the front wheels and features an integral-link suspension setup in the rear. A selection of driver-selectable ride-quality modes can customize it to the situation (or your comfort). Select the mode (Sport mode was my favorite), and the electric power-steering assist, throttle and shift timing are altered. As for ride quality, compliance and sportiness, the XF S settles in right behind the Cadillac CTS V-Sport and about even with the Audi S6.

Available safety items include surround-view cameras, laser-projected head-up display, adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitors, parking assist and an autonomous braking system with stereo cameras to detect obstacles and stop the XF S without driver input (in emergencies).

Teen safe driving contest

For the third year, the Chicago Auto Show is partnering with the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF) for “Drive Safe Chicago,” a contest for teens that focuses on distracted driving. Teen entrants can submit ideas for a 30-second public service announcement about distracted driving. One winner will receive $2,000 and have his or her PSA produced.

For information on the contest, visit http://www.nrsf.org/teenlane/

content/drive-safe-chicago. Entry deadline is Dec. 14, 2016.

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