“Test Drive-Thru” is a series where we review new cars and new fast food items
The base 2017 Jaguar XF (the 20d RWD) is a fine car. At $48k, it offers better than average interior appointments and decent performance. It’s nice, but not overly exciting when you consider other cars in its class from the likes of BMW and Audi. The 2017 Jaguar XF S AWD, on the other hand, much like Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa (more on this later), is a complete surprise.
The XF S gets a serious performance upgrade over the standard XF, to the tune of 380 hp courtesy of the same supercharged V6 found in the F-Type. This means a 0–60 time in the low 5s, which is considerably more fun than the base offering. The handling is tight and responsive—impressively so—and the car glides along with few hiccups. In terms of performance, it’s in line with its competitors from Audi, Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes, which is enough to at least get you to consider this Jag, as those other makers have released some real winners over the last few years. That said, this Jag doesn’t feel that fast, and shoppers familiar with vehicles at this price point and in this category may be expecting a bit more. While that might feel lacking, the handling is superior to almost every car we’ve tested in its class.
In the features department, Jaguar packed the XF S with a few winners, including 360° cameras for parking and valet park assist for the times when even looking at a camera is too much, though your first usage will be a little nerve-racking. Adaptive cruise is present, as is a monitor for tired driving, both of which are helpful, and overall we’d say the features are a boon for drivers once they become acclimated to them.
When it comes to looks, the 2017 is not all that different on the outside from the previous incarnation of the car that came out a couple of years ago, though details like the red brake calipers, grill emblem, and styled lights are all really nice. This isn’t a bad thing, however, as Jaguar has always had a keen eye for sporty sophistication, and the XF S is a sporty sedan that blends the two worlds quite nicely.
The interior offers a few positives and negatives. On the positive side, the large Jaguar InControl Touch, which is the sleek touchscreen that highlights the dash, offers intuitive menus and easy navigation. Pulling up different pieces of info is simple and always displayed attractively. The all digital gauges are also sharp, though in bright light can be a tad challenging to read. We’ll also go on record as being fans of the JaguarDrive selector, a shifter knob that rises out of the center console when you start the car. It allows that console to feel far more spacious than one with the standard stick protruding from the center. Auto Stop/Start, a feature we despise more than an underfilled bag of Cinnamon Twists, can be shut off with a push of a button next to the shifter knob, and that’s one of the few elements that dot the otherwise clean console.
On the flip side, it felt like Jaguar went a little overboard with the materials inside the 2017 XF S, as chocolate brown leathers mixed with cold blacks and gunmetal grays a bit haphazardly. One other negative is the view through the windshield, which was limited compared with other vehicles we’ve driven recently. Nothing here that should keep you from considering the XF S—far from it—but things to consider if you also want to take a Jag to Taco Bell for their latest concoction.
If we thought the Jaguar XF S packed a surprise, what with such a robust upgrade in performance over the very similar looking XF, well, the Naked Chicken Chalupa from Taco Bell was the damn Sixth Sense ending of tacos. Why? Well, two reasons, really. For starters, we were expecting a taco with a piece of breaded chicken in place of its standard shell. Well, all that’s inside the Naked Chicken Chalupa is toppings. There’s no beef, carnitas, or chicken on chicken gloriousity. It’s your standard lettuce and tomato. That’s not crazy. That’s a chicken dinner, folded. This is Taco Bell. We expect wild. Give us the chicken and the beef. It’s not like we won’t be throwing them both up at 3 am with all the booze in our system anyway.
That wasn’t the most shocking part, however. The most shocking part was how damn spicy the Naked Chicken Chalupa was. Nowhere did it say “Spicy” Naked Chicken Chalupa. If you aren’t going to put “spicy” in the advertising or in the name, you’re only allowed a modicum of spiciness. This was more than a modicum. Our noses turned to snot faucets.
That said, yeah, of course it was delicious.
Surprises come in many forms. Sometimes they’re good: the tooth fairy, an onion ring in your fries at Burger King, Dredd. Sometimes they’re not so good: pop quizzes, Waze routing you onto some weird-ass back road, Suicide Squad. The 2017 Jaguar XF S is definitely part of the former, as Jaguar really ramped it up for the S package. Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa, while still delicious, is surprising for the wrong reasons. Did we still enjoy it? Of course. It’s Taco Bell. It’s like 4 different ingredients in a variety of shapes. That said, maybe a little heads up on the fire.
Editor’s Note: It’s with heavy hearts that we report that the Taco Bell bigwigs took the ax to the Naked Chicken Chalupa only a month after releasing its absurdity on the world. The gods giveth and the gods taketh away, right? Here’s what’s coming next.