Jaguar hit the nail on the head with the original XF – it was undoubtedly a Jag, but one that dumped the company’s dowdy image and looked, mercifully, nothing like the S-Type it replaced. No wonder it proved such a big hit with buyers that would usually choose a Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series or Audi A6.
Unsurprisingly, Jaguar hasn’t done a hatchet job on the looks of what is, believe it or not, an all-new model, but substantial changes are there even if you can’t see them. There’s an aluminium body that helps it weigh up to 190kg less than before, front suspension borrowed from the F-Type and the option to specify four-wheel drive.
Engines have also changed, so the XF gets Jaguar’s high-tech low-capacity 2.0-litre Ingenium diesels. Capable of returning up to 70mpg, they’re a must if Jaguar hopes to crack the all-important fleet market. Top-end models can be had with a powerful petrol V6, but the smart money goes on the 240hp diesel, which is almost as fast as the big petrol, but comes without running costs so high they could put your house at risk.
Not that really matters, because living in the XF would be no real hardship. Despite the new car being slightly smaller than the old model, interior space has increased significantly thanks to a longer wheelbase.
Meanwhile, the interior fixtures and fittings will make any abode – short of the Queen’s residence – seem a little low-rent. It might not be the rolling techfest that the Mercedes E-Class is or, for that matter, be quite as well built, but a new infotainment system promises crisp graphics and laser-fast calculation speeds, and you don’t need to be a member of Mensa to program it.
Equipment levels cover the basics expected of this class, so all models come with sat-nav, Bi-Xenon headlights, and a leather interior, while the car’s electric power steering (it used to be hydraulic) brings optional driver aids to the fore, including lane-keep assist and perpendicular auto parking.
If you want the best-driving big executive car then you don’t want a BMW 5 Series, you want this
With mid-sized executive saloons seemingly getting ever more complex, the Jaguar XF makes for a refreshing change. People who enjoy setting up their car to the nth degree will no doubt miss the adjustability offered by rivals, but those willing to put their trust in Jaguar will not be disappointed.
Straight out the box, the Jaguar XF is the best-driving car in its class and one of the best looking, while the new model’s added rear legroom means there’s now no practical reason not to choose it. The changes may not look like much in the metal but, in practice, they’re enough to catapult the XF to the top of the class.
As well as this saloon, Jaguar also has a more practical Sportbrake estate version of the XF, which we review separately. If you want more detailed information about the XF, look through the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. Or, if you just want to see what sort of savings to expect on a Jaguar XF, simply click through to our deals page.