Big diesel saloons make a whole heap of sense: big torque for cruising, decent mpg for range and enough bodywork to engineer out the usual thrumbly NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) issues that a compression engine usually burps up. And right now it's impossible to ignore BMW's 535d when it comes to being the sportiest, most dynamic diesel saloon out there - it's the proverbial elephant in the diesel engine room.
Well, this time Jag isn't making any excuses - it's gone for the 535d's throat. The trouble is that the 2.7-litre V6 diesel was a hard act to follow. It wasn't as outright fast as the offerings from BMW, but made up for that with a usability and perfect match to the six-speed Getrag auto that meant you didn't care - it worked so well in synergy with itself. More of a thrill to drive a 530d fast for sure, more of a sense of contentment to own an XF.
But now the XF 3.0D S (there'll be a ‘stock' 3.0D as well) has taken the big BMW engine on and is making serious noises. More torque, only slightly less power (the Jag makes 275bhp, the 535d 286bhp), and a 0-60mph time half-a-second quicker than the BMW. And it translates better than it sounds. A new ‘parallel sequential' turbocharging system means that the XF D delivers huge amounts of torque early and then stays online for a very long time - it really is a massively strong-feeling engine.
What that means is that you can overtake pretty much anything and make it stick - the car is indecently rapid when you get used to the slightly more loping stride. No, it isn't as dynamically focussed as the BMW, but it rides better and takes distance in a more thoughtful manner. Basically it'd be a better car to have for a long time, I reckon.
Best of all? This is the only car I think I might mis-fuel. It really is that quiet. You can hear the tappetty chatter of the new direct injection system (you can on pretty much all the DI cars that I've ever driven), but it isn't intrusive, and the fact that the new motor revs well, if short, means that you might honestly get it wrong at the pumps. Luckily there's a new widget in the fuel filler that stops you doing what the British police seem to do on a regular basis.
So is it good? Yes. Very. If you consider what the engineers set out to do, then they have achieved the target and then some. The XF 3.0D S surpasses expectation by some margin. Try one before you buy that BMW.