What is it?
The XF is Jaguar’s BMW 5-Series: a charismatic and modern British alternative to the German brands that dominate this sector. Following a facelift in 2011, it really now is spot on – and Jaguar hasn’t stopped there. It also introduced a much-needed four-cylinder engine last year: for the latest model year, that diesel engine is now even more fuel efficient, while the aged V8 is replaced by a supercharged 3.0-litre V6. And you’ll want this because? Why, it’s the engine that’s also found in the F-Type…
That supercharged V6 is an impressive engine with a broad range of driver-pleasing traits. It is fast, responsive and well suited to the sporty XF. It’s much better than the old 5.0-litre V8.
For now though, diesels are where it’s at. The pick of the bunch is the 3.0-litre Diesel S – oodles of power and torque (275bhp and 442lb ft), although it’s also expensive. Most will go for the 2.2 diesel, which is very refined most of the time: it’s a very convincing four=cylinder Jaguar. Even the 163bhp version performs well, although the extra punch of the more powerful alternative – 10bhp more for 2014 taking it up to 200bhp – is welcome in a car this dynamic.
Jaguar has rolled out the eight-speed auto with its clever stop-start system on all diesels too, giving welcome economy and drivability gains. And talking about driver satisfaction, the XF really is an impressive car to pilot. The rear-drive chassis is well balanced, steering feel is pure and the suspension’s ability to offer interaction on broken British B-roads without edging into aggression is extremely satisfying. The ride is a bit taut as a result, but it’s still tolerable and fluid.
On the inside
The XF has perhaps the best sense of occasion of any car in the exec class. The way the vents rotate open when you start up, the way the gear selector rises up from the dash, even the fact that the glovebox opens when you waft your finger across a sensor – it all feels special. And well made, too. Gone are the days of glue holding everything together, because the XF interior feels as well screwed together as any rival, barring Audi. One word of warning, though – rear headroom is a bit tight.
Most XF have a diesel engine. Of these, the 2.2-litre will appeal to fleet buyers the most, even more so for 2014 as economy of the 2.2D 163 improves to 57.6mpg while CO2 falls to 129g/km. V6 diesels are better too, with economy improving to 47mpg. The 3.0-litre S/C can do 30mpg and both build quality and used values show the leaps Jaguar has made.