This latest Jaguar XF has been improved in numerous areas. It boasts lower running costs, more interior space, more technology, better interior quality and a better driving experience than before. When you’re up against superb rivals like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6, however, you’ve got to be good.
On the outside, the XF adds a dash of style and swagger to what has traditionally been a rather demure and conservative class. The design has clearly been influenced by the smaller Jaguar XE, itself a handsome car, with distinctive LED daytime running light graphics and a svelte, athletic stance.
Inside, anyone familiar with the previous XF will be thrilled to learn that the theatrical rotating air vents and rising gear selector (on automatic versions only) remain when you start the car up. There's also more space inside, as despite this XF being shorter overall than its predecessor, its wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) has actually grown, meaning there's more space inside for passengers – especially in the back.
We expect most of XF sales will be to company-car fleets, so running costs – and CO2 emissions in particular – are of great importance. In order to get these as low as possible, Jaguar has shaved around 80kg from the XF's weight and given it with the latest 2.0-litre ‘Ingenium’ diesel engines. As a result, the entry-level 161bhp XF with the six-speed manual gearbox have CO2 emissions of just 104g/km.
This means a Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax rating of just 20%, while private buyers will only have to pay £20 a year in road tax and the car should return around 70mpg on average. Of its main rivals, only the brand-new Mercedes E-Class with its own new 2.0-litre diesel can beat this and even then, it’ll cost the same to run.
There are other engines available for the XF, however, including a 178bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel and a 296bhp 3.0-litre diesel V6. At the top of the range, there's also a high-performance 375bhp supercharged 3.0-litre petrol V6 that's shared with the Jaguar F-Type sports car. It takes the XF from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds and on to a top speed that's been electronically limited to 155mph. This is a prelude to a likely even higher-performance XF-R model with the brand's supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine.
Standard equipment is pretty good, with all models getting the InControl infotainment system, operated by an eight-inch touchscreen, which includes wi-fi connectivity and Bluetooth. There's also cruise control, rear parking sensors, sat nav, DAB radio, voice control, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, automatic headlights and wipers, as well as heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and interior mood lightning.
The entry-level Prestige model comes with just about all the equipment you’ll need (see above) while R-Sport gives the car a sportier demeanour with a beefed-up body kit as well as front and rear parking sensors. Portfolio, however, turns on the luxury, with softer leather, extra lumbar support adjustment, premium carpet and some chrome exterior and interior trim.
The car's safety provisions won’t disappoint, either. Naturally, the XF has a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, while the impressive standard equipment list includes loads of airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring, lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition, autonomous emergency braking, emergency braking assistance (which can bring the car to a halt automatically if it detects an impending collision) and ISOFIX child-seat mounts on the outer two rear seats. Of course, it also comes with the legally required stability control, anti-lock brakes and traction control.
Unfortunately, the XF hasn’t really been out long enough for us to have any concrete reliability data. All we can say is that Jaguar is popular with owners, having come second in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, although it was only rated 13th for reliability.