When it first arrived on the scene in 2007 the Jaguar XF made quite a statement about where Jaguar was heading. Looking like nothing that had come before it, the XF was a breath of fresh air and a welcome addition to the executive car market. However, the Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-Series were never going to make life easy for the newcomer, and now an all-new XF is here to reassert itself on the battlefield.
Jaguar has listened to criticism of the previous version and made improvements where potential buyers thought they were necessary. As a result, running costs have decreased, there's more technology in a better-built, more spacious interior, plus a more engaging driving experience than before. The sleek, assertive lines and athletic stance have been carried over from before but have been sharpened up with influences from the smaller Jaguar XE.
Traditionally the interiors of cars in this class were sober, dour affairs and the interior of the old XF injected a much-needed dose of excitement. Heightening the sense of drama, and thankfully carried over to the new car, are the automatic gear selector and air vents that rise and turn theatrically into action when the car is started. Also welcome is an increase in interior space thanks to the car's longer wheelbase (distance between the front and rear wheels), despite the new car being shorter overall than the outgoing model.
A large proportion of Jaguar XF sales is to company-car fleets where running costs are of paramount importance, with CO2 emissions being a particular concern. Jaguar have fought to please this market by reducing the average weight of an XF by 80kg while introducing a range of new ‘Ingenium’ diesel engines. All this means that the least expensive, 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel XF has CO2 emissions of just 104g/km.
Of its main rivals, only the brand-new 2.0-litre diesel of the latest Mercedes E-Class can beat this and even then, it’ll cost the same to run with a Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax rating of just 20%. Meanwhile, private buyers will appreciate the 70mpg economy and £20 tax bill.
Other diesel choices for those who want a little more power are a 178bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel and a 3.0-litre diesel V6 with 296bhp.
The range-topping XF S shares its 375bhp supercharged V6 3.0-litre petrol engine with the Jaguar F-Type sports car. Capable of racing from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds, the performance of this car is bound to whet the appetite of anybody waiting for the XF-R model expected to arrive soon, which is expected to have a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine.
Every XF has a good level of standard equipment; even the entry-level Prestige model has leather upholstery with heated front seats, while interior mood lighting enhances the appearance of the interior. Also standard is Jaguar's InControl infotainment system with its eight-inch touchscreen, including satnav, DAB radio, Bluetooth, wi-fi connectivity and voice-control. Life on the road is made more comfortable by dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors and automatic headlights and wipers.
Opting for the dynamically-styled R-Sport makes the XF look more muscular thanks to a deeper spoiler, sill extensions and a spoiler on the bootlid, as well as larger alloy wheels for all models apart from the 161bhp diesel. R-Sport also adds front parking sensors. The most luxurious XF of all is the Portfolio, which adds a softer variety of leather upholstery and extra lumbar support adjustment for the seats. You also get plush carpets and distinctive chrome trim inside and out.
The XF was awarded a five-star rating after Euro NCAP crash testing performed in 2015, improving on the result of the previous model. Aside from all the obligatory airbags and stability control equipment, the XF also boasts autonomous emergency braking which can bring the car to a halt automatically if it detects an impending collision, as well as emergency braking assistance which helps the driver to brake hard if it senses a heavy brake pedal application.
The latest XF is still too new to have featured in our annual Driver Power customer satisfaction survey but we do know that Jaguar has earned a great reputation among owners, having not fallen below sixth place over recent years.
Overall, the XF stacks up as a car that should be as good to own as it is to look at.