This Jaguar proves that a traditional, more relaxed approach to a big saloon is still of worth. 'Traditional' has unfortunate connotations in 2017, but it sums up all that is good (and some that is bad) about the XF. From the way it looks to the way it drives and the way people respond to it, there's something endearingly classic with this Jaguar. Perhaps that's not entirely on message for Jag right now though, as mentioned, just being a very good, relatively simple, fast, luxurious saloon is nothing to be ashamed of.
It makes 380hp from a supercharged V6; not a huge amount, nothing outrageous, simply an engine that has all the performance (plus a little bit more) that you'll ever need. It makes a good noise, it's responsive and it works (mostly) very well with the eight-speed auto.
Make use of that 380hp and the XF is more than willing to accommodate, grip good and composure very nice. As an 'S' rather than a full-blown performance model it's not a car for right on the limit but, again, it feels perfectly judged for its role. Tinker with those modes away from normal and you'll find subtle adjustments to throttle response and steering weight, though they really do feel more superfluous here than they do anywhere else.
The problem? As an executive car, not simply as a driver's car, the XF has pitfalls. When competing against cars as complete as the new BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class you must bring your A game, and there are areas where the XF falls down. The displays don't have the clarity they do in the German cars, the technology we now expect in large saloons - lane departure, emergency braking, that sort of thing - works more erratically and the interior simply isn't as good as those cars. Their technology is not only better from a usability perspective, it's incorporated into more stylish surroundings. And when you're not admiring what a dream your Jaguar is to drive, these issues start to matter.
Thing is Jaguar does seem to be making swifter progress these days, so there is hope that the next facelift will bring another jump forward. And a better touchscreen. However there are still fiddly buttons, a couple of iffy plastics and ambience not entirely befitting of a car that, in this spec, is £65,000. It's good, though it should probably be better.
JAGUAR XF S
Engine: 2,995cc, V6 supercharged
Transmission: 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 380@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 332@4,500rpm
Top speed: 155mph
MPG: 34 (NEDC combined)
Price: £51,100 (As tested £65,125 comprised of £705 for Caesium Blue paint, £395 for Privacy glass, £1,275 for LED headlights with DTR lights, £990 for sliding panoramic roof, £1,255 for 20-inch 5 split-spoke with diamond turned finish wheels, £2,140 for Navigation Pro pack with Meridian sound system, £505 for soft door close, £320 for illuminated metal tread plates with Jaguar script, £540 for secure tracker, £890 for Digital TV, £615 for 10.2-inch Dual View touchscreen, £525 for Blind spot monitor and reverse traffic monitor, £1690 for advanced parking assist pack with surround camera, £540 for cold climate pack, £1,270 for Head-up display pack and £665 for power gestured boot lid)