Executive winner

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The winner
Jaguar XF 3.0D V6 Luxury
List price 34,636
Target price 32,214

Once upon a time, German saloons ruled the executive car class. Then along came the Jaguar XF and blew them into the weeds. For the past two years, the XF has beaten the previous champion, the BMW 5 Series, and even the new Mercedes E-Class has fallen short of Jaguars benchmark.

The XF has always been streets ahead when it comes to handling and refinement, but it now has a more powerful, yet more efficient, 3.0-litre diesel engine, prompting us, without hesitation, to make it the best executive model for the third straight year.

The new engine really is a piece of work: it is 4.4mpg more economical than its predecessor and emits 20g/km less CO2, dropping the XF four company car tax bands in the process.

Theres more. Spend some serious time in the XF and youll marvel at its overall ability. Its well appointed, without feeling ostentatious, and is supremely capable on any type of road. From urban alleys to high-speed motorways, the Jaguars polished ride means that youre never ruffled. Long journeys are also dispatched with ease, thanks to the XFs outstanding refinement.

Find an interesting stretch of road, however, and the XF is instantly up for some fun. Its surprisingly nimble for something that weighs close on two tonnes, while efficient brakes and bags of grip mean you can drive it hard with total confidence.

Theres only one cloud on the XFs horizon the brand-new BMW 5 Series is just around the corner. Later this year, well know if it is good enough to replace the Jag at the top of the executive table. Right now, though, the XF is as good as they come and thats brilliant.