The 2.0-litre diesel engines aren’t particularly efficient, producing more company car tax-swelling CO2 emissions than the best rivals. For example, even the least powerful 2.0 163 is more polluting than the 520d Touring, while the version that rivals the 520d on power – the XF 2.0d 180 – is worse still. That said, if you have your heart set on an XF, we’d suggest the 2.0d 180 makes the most sense, because its added performance over the 163 is worth the extra outlay.
The V6 diesel model is also less efficient than equivalents rivals, such as the BMW 530d Touring, but its emissions aren’t too far off the Mercedes E400d Estate’s. Meanwhile, if you’re a private buyer and choose either of the 2.0-litre petrols, you’ll struggle to get more than 30mpg as an average.
In terms of equipment, entry-level Prestige comes with plenty of kit and makes the most financial sense. It includes dual-zone climate control, 17in alloy wheels, leather seats (heated in the front) and a suede headlining, as well as the rear parking sensors, xenon headlights and infotainment features we’ve mentioned previously. Opt for R-Sport and, bar front parking sensors, you're getting mainly more aggressive styling, including black exterior trim detailing, bigger 18in alloy wheels (the 2.0d 163 retains 17in wheels) and a bespoke bodykit.
If you'd rather have a few more toys than a sporty appearance, have a look at the more luxurious Portfolio. It costs about the same as the R-Sport but swaps the bodykit for more useful upgrades, such as keyless entry, higher-grade leather seat trim, a heated windscreen and power-folding door mirrors. Meanwhile the range-topping S and special edition 300 Sport come only with the top-end engines, and aren’t really worth the price hike.
Every XF Sportbrake has a host of safety equipment as standard, including automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning system and six airbags. There’s also an optional Active Safety Pack, which adds sophisticated kit including blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance, driver tiredness monitoring and a feature that warns you if you’re about to reverse into the path of oncoming traffic. The XF Sportbrake received a maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, scoring solidly in all four test categories.
An alarm and engine immobiliser are on hand to deter thieves. Indeed, security firm Thatcham Research has run its security test and awarded the XF full marks for its resistance to being driven away and four stars (out of five) for its ability to resist a break-in.