The entry-level 2.0d 163 model needs to be worked hard to make swift progress, and even then it's a bit on the slow side. The more powerful 2.0d 180 diesel is gutsy enough, although equivalent engines in the BMW 520d and Mercedes E 200 d are even stronger.
If you can afford it, the V6 diesel offers seriously strong performance, even from low revs. The automatic gearbox (optional on the 2.0-litre diesels and standard on other XFs) is impressive enough, apart from its annoying habit of pausing when accelerating briskly from a standstill.
As for the V6 petrol, it’s the fastest XF, but very thirsty with it. Furthermore, the V6 diesel feels just as potent, that is unless you’re prepared to rev the petrol very hard.
Jaguar XF ride comfort
The ride is a little firm around town, but on every other road the Jaguar XF is comfortable on both standard suspension and the adaptive set-up fitted to high-end versions.
Expansion joints and rough roads road pass beneath you with minimal fuss, and the XF's body doesn't bounce up and down over dips and crests. On models with adaptive suspension, switching to Dynamic road makes the ride a bit firm, so is best avoided unless the road is super smooth.
As with most cars, adding bigger alloy wheels makes the ride noticeably firmer.
Jaguar XF handling
Jaguar is famous for building sporty saloons, and the XF is no exception. It masks its size well and handles with the agility of a much smaller car.
A large part of this is down to the steering, which is well weighted and precise, and quicker than most key rivals'. The tyres generate plenty of grip, giving you lots of confidence when driving the XF quickly along a twisting road. Meanwhile, a standard torque-vectoring system brakes the inside wheels during tight cornering to help the car turn even more enthusiastically.
Dynamic mode on versions of adpative suspension tightens the handling up even more, but is best left for super-smooth roads.
Jaguar XF refinement
The 2.0-litre diesel engines aren't too vocal unless you worth them hard, although the equivalent engines in the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 are even quieter. There’s also a telltale diesel rattle from the V6 at about 2000rpm, but it’s otherwise quiet. The supercharged petrol V6, on the other hand, sounds quite sporty when accelerating quickly and remains quiet when you’re not.
Wind noise isn’t a major issue, with only a slight whistling from the windscreen at speed. Overall, however, the XF isn’t quite as refined as its best rivals because road noise is ever-present, and the stop-start system tends to send a shudder through the car as it fires up the engine.
The entry-level diesel is rather weak. Company car drivers will be attracted by its low CO2 emissions and the promise of good fuel economy. However, we reckon it's worth upgrading to the 2.0d 180, which offers more pace for not a lot more money.
Our pick 2.0d 180
A very credible company car choice, although it emits slightly more CO2 than the entry-level 2.0d 163. Performance is strong enough for town and country work. However, it isn’t as punchy or refined as the equivalent engines in rival luxury saloons.
This twin-turbo diesel comes with a rear-wheel drive layout as standard, although all-wheel drive is available as an option. It’s a very smooth and refined engine, made even better by the slick eight-speed automatic gearbox. More expensive to run than the other diesels, but still delivers respectable running costs.
2.0 Petrol 200
This 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine comes with an automatic gearbox as standard and a rear-wheel drive layout; a manual ’box is not available. We’re yet to try this entry-level petrol XF, but it promises decently strong performance with acceptable running costs for low-mileage drivers.
2.5 Petrol 250
The higher-powered of the two 2.0-litre petrol engines delivers impressive performance. It’s a smooth and quiet engine, too, and there’s no major economy or CO2 emissions penalty for choosing it over the lower-powered unit. As standard, an eight-speed automatic sends power to the rear wheels, although four-wheel drive is available as an option.
3.0 V6 Supercharged
This automatic-only supercharged petrol is also found in Jaguar’s sporty F-Type. There's enough oomph at low revs but the real meat of this engine’s pull is higher up the rev range – it loves to be thrashed and sounds great. It compliments the XF’s superb handling well, but you’ll need deep pockets to buy and run it.
3.0 V6 Diesel
The most powerful diesel engine in the range. It’s certainly no slouch, capable of dispatching the 0-60mph sprint in less than six seconds. Thanks to lots of power low down in the rev range, it feels as quick if not quicker than the V6 petrol in the real world. It's reasonably smooth, too.