Winner Executive and Luxury
Jaguar XF 2.7D V6
Dealer price 19,120
Private price 17,895
The XF was Jaguars car-design watershed. It swept away the companys stuffy, traditional image and replaced it with a sharp, contemporary look and feel. It proved a huge hit when it went on sale in 2008, and there are now so many on the used market that you can pick up this sporty saloon for less than 20,000.
The contemporary design continues inside, and everything you touch and interact with feels solid and well built. There is a small price to pay for the rakish roofline, because headroom is limited in the back, but theres still space for four and the boot is an impressive 500 litres; the folding rear seats allow you to carry longer loads.
You can hear the diesel engine, but it sounds refined and sporty, not irritating. Wind and road noise have largely been filtered out, too. The XF handles with a sporting agility that belies its size, its steering is accurate and informative, and the ride is firm yet compliant. At high speeds the XF is sure-footed and stable.
The 2.7-litre V6 performs well, getting the car to 60mph in just 7.7 seconds and averaging 37.6mpg. The newer 3.0-litre engine might be more powerful and efficient, but its still pricey.
Theres no such thing as a poorly equipped XF, so youre best off sticking with the entry-level Luxury. This comes with leather upholstery, 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control and a high-end entertainment system with large colour touch-screen.
The XF has scored well in customer satisfaction surveys, but it isnt immune to faults: the central locking system can sulk, as can the alarm, which can go off randomly. The fuel filler cap can also jam.
BMW 5 Series 520d SE,
A stunning car for very sensible money. Its great to drive, surprisingly economical and reliable what more could you want?
Audi A8 3.0 TDI SE,
The A8 is big, sophisticated and beautifully refined, and comes with an economical diesel engine.
Land Rover Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Vogue,
This is a luxury car thats also a great 4x4 and good value. The diesel engine will help keep fuel bills down.
Alan Senior, head of valuation services, CDL Ltd
The XF is a seriously desirable and sophisticated car, and manages to fight off fierce competition from its German rivals.