An absolute pleasure: rewarding without being challenging
Flashy features and a comfortable driving position, but not every fit and finish is perfect
Some concerns, including disappointing Euro NCAP crash test score
Build quality could feel more solid but mechanics should prove reliable
Lots of shoulder room, but the sloping roof makes things cramped in the back
Loads of standard kit including handy parking sensors and sat-nav
Whichever XF you buy, you'll love driving it. It's one of the best-handling cars in its class, with sharp, sensitive steering and plenty of grip. Not only that, it also rides smoothly over most roads, and it's smooth and stable on the motorway. The XF is available with a choice of four diesel engines: the entry-level 2.2 versions (with 161bhp or 197bhp) are the more efficient but the brawnier 3.0 V6 diesels (with 237bhp or 271bhp) suit the car's sporty character much better and are more a little more refined, too. All the diesels come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. If you don't care about running costs, there are three petrol versions to consider: a 3.0 V6 and two hugely powerful 5.0-litre V8s. The V8s are blisteringly fast, and fuel and tax bills will be just as eye-watering.
The high-tech interior sets the Jaguar XF apart from rivals, but some of the gizmos take some mastering. The touch-screen infotainment system is particularly frustrating, because the small on-screen icons are too hard to hit on the move.
The XF doesn't feel as big as a BMW 5 Series inside, mainly because that sleek roofline limits headroom in the back. Four adults should still be able to settle in comfortably, but the raised transmission tunnel makes sitting in the middle rear seat a little awkward.
The 500-litre boot is only slightly smaller than you get in a BMW 5 Series, so there's plenty of space for luggage. The rear seats also fold to extend the space when you need to carry long loads.
Standard kit levels are very impressive; all XFs come with a DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity as well as automatic headlamps and dual-zone climate control.
Jaguar has been voted number one manufacturer in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey, and the XF was the most highly rated executive car. It came second overall, and mechanical reliability is considered to be excellent.
On the whole, safety kit goes way above and beyond the norm, so as well as the front, side and curtain airbags and anti-whiplash head restraints, there's stability and traction control. Pedestrian safety is maximised by a pop-up bonnet to cushion the impact against the engine. However, the XF is one of the only passenger cars we've come across which doesn't allow you to switch off the front passenger airbag - even as a cost option - so you can't fit a rear-facing child seat here. It also scored only four out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, with just 73% for child safety and 79% for adults. That means a BMW 5 Series will keep you safer in a crash.
If you want an impressive, beautiful car that will make every journey a treat, then the XF is a terrific choice. The XF is competitively priced and should hold its value strongly, which helps keep whole-life costs down. However, neither the fuel economy nor CO2 emissions are as good as the best rivals, so it's not the most economical company car, and it lags behind rivals in crash tests, too.