Ready to pounce

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - KENTMOTORS TEST DRIVE -

The XF has al­ways faced a bit of an up­hill bat­tle to im­pose it­self. It’s com­pet­ing against some of the finest sa­loons in the world from the be­he­moths that are BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

The styling is typ­i­cally Jaguar. To these slightly im­paired eyes the front end is rem­i­nis­cent of the larger XJ – no bad thing in my opin­ion – while round the back the F-Type’s in­flu­ence can be seen in the light clus­ters’ curved el­e­ments.

The seats are com­fort­able and sup­port­ive, and it’s easy to find just the right driv­ing po­si­tion.

There’s plenty of legroom in the front – it’s prob­a­bly what an es­tate agent might de­scribe as de­cep­tively spa­cious - it’s just a shame that the same can’t be said for the rear. I don’t doubt there would be stiff com­pe­ti­tion for that front seat among pas­sen­gers over six feet. Head­room isn’t overly gen­er­ous ei­ther, but then that’s the price you pay for such a svelte, sweep­ing pro­file and, in my opin­ion, it’s a bar­gain.

The dash­board curves el­e­gantly around you, cre­at­ing an in­ti­mate space that helps make the car feel much smaller than its five-me­tre length.

The ana­logue di­als in the in­stru­ment bin­na­cle have been re­placed with a 12.3in dig­i­tal dis­play that can be con­fig­ured to show ei­ther driv­ing data or sat nav info.

The 10.2in Dual View touch­screen (£615) mounted in the cen­tre of the dash­board suf­fers from the same lag that has plagued Jaguar’s mul­ti­me­dia ef­forts over the last few years. There has un­doubt­edly been a marked im­prove­ment – and the com­pany’s Touch Pro duo sys­tem that is slowly fil­ter­ing down into new mod­els from the Ve­lar is by far the most promis­ing up­grade to date – but it is still some way be­hind the com­pe­ti­tion.

The sat nav – which I found to be both re­li­able and idio­syn­cratic – as well as the ex­cel­lent au­dio sys­tem and Blue­tooth are all ac­cessed via the touch­screen.

Al­though there’s no An­droid

Auto or Ap­ple CarPlay the XF does of­fer some con­nec­tiv­ity via the suite of InCon­trol apps. Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures, the sprint to 60mph takes 6.2 sec­onds and the XF feels ev­ery bit as quick as those fig­ures sug­gest. In-gear ac­cel­er­a­tion feels par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive, in­spir­ing con­fi­dence when over­tak­ing. The eight-speed auto box is ideal for cruis­ing, the gear changes smooth and un­ob­tru­sive.

The XF feels won­der­fully ag­ile and the sus­pen­sion keeps the car planted dur­ing cor­ner­ing, there’s lit­tle body roll to com­plain about. The de­li­ciously quick steer­ing and strong front end grip means that the car is ea­ger to tackle bends.

The boot pro­vides 540 litres of space for your lug­gage (500 with a space saver fit­ted) or 963 litres with the rear seats folded (923) al­though, be­cause of the steeply raked rear wind­screen, the boot open­ing does re­strict the size of the items you can ac­tu­ally carry. As tough a bat­tle as the XF faces im­pos­ing it­self on its Ger­man ri­vals – and mak­ing a last­ing im­pres­sion in the col­lec­tive con­science of the car-buy­ing pub­lic – it makes a strong case for a place at the top ta­ble.

It lags be­hind a lit­tle on in­te­rior qual­ity and its

Teu­tonic ri­vals also of­fer slicker and clev­erer in-car tech­nol­ogy but its en­gag­ing chas­sis and com­pli­ant ride are as good as any­thing else it its class.

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