Proof that the Jaguar XF is a proper Jaguar in all the tangible and intangible senses of that statement comes with an assessment of its ride and handling capabilities. It is the control weights – the smooth, light and precise steering, and the easily modulated brakes – that make the XF such a pleasure to drive in every situation.
It doesn't matter which variant you choose, either. The Jaguar XF is a car that steers faithfully and with enough communication to ensure that its reputation as the best driver’s car of its class extends from even the base model to the range-topper.
If there are any niggles in this area, it is with low-speed ride over very specific road finishes, and then only in the models powered by the 2.2 diesel. The higher-powered XFs set the benchmark in such matters, but oddly the four-cylinder car communicates high-frequency undulations that other models in the range soak up effectively. Particularly at higher urban speeds, and with cornering forces involved, there is a slight patter over broken surfaces.
Still, this is one occasional flaw in a chassis set-up that otherwise remains at the top of its game, regardless of the model type. Although softer than most rivals, the XF remains a lesson in how to make a car soak up the worst of the road surface without corrupting body control: it's a trait that few manufacturers do well.
Notably, this is done without any complex interference. Most variants of the XF get adaptive dampers, which can be set-up ever so slightly more firmly for press-on driving on smooth surfaces, but most of the time their standard mode is more than adequate. Simply, it's a car well set up on dampers that suit all occasions – an ideal balance not only for the mundane duties that this car will generally be tasked with, but also one that allows for that crucial spark of entertainment that too often gets sacrificed in a car of this class.
Meanwhile, the XF steers with unerring accuracy and even a little road feel, a rarity in this class. The overall handling balance is fine, too.
It's the deftness of ride and handling and steering that leaves the Jaguar XF, to this day, our favourite car in the class to drive.