The Jaguar XF saloon remains best in class in many important ways. No other mid-size exec blends simple involvement with ample performance, excellent refinement, fluid handling and such a skilfully judged ride. None quite equals it as a driver’s car.

As a result, the saloon scores a 4.5-star rating. However, we’re docking half a star this time around. As an even smoother-riding XF, the Sportbrake is entirely fit for purpose, but its slight shortage of ultimate handling balance is regrettable.

The Sportbrake's lack of ultimate balance denies it a higher star rating.

A cabin that feels slightly tight – even a little antiquated here and there – now does much less to recommend the XF than it once did, and the fuel economy of the models we've tested hasn't been outstanding.

But it’s a very comfortable, practical and well mannered family car, with strong ownership prospects in most other respects and enough sporting pace and verve to merit a decent if not class-leading billing.

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