As a case study of what Jaguar does well and what it needs to do better, the XF Sportbrake speaks volumes. Among its peers this remains perhaps the stand-out chassis, capable of engaging its driver when the moment arises but also calmly lapping up miles on all manner of roads as required. And the launch of all-new rivals has hardly diminished the appeal of this car’s striking good looks.
However, on the evidence of this test, Jaguar’s mid-size saloon and estate now fall markedly short in terms of cabin isolation, materials quality and the digital onboard experience, which together are crucial in attracting a modern audience. Cabin noise is a particular concern, and we’d contend that a flagship model warrants no fewer than six cylinders in its nose, not only in the interests of performance but also character; in diesel form, of course, the XF still gets them – and, we dare say, an Ingenium straight-six powered petrol will be along to redress the balance soon enough.
The XF is a likeable, at times delightful, all-weather steer, but without a major mid-life facelift, it’s at risk of acquiring anachronism status next to high-tech rivals.