As in the XE or Discovery Sport, this generally isn’t a problem at low revs, but is revealed all too easily under acceleration. Despite extra efforts made to improve the XF’s sound-deadening, the four-pot’s high voice isn’t easily isolated. It’s also not, as we’ve previously noted, the most free-revving diesel unit in the world. Jaguar is betting most people won’t care, though. The 317lb ft available from 1750rpm gives the XF long legs, and the gearbox’s many ratios keeps the flexibility and waft potential high. Only a minority will query the gallop having been indulged at a canter.
This is especially true when you realize that the majority of your critical faculties - hands, feet, arms, spine, backside and the bit of your brain not connected to your ears - is almost always being swept along in rapt contentment. The dynamic qualities that marked out the XE as special are successfully replicated here, albeit fine-tuned to fill out a larger model with the 5 Series’ long-striding talent in mind.
Accordingly, the XF’s manners at high speed are quite impeccable. On optional 20in wheels and the passive ‘sports’ version of Jaguar’s double-wishbone and rear Integral Link suspension - and, admittedly, parboiled Spanish highways - the XF rides not just with comfort or stability or composure but an homologation of the three so crisp and cleverly modulated that it threatens to plough through the glass ceiling that separates mid-size execs from limo-sized luxury.
The overriding sensation is one of accuracy. The XF is apparently unwilling to give up even one flabby micrometer more than it needs to in either wheel or body control, yet it steadily plots a mid-way balance between pliancy and poise that requires serious aggravation in order for it to wear thin. The steering, too, is made to measure. Where the original XF was supple but a mite overly sensitive at pace, its replacement is so minutely biddable, linear and stiction-free that it’s possible to lock one arm at the ten-to-two and feel direction changes emanating from the cleft of your shoulder - a rifle stock-style attribute all but extinct in modern saloons. The result is that rare thing: a four-door, five-seat car that doesn’t just make an empty motorway bearable, but uniquely enjoyable.
The chassis tuning, then, is clearly of the highest order, yet the bedrock for all this finesse will be equally conspicuous to anyone familiar with the earlier XF. As worthy as it was, that model never quite banished the whiff of creak and twist from its Blue Oval-borrowed underpinnings. Its successor, bolstered by the new platform and other advances made in assembly, is a tangibly better-built car. Jaguar equates this to a 28% stiffening of the body’s torsional rigidity, but it shows up on the road as that magnificent sense of solidness that we tend to associate with cars heralding from east of the Rhine.
The benefit of less kerb weight - and the distribution of that lower mass at close to 50/50 front to rear - is also readily apparent. And while the occasional Spanish switchback hinted that the XF hasn’t emerged completely unscathed from a lengthening of its wheelbase, for the most part the handling resists the implication that it may have become a trifle more staid. Naturally, its finer moments are encountered on fast A-roads, where the fluency of the chassis feeds into an intuitive reading of the road and the impartial front-to-back balance encourages commitment.
Given the plentiful grip and the feelsome nature of it all, taking it too far is an entirely conscious decision - reciprocated by the early alarm bell onset of understeer, followed up with the kind of progressive, easily catchable involvement we’ve come to expect from a rear-drive Jaguar.