From £32,5908
With a 375bhp supercharged V6 from the F-Type, the new XF's chassis gets its most thorough workout yet. It feels like it could take more, though

What is it?

At the moment, this is the most potent version of the new Jaguar XF. Packing the same 3.0-litre supercharged petrol V6 as the most powerful six-cylinder Jaguar F-Type, it puts 375bhp under your right foot.

Not only is it considerably more powerful than the range-topping diesel – that only has 296bhp – it also weighs 40kg less. Considering the diesel has an iron engine block as opposed the aluminium one fitted to this variant, a lot of that weight is coming off the front axle.

While that should assist handling, there's always the worry that the most powerful V6 could overwhelm the chassis. Our cold December test in the UK proved a stern test for the petrol XF S.

What's it like?

Impressively controllable. Despite the power increase, there’s still plenty of purchase on the road even when you disable the traction control. Sure, it’ll spin up the rear tyres quite happily in first gear, but a quick shift to second soon restores order.

Before long you learn to stop worrying about the rear tyres being overwhelmed and start to enjoy the drive. It has the same surprisingly swift feel to the steering that you get in lesser models and the same level of precision. Feedback is the best in class too.

This allows you to place the XF easily on the road and get a good idea of what the front end is doing. As you up the pace, you can feel the inherent balance of the chassis allowing you to carry speed across country with consummate ease.

Over a wide variety of surfaces – from four-lane motorways right the way down to single tracks with broken tarmac – the XF has exemplary body control. While it does always err on the firm side, this seems entirely in keeping with its sports saloon remit.

Even on 20in wheels, it's hard to fault the way it deals with bumps, compressions and potholes. There’s enough pliancy that it never becomes uncomfortable, while float and wallow are absent even with the suspension in Normal mode.

Wind things up to Dynamic and it can feel too hard for a typical UK B-road, although the added roll resistance and tighter body control is welcome. For normal use it’s unnecessary, but on smoother roads it certainly helped it feel even more sporting.

Indeed, our only complaint regarding the suspension is that the occasional sharp ridge or particularly nasty compression could send a thud through the chassis. It’s worth mentioning that this is something you hear much more than feel.

As for the engine, it’s certainly an effective unit once the revs have passed 3000rpm - no surprise when peak torque is up at 4500rpm. Those expecting a diesel-like shove from barely above idle may be disappointed, but then the oil-burner won’t spin round to 7000rpm.

As you’d hope from a supercharged unit, there’s no sudden lump of power. The ramp-up of urge is linear and very easy to judge with your right foot. It’s not as creamy as you might expect from a V6 though.

Nor is it particularly sonorous. You can tell there are six-cylinders and a supercharger under the bonnet, but the exhaust note doesn’t egg you on. Even cracking a window open doesn’t improve things; there’s none of the aural fireworks you get from an Jaguar F-Type.

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The gearbox is the familiar eight-speed ZF auto with paddles for manual shifts. For the most part it’s a smooth gearbox, although it does share the same hesitancy when pulling away from a standstill that seems to blight Jaguars.

As for the interior, like the other XFs we’ve tested it has a roomy cabin for passengers both front and rear. Thanks to plenty of adjustment, it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and at first glance this seems an attractive place to be.

Further investigation reveals some cheap-feeling plastics in surprisingly obvious places. This may be hard to stomach on a £32,000 car, but it's even more disappointing when you consider the model we tested costs more than £60,000 after options.

Not that you need to option too much. On top of the standard 8in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav and a variety of connectivity options, the S also gains a powerful, high-quality Meridian sound system.

There are also heated leather sports seats up front, adaptive cruise control, keyless start, a suitably sporty bodykit with wide spaced twin exhaust pipes and adaptive dampers thrown in for the £49,945 asking price.

Should I buy one?

There’s no doubt that the supercharged V6 gives the chassis of the new XF its best workout yet. Despite the hike in power, it copes with the increase exceptionally well; you really can use the extra grunt without fear of it biting you.

Despite this, you’d have to really need a petrol powerplant in your life to opt for this engine. While official figures put combined fuel consumption at 34mpg, we got this figure well below 20mpg without too much trouble.

Carbon emissions are also predictably high at 198g/km, just 1g/km less than a much faster twin-turbo V8 BMW 550i. To further stick the knife in, the diesel V6 can feel just as quick if not quicker in real world situations. The petrol may have more outright power, but the diesel has far more torque that’s much easier to access.

Unsurprisingly, then, this motor will be a niche choice in this country. What it does show is that there’s plenty of scope for an even higher output under the bonnet. As a warm-up act for an R version, it works pretty well. 

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Jaguar XF S 3.0 V6 380PS

Location Berkshire, UK; On sale Now; Price £49,945; Engine V6, 2995cc, supercharged petrol; Power 375bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 332lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1710kg; 0-60mph 5.1sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 34.0mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 198g/km, 34%

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SAS32 7 December 2015

I owned a low mileage XF SV8

I owned a low mileage XF SV8 a few years ago and whilst it was a nice drive the quality was terrible. Rust on the boot lid was a common issue as were faulty fuel filler flaps and gear selectors, which is why I wasn't surprised when I suffered with all of these. I was rather surprised when the plastic sunroof cassette broke (same cassette as a Mondeo) and left the glass panel lopsided, the rust on the inner lips of both front arches, the delaminating front screen, the keyless entry that worked intermittently and the broken wiring for the rear view camera. The front seats were atrocious, the trim rattled and the easy entry steering wheel would squeak as it motored in and out, and the ambient lighting only extended as far as the front doors. It felt like it had been designed and manufactured on a tight budget and it looks like the same might be true of its replacement too.
Citytiger 3 December 2015

I think

Jaguar need to have a very close look at the interior of the new S90, compare it with the new XF, then slap their designer and rip it out and start again.
Cobnapint 3 December 2015

@Here's my name again

You've just said what I've been thinking for a long time - nobodys that obsessed, Roadster works in Cov. His posts have even started to parody himself.