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 F-Type.
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.