While 8.4sec doesn’t sound too shabby a 0-62mph figure, the AWD feels more sluggish than this suggests. Ultimately, acceleration is adequate, and the car never felt strained accelerating to, and sitting at 130kmh on our French autoroute drive.
In normal driving conditions, the XF AWD feels little different to the two-wheel drive model. The steering remains as quick and accurate as ever, which helps the XF feel far more agile than you might expect from a big saloon - the stiffer suspension of the R-Sport test car helped further.
Firming up the XF may help handling, but it doesn't help comfort. Rough surfaces agitate the ride, although it never becomes outright unpleasant. If you’re swayed by the racy styling of the R-Sport model, you'll put up with it, but the Prestige and Portfolio models have a softer set-up and a more compliant ride.
It’s really only when you push the XF hard enough to begin losing traction that the differences between two and four-wheel drive XFs become apparent. Of course, on wet and icy roads, the difference is seen sooner. On dry roads, you'll have to be trying exceedingly hard to get power sent to the front wheels.
If you do manage to unstick the rear tyres, the tail of the car steps out only fractionally and momentarily before the AWD system shuffles power around, pulling the car out of the slide before it becomes even slightly out of control. It’s safe, but still much more exciting than the equivalent Audi system.
As for the rest of the car, it’s much the same as any other XF. That means an attractive interior, decent rear space and a bigger boot than any of its rivals. It also means material quality that is still behind the likes of Audi and a diesel engine that is less refined than the best out there.