What is it?
This is the most powerful diesel in the newly-revamped XF range. It uses the company’s familiar, but first-rate, V6 diesel engine in a higher-power form, gaining 47bhp and a handsome 71lbft of torque over the basic V6 diesel.
Co2 emissions are cut by 10g/km to 169g/km and the official combined economy figure of 44.8mpg improves on the 42mpg of the outgoing car.
The entry-level (‘Luxury’) Diesel V6 model costs £36,950, the ‘Luxury’ spec Diesel S costs £42,950. For that six grand, as well as the performance hike, you get the same adaptive damping and ‘R’-spec sports interior as the XKR, as well dramatic exterior styling package.
The model we tried on the mountainous roads south of Munich was the range-topping Portfolio spec, which adds, among other things, 18-way adjustable electric seats and a 1200w Bowers & Wilkins stereo system.
What’s it like?
It’s an extremely impressive machine. The engine seems, to my ears, to be more refined than it is in Autocar’s long-term test XJ. Even though it was swallowing super-heated Baverian air, it had serious overtaking punch and the motor was seamless in its torque delivery.
It’s hooked up to an eight-speed auto, which adds to the turbine sensation because the motor is virtually never caught in a gear that doesn’t make the best use of the torque curve. Unlike the 2.2 diesel XF, the box also ‘locks up’ very quickly after pulling away, delivering the sensation of ‘direct-drive’ usually associated with a manual transmission. (In pursuit of economy, the ‘box in the 2.2 XF shifts rapidly up through the ratios, which delivers the rather odd CVT-like ‘churning’ sensation, before locking up once the car is doing something over 20mph).
There’s not much to criticise about this car as a driving machine. On the sweeping open roads south of Munich, the V6D S was both serene and settled in all circumstances, even on long, rapid, curves that both changed in elevation and radius. At 100mph on the autobahn, the XF is unerringly stable and unfazed.
At normal velocities, the steering is accurate and nicely-weighted, the seats superb and the brakes are wonderfully easy to manipulate up the point where it feels as if the wheels would lock.
However, this car’s main downside - if that’s not too strong a word - was the ride, which while really admirable for a car with such large (20in) wheels did thump and jar over ridges somewhat. It was just a background irritation, but I mention it mainly because I drove this car back-to-back with the V8 supercharged XFR which had a truly sublime ride, beautifully absorbing the few lumps and bumps on the local roads.
Ultimately, there’s something extremely satisfying about a car which allows the driver to demolish distances with such ease. The looks, turbine-like diesel, fine seats, serenely crisp chassis and driver-centric cockpit seal the deal.
Should I buy one?
If you have the budget for it, the XF V6 S makes a very strong case indeed for itself against the BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-Class. Although the XF doesn’t have the same interior space, the XF is clearly a more enjoyable - and inherently enthusiastic - driver’s car than the rather stolid 5-series. It is also more driver-centred than the limo-lite E-Class. Be in no doubt, Jaguar may be an automotive minnow, but this car stands head-to-head with best Germany can offer.