The challenge of making a modern saloon agile, comfortable, fast, tenaciously grippy and confidence-inspiring all at once has – to varying degrees – been accomplished by each manufacturer that Jaguar would consider a rival.
Where they have been less successful is in making what is a sophisticated and computer-controlled product feel fun or feelsome in the nominally organic way that a mechanical device ought.
It is this quality, among others, that the XF keenly addresses. A better-tuned chassis, with four doors, a large boot to the rear and a heavy oil-burner at the front, you will not find anywhere.
Separate the whole into any of its constituent parts – traction, turn-in, responsiveness, ride comfort – and from the driver’s seat, the compromise struck by Jaguar seems uncannily well judged.
The electric power steering, although inevitably lacking in granular feedback, is a progressively weighted and delectably quick affair. The previous XF’s rack was dainty and accurate. This one has a real oily, intuitive physicality to it. The rate of response is ramped up to suit the model’s sporting character, although not to the extent that it might overburden its fundamental ease of use.
The suspension, even on the R-Sport’s modestly stiffer set-up, strikes a similar balance. Jaguar has outdone itself with a passive configuration that deftly manages secondary intrusions, flows like emulsion through the primary and yet never gives up so much as a fat thumbnail’s depth in body control when progress is more strenuous.