I have a good friend who is usually gloriously idiosyncratic in the way he goes about things in life – a great example being his purchasing of an old Jaguar XJ in which to learn to drive.

“A Jaguar should be a big, dark-green saloon or coupé with leather seats, a wooden dashboard and a V12 that does like 5mpg” is his opinion of cars in one paraphrase. And yes, he really is in his twenties…

While I fell for the Jaguar I-Pace that I test drove a few years ago, he predictably wasn’t impressed. But having this year driven our Jaguar XF, I now understand his view as well.

It’s big, it’s dark green, it’s a saloon and it has leather seats, although it is sadly lacking wood and a V12. Mind you, the plush plastic and leather dashboard looks far more modern, in keeping with the attached infotainment touchscreen (which looks understatedly classy, rather than chintzy like some, and displays software that’s outstandingly slick to operate).

6 Writers favourites 2021 jaguar xf tracking side

I borrowed our XF because I was facing a long old drive from Brighton to Sheffield and back – and my goodness, what a cosseting and adept cruiser it was. I simply sank into my seat, with not a worry about the ride quality, or the performance, or even the turbo petrol four’s economy.

Even over the course of six hours on the motorway, it was properly comfortable, despite its large wheels and the not-inconsiderable sporting bent to its chassis set-up; had sufficient acceleration for quickly getting around slower-moving traffic; felt assured on the road; and let in minimal wind and road noise to intrude on the excellent Meridian sound system.

Yes, okay, this is massively clichéd, but the ‘gentleman’s express’ thing really does continue to this day in Jaguar’s bigger saloon (although it probably won’t continue into the company’s next model generation, sadly, and for that you can thank SUVs for stealing all the sales).