There’s a nice irony about my first time behind the wheel of the Jaguar XF. It rolled up outside the doors of the Hyatt hotel in Dearborn, Michigan, on a very cold and grey morning, and I drove it along the pockmarked freeways to central Detroit.

Dearborn is, of course, the global headquarters of Ford, the company that is within weeks of off-loading Jaguar to Indian industrial conglomerate Tata.

It’s just short of two decades since Ford swooped in to snatch Jaguar. The Blue Oval paid a huge amount of money for it in 1989, only for company bosses to famously condemn the factory facilities as the worst outside the old Soviet Union.

Well, finally - and after a huge amount of Detroit dollars - Jaguar has nailed down what a compact, executive sporting saloon should be.

On the way along the freeway, we turned more than a few heads. The headlamp treatment might still raise eyebrows, but the XF looks modern and distinctive. And it does look like a Jaguar should.

The driving characteristics are a surprise. It follows in the footsteps of the XK by delivering a surprisingly firm, direct and even uncompromising drive.