If the previous XF was about dramatic insurrection into German territory, the new one is a more methodical expansion of its hard-won place in buyers’ minds.

Consequently, its slightly different proportions notwithstanding, the model doesn’t look drastically different from before, despite Jaguar’s insistence that the design was born of a clean sheet. This, of course, is nonsense. Being instantly recognisable as a Jaguar was rule number one, necessitating that it adhere to the same raked shape that had gone before.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Further reductions in the XF’s drag comes from using apertures in the front bumper to channel air over the front wheels

Fitting this familiar profile onto the new platform was the more pressing task, the smaller XE’s size having helped to dictate the dimensions that its modular aluminum-intensive architecture must now adopt.

The move to a cutting-edge amalgamation of exotic alloys, self-piercing rivets and structural adhesives is the latest model’s defining feature. Its chief benefits – as much as 190kg shed from the kerb weight, a 28 percent increase in rigidity and 51mm gained in the wheelbase – directly affect much that we are about to discuss.

Aesthetically, though, they are cleverly hidden in the car’s elongated rear deck and dramatically shortened front overhang, resulting in a car that is 7mm shorter than before.

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The body delivers near 50/50 weight distribution, with the chassis again based on front double wishbones and Jaguar’s own integral link rear suspension. Gaydon has persisted with this rear set-up’s weight penalty over a conventional multi-link in return for the freedom it offers its engineers in independently tuning for lateral and longitudinal loads.

More recent innovation comes in the form of new passive dampers, which feature an extra valve in the piston that remains open (and more supple) at urban speeds, and then closes as the pace increases to make the ride progressively firmer.

The car is built on Jaguar’s lightweight aluminium intensive architecture and has been given different chassis set-up from the saloon. Despite the different settings the model retains the sporty setup of its sibling.

The XF Sportbrake has air springs at the rear in place of the saloon’s standard steel coils to enhance its load-lugging capability. The air springs have been designed to keep the body composed even when carrying loads and are claimed to be most effective when combined with optional adaptive dampers. As for its boot space there is 565 litres to play with, with the rear seats up and 1700 litres with them down. That beats the XF saloon by 25 litres and 815 litres respectively and puts it very close to the carrying capabilities of the BMW 5 Series Touring.

The XF is exclusively rear-wheel drive, although it can be had with Intelligent All Wheel Drive, a system that sends power to the rear wheels a majority of the time until extra traction is required. Powering the XF is predominantly the work of the new 2.0-litre, all-aluminium Ingenium diesel engine in 161bhp, 178bhp and 235bhp guises.

The four-cylinder unit features common-rail injection, variable-geometry turbochargers and variable valve timing – not to mention the selective catalytic reduction technology that ensures EU6 compliance. The diesel range is completed with a 296bhp 3.0-litre V6.

The petrol range is new for 2017, with the four-cylinder Ingenium 2.0-litre units making use of continuously variable valve lift technology to boost performance and efficiency. The trios output are 197bhp, 247bhp and 296bhp respectively, while topping the range is a 3.0-litre V6 found in the XF S pumping out 375bhp. 

Jaguar’s go-to gearbox, the eight-speed ZF automatic, remains an option across the board (and standard on the 296bhp diesel and 377bhp petrol V6s), but a six-speed manual – also co-developed with ZF – is the default transmission, and it is this version that delivers 71.7mpg and 104g/km efficiency when twinned with the lower-powered Ingenium.

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