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Jaguar XF


The powerful diesel XF is the epitome of elegance, modern, yet every inch a Jaguar

I spent two weeks last Christmas with Jaguar's XF V8 and I loved almost everything about it. It looked fantastic: the epitome of elegance, modern, yet every inch a Jaguar. The cabin managed the same trick. Ahead of its time, yet with enough classic cues to link this car to its illustrious past. The wood, the leather - but there's nothing fuddy-duddy about those swiveling vents, the throbbing start button, the gear-shift dial that rises to your palm as the engine fires.

Nothing fuddy-duddy about the fuel bills too; my holiday love affair all but emptied the exchequer.

Not so with this drive, for my test car was powered by the newer, bigger and more powerful diesel. Now with 3.0, not 2.7 litres it still uses the Ford block that will also appear in a Land Rover in single turbo form, but with twin turbos for quicker throttle response and a broader delivery.

It's available in two states of tune - with 177kW and 500Nm of torque - or 202kW and 600Nm, 33 per cent more power than the outgoing motor but with a lower thirst, at a claimed 6.8. I tried the more powerful car and used a lot more fuel than that - but then I kept the six speed transmission mostly in sporting or manual modes.

Performance was relaxed in normal mode - supplying plenty of luxo-waftability, with effortless progress both round town and when cruising.

But I like more mumbo; 'sport' supplied it.

That 600Nm goes to the rear wheels, their new alloy design all that distinguishes this car from its predecessor, other than a subtle rear spoiler and S badge. And the power of course, though given the extremely wet conditions there was a limit to how much torque was really useable, without the commendably subtle intervention from the stability control.

Not that it cut in too often, for this remains a sweet-handling car, with an unruffled approach to a sinuous road.

Surprisingly, it didn't initially feel that fast; put your foot down and she gathers speed alright, but with such composure it's easy to forget just how fast you're going. It's the broad, unstoppable force of it that impresses - torque peaks at 2000rpm but there's plenty available before that. It just doesn't make a fuss about delivering it.

I went from being under-impressed by the car's lack of performance fuss, to very impressed with how calmly it gets on with delivering the pace you want.

As for the bitty stuff, it seemed a little odd to have keyless start without keyless entry, but I liked the mood lighting and loved how easy the multi-function 'driver information centre' is to use.

Is this $134,990 diesel S worth 15 grand more than its slightly less powerful diesel sibling? After all, bar its smaller 18-inch wheels and lack of S badge the lower-priced XF is identical in every respect bar the engine. Your average driver will rarely notice the power and torque differential.

But your average buyer will know it's there... and will love the hooligan-thrilling grunt, wallet-pleasing thirst and mum-in-law-cossetting comfort.

See the Jaguar XF for sale here.

Auto Trader New Zealand