I drove the Jaguar XF a few years back, and wasn’t all that impressed by it. This new one though, is another story altogether. A very pleasant surprise!

Jaguar Land Rover have been on a roll. There’s a brand new car being launched every few months, and it all looks extremely exciting. We’ve had the F-Pace, i-Pace, XE from Jag. The whole new Discovery, Discovery Sport, Velar from Land Rover, and they’re just getting started. There’s a bunch of electric cars on their way. So is the next generation Defender. As I said, a lot’s happening.

But then a lot would happen. Under Ford, Jag’s model count dwindled at a time when BMW, Mercedes and Audi were busy expanding their range to fill every niche possible. There’s a German car in every size and price range you can think of. By comparison, Jaguar’s model count is miniscule. Jaguar Land Rover have also been very smart about the segments they’ve launched cars in. Largely stayed away from niche categories and focussed instead on core, high volume segments. It’s working well for the company. Sales are on the rise, and the premium nature of cars has been maintained.

The new XF is the first car in the post Ford era to get the “whole new” treatment, and I had the chance to drive it around Bombay for a few days. I must say I was left impressed.

I’d driven the last generation XF a few years ago, and felt the car was left wanting in some areas. The interior for example, looked great, but wasn’t nearly as big on quality as the Germans. That’s been solved to a large extent in this new XF. Materials are vastly improved as compared to the previous gen model. I quite fancy the new design too. It’s much cleaner, and the backlit grooves on the centre console do look stylish by night.

A big upgrade comes in the form of a new touch sensitive LCD screen, with a whole new user interface. I cannot emphasise enough, how much of a better car the XF is because of this one change. The previous screen and user interface were a total mess. This new one ticks a lot of boxes, provides seamless bluetooth connectivity and even offers navigation support for India. Our Prestige variant also came with a 380W Meridian audio system, which produced an immersive audio experience. On the whole, a big win for in-car entertainment & user experience.

Another improvement comes in the form of the Ingenium series of diesel engines. The one I drove was the 2.0L diesel, with 180bhp on tap. The sprint to 100kmph comes in about 9s, which makes it slower than the competition, but still quick enough.

Frankly, from behind the wheel, the XF is a fun car to drive. Throw it into a corner, and it’s well balanced and predictable. It’s composed and agile, words you wouldn’t generally associate with a 5m long luxury saloon.

There’s 4 drive modes to choose from – rain/ snow, Eco, Normal and Dynamic.

There’s 4 drive modes to choose from – rain/ snow, Eco, Normal and Dynamic. I mostly drove around town in the normal mode. This kept engine chatter to a minimum and lightened the steering wheel, but delayed the throttle response just a bit. Dynamic mode weighs up the steering, and allows the car to coast at higher revs, meaning power is more readily available.

What about the suspension? Well, it is tuned to be a little stiffer than the previous car. It’s great with large wavelength undulations. This means highways are a cruise, the car rides well, and irons out large bumps like a charm. It’s pliant and supple, more so when the speed increases. Throw the Eastern and Western Express highway at this car, and it swallows them in a single gulp. On tougher roads, at slower speeds, I did notice the suspension responding with a louder thud. But on the whole, the ride was pleasant.

During my 3 days with the XF, I largely drove it around town, and found the power to be more than adequate for a car of this size. Driving it was easy, even fun. There was enough torque on tap, making overtaking easy.

I was even chauffeured around a couple of times, and found the back seat to be much more comfortable than the previous car. Wheelbase is up, so there was more legroom at the back, and the seats were contoured well, allowing for a comfortable sitting position.

On the outside, I dig the way this new XF looks. It’s sharper than the previous generation model. Gone are the sweat back headlamps, replaced instead with what looks like a finely crafted crystal element. There’s so much detail in the headlamp design. At night, with the LED lights on, some light leaks into the crystal enclosure. Looks quite stunning, in my opinion. Apart from the headlamps, the new car has clean lines, and looks handsome from every angle.

I think the new XF is an improvement in every department you can think of. It’s better to drive, better to sit in, more refined, with better in-car entertainment. I expect this car to do well in the Indian market, purely on merit!

If you’re in the market looking for a luxury saloon, the XF is a very strong contender!