Jaguar XF V6 Supercharged
'The new XF is the best Jaguar you don't really need'
Engine capacity: 3-litre supercharged petrol
Power output (PS @ rpm):340 @ 6,500
Top speed (mph): 155 0-60 mph (seconds): 5.7
Fuel economy (mpg): 30
CO2 emissions (g/km): 224
The Jaguar XF has always been the executive saloon of choice for fast-rising corporate types who still like to drive themselves around, but want a dose of luxury, comfort and class to let the rest of us know they have made it. And if you are lucky enough for that to be you, you're in luck because Jaguar has updated it for 2013 with a new range of engines and a clutch of new gadgets.
Design purists will be pleased that Jaguar's head designer Ian Callum has changed little in the car's appearance (he's been busy on the forthcoming F-Type sports car). This is very good indeed because the XF remains just cool enough to be desirable, but still that little bit too grown up for the kids (and boy racers). Some people will continue to moan that it looks like an Aston Martin from the back, but they're wrong, and that's hardly a valid complaint anyway.
What's new under the bonnet? Well, there's a new entertainment system and plenty of leather (sadly Jaguar still lags just behind its German rivals for interior quality), but most interestingly there is a range of more efficient engines, including the V6 petrol I'm testing, start-stop technology and an eight-speed automatic gearbox to replace the slightly ponderous six-speed version in the old car.
And if you live in Europe, North America or much of the rest of the world, you can opt for the all-wheel drive version.
The standard logic is that it's the firm's stablemate Land Rover that benefits from cold weather (visits to its website treble), but with the new XF (and the larger XJ) Jaguar is hoping to boost its share of the lucrative luxury-saloon market in colder climates (a big market Jaguar was missing out on).
I tested it recently in frozen Quebec on an XJ model with the same V6 supercharged engine and it's a sweet combination. It's a shame it isn't coming to Britain because it is clever enough to retain Jaguar's focused driving characteristics in normal conditions but keep you safe in the snow.
So if you live in the Rockies or the Alps, the XF is now a solid rival to the Germanic offerings from BMW, Audi and Mercedes. In Surbiton or Solihull it's less useful (and not available), but you can at least get the new engine. But if I'm honest it's still hard to recommend it over one of Jaguar's more frugal (and still very quick) diesel engines. Yes, it's smooth, fast and delivers power effortlessly without the painful fuel bills of a bigger V8 petrol, but it will still only get you 30mpg.
So there you are. The supercharged XF is a wonderful car you should only buy if you live abroad. Next week I'm testing the all-new Ford Fiesta, Britain's biggest-selling car, hopefully that will be more useful for you.
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