Jaguar XF Diesel S

Twin-turbo V6 engine is the big cat’s most powerful oil-burner ever. But do impressive figures deliver an outstanding drive?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Jaguar is known for making some of the best engines in the world, and this new 3.0-litre diesel further bolsters that reputation. No other diesel can muster a smoother or more linear power delivery, as well as such impressive in-gear acceleration. The Jag retains the composed handling of its stablemates, but with a new level of refinement that makes it a truly first-class way to travel. A highly capable and desirable saloon.

IT’S the car that blurs the line between performance and economy. The XF Diesel S is the most powerful oil-burner Jaguar has ever produced, with 271bhp and 600Nm of torque, but driven with care it will still return more than 40mpg. Can it deliver the best of both worlds – cruising refinement, and a fun driving experience when the pace quickens?

The 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel engine is a masterpiece of engineering. Not only does it emit 10 per cent less CO2 and return 12 per cent more mpg than the 2.7-litre unit it replaces, but it takes on the mighty BMW 535d and wins!

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Jaguar XF

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With more torque, a faster 0-60mph time, lower emissions and the same fuel economy as the German car, there’s a new diesel champion in town – on paper at least. The secret to this engine’s success is a pair of clever sequential turbos.

For day-to-day driving, the larger of the two turbines does all the work while the smaller one is disengaged – saving energy and improving efficiency. When the revs climb above 2,800rpm, the second turbo kicks in, boosting the engine further for sustained acceleration.

Turbo lag is undetectable, and with 33 per cent more power and 61 per cent more torque than the old 2.7-litre from 1,500rpm, delivery is linear regardless of which gear the updated six-speed ZF automatic transmission is in. But this car is about so much more than the headline figures.

It wouldn’t be a Jaguar unless it went about its business in a refined, comfortable manner. And the XF Diesel S achieves just that – sound insulation and ride comfort are superb. Yet it’s the engine that really impresses by managing to stay quiet and smooth at any speed, while a 50-70mph time of 3.2 seconds demonstrates its crushing overtaking ability.

Flex your right foot and the motor pauses for a moment, before dropping down a few gears and catapulting the car forward. Choose Sport mode on Jaguar’s Drive Select dial, though, and the throttle and gearbox both react with more urgency. However, the car never feels quite as quick as the figures would have you believe – or a BMW 535d for that matter.

Styling-wise, the XF Diesel S is distinguished by a modest boot spoiler and ‘S’ badging. The class-leading cabin remains untouched, with the rotating air vents and rising gear selector giving it a special feel unseen in any German rival.

Our car was decked out in new range-topping Portfolio trim, with kit including an excellent Bowers and Wilkins stereo, 20-inch wheels and front seats that are both heated and cooled. Jaguar also offers a detuned variant. With 238bhp and 500Nm of torque, it’s still no shrinking violet – the 0-60mph and top speed drop to 6.7 seconds and 149mph, but economy and CO2 emissions remain the same.

Unless you demand the drama of the XFR with its 500bhp supercharged V8, the XF Diesel S has all the performance most people will ever need, while still delivering excellent economy. It might not produce the fireworks that it promises on paper, but as a refined and effortless way to travel it’s difficult to think of another car that comes close.

Rival: BMW 535d An overly firm ride and high list price are the only bugbears in a phenomenal car. The engine is not as refined as the Jag’s, but its searing pace comes as standard

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