There's no more prosaic car than a diesel-powered saloon. In Britain, four out of five of all BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class sales are four-cylinder oil burners, the sight of one in British suburbia being as common as a privet hedge, twitching curtains and distrust of the European Union.
However, there's nothing humdrum about this, the Jaguar XF 2.2-litre diesel. First of all, it's the first time that Jaguar has really taken on the Germans with its award-winning saloon. One of the reasons you don't see many XFs on the road is that with a V6 diesel and a V8 petrol, Jaguar has until now been aiming at only 20% of the market.
Also, Jaguar is now owned by an Indian company, which recently announced the building of an engine plant in my home town of Wolverhampton. And so, for someone whose family emigrated from India to work in factories in the West Midlands in the 1960s, this car is important, a watershed, a sign of how the people who once came to Britain to work, and back then were harangued for doing so, are now providing employment. So there were reasons I wanted to recommend this car.
Having given its vital statistics the once over, I expected to be disappointed. The XF isn't as fuelefficient as the BMW 520d, its main German counterpart - its CO2 emissions put it in the 22% company car tax bracket compared with 20% for the BMW. Given that the XF will cost only around £500 less than the 520d auto, the BMW may work out cheaper as a company car.
However, the advantages of the XF become apparent once you're behind the wheel. Satellite navigation, MP3 connectivity, leather seats and an auto gearbox are standard but would cost thousands to add to a BMW. And it is brilliant to drive. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and seamless. The soundproofing is good enough to make you forget that you're driving a diesel. And the stop-start system is the most intelligent on the market. This car deserves to do very well. But, the real test of its success will be when middle-aged Asian men living in the suburbs - who are so attached to their German saloons - begin to embrace it.
4 OUT OF 5
Jaguar XF 2.2 litre Diesel
Engine: 2,179 cc, four cylinder
Power: 187 bhp @ 3,500 rpm
Torque: 332 lb/ft @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 52.3 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 149 g/km
0-60 mph: 8.0 seconds
Top speed: 140 mph (limited)