Motor Mouth

Jaguar is finally back on form with its XF 4.2 SV8 exec saloon. It's beautiful both outside and inside, says Sathnam Sanghera.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Business can be a funny business sometimes. Take Ford, for example. The car manufacturer has spent recent years posting gargantuan losses. But then, earlier this year, amid general global economic distress and rising fuel prices, and having sold Land Rover and Jaguar to India's Tata Motors for less than half what it paid for them, it startled Wall Street by reporting a pre-tax profit.

The business journalist in me has slowly managed to comprehend the development: Ford is shrinking in order to grow. But the motorist in me remains perplexed. How can a firm that has sold the three brands behind the three best cars I have driven in the past year - the Aston Martin Vantage Coupe, the TDV8 Range Rover Vogue SE, and the Jaguar XF - be on the mend?

The timing of the Jaguar sale feels particularly bizarre. I drove the top-of-the-range XF SV8 last month and can confirm that Jaguar is finally back on form. The only thing I didn't enjoy about my four-day loan of the XF was that I was unable, because of work, to drive it all of that time.

Indeed, the 48 hours the car spent sitting outside my flat, undriven, perched on the 20-inch wheels that come as standard on the SV8, were almost physically painful to withstand. It is such a beautiful machine: you could almost be looking at an Aston Martin saloon. And, if anything, the interior is even more stunning.

Some people complain that the more dramatic design flourishes, the 'motorised foreplay' of the four dashboard-mounted air outlets revolving open simultaneously, the start button pulsing red, and the gear selector knob rising from the transmission tunnel means more things breaking in time. But that's like refusing to snog Kate Hudson because she might look like Medusa at 50.

Besides, it wouldn't matter if the air outlets, the reversing camera and the stereo all went wrong, as long as the XF continued to drive as well as it does. The chassis provides a ride that's as refined as any offered by a BMW or Mercedes saloon, and yet the XF permits you, when necessary, to attack tarmac with the spiritedness of the old E-type.

In other words, the XF does everything an executive saloon could possibly do, and at the same time features some rather nifty safety gadgets, such as the 'blind spot monitoring system', which informs you if someone is lurking nearby, out of view. Even the most recent Volvo I drove didn't have that. Which brings us to another bemusing fact about Ford: it seems to have decided to hold on to Volvo. Weird.

Beautiful, inside and out.
It's not a BMW or a Merc.
Excellent diesel options.

Fancy gadgets could prove expensive to repair.

Jaguar XF 4.2 SV8 £54,900
Engine: 4.2 litre supercharged petrol
Combined power: 420 bhp at 6,250 rpm
Torque: 413 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Fuel: 22.4 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2: 299 g/km
0-62 mph: 5.1 sec
Top speed: 155 mph (limited)

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