When you consider that it's only a bit over six years since Jaguar joined the diesel engine club, what its engineers have achieved with this new engine is nothing short of remarkable. What is important for the now Indian-owned Jaguar brand is that the new XF diesel gives the company a red-hot rival for its German arch rivals - the Audi A6 three-litre TDI, the BMW 530D and the Mercedes-Benz E350 CDI.
While the original XF diesel ran Jaguar's 2.7-litre "oiler" and it was a super-smooth machine, this new engine takes driving refinement and torque delivery to new heights. Gone is the low-down turbo lag that was inherent in the old engine and Jaguar engineers have achieved great things by blessing the new engine with a new sequential turbo-charging system, the latest in next generation common-rail injection and an improved exhaust-gas recirculation system. All of these tweaks - not to mention an additional 300ccs of capacity - have combined to boost power by 32 percent to 202kW and torque by a whopping 60 percent to a dazzling 600Nm.
The other big news is that despite all this extra power and torque, engineers have been able to cut the 2.7-litre engine's 7.5-litres/100km fuel consumption figure to 6.8-litres for the new 3.0-litre unit. Not surprisingly, on-road performance has also been increased and the new XF can sprint to 100km/h in a slippery 6.4 seconds - 1.8 seconds quicker than the old model.
Tipping the scales at 1820kg, the $112,990 XF comes with a generous inventory of standard kit that includes an excellent user-friendly satellite-navigation system, climate control "air," keyless starting, a colour touch screen, iPod/USB connection, electrically adjustable front seats, a six-CD/audio system, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, cruise control, one-touch electric windows, power exterior mirrors and 18-inch alloy wheels.
In the safety department, the XF comes standard with six airbags, stability control, anti-whiplash front head restraints and a pop-up bonnet to limit pedestrian injury. The car's interior is a classy place to be and while the seats are not as heavily bolstered as those found in other expensive performance cars, they are still pretty supportive. Out on the road the XF diesel really shines.
With buckets of lovely torque at your disposal, the car delights in spirited overtaking and hills are simply not an issue. And there is a "sport" mode that can be selected for even stronger performance delivery. Not surprisingly, the Jag's six-speed sequential sports-shifting ZF automatic transmission works a treat with the diesel engine and steering wheel-mounted shift paddles add to the fun during spirited driving. Steering is beautifully weighted and basically neutral and turn-in is predictable and responsive. The brakes also have a reassuring feel to them and stopping performance is impressive, and while the ride is on the firm, sporty side, it is not harsh.
In summary, there is no doubting that the XF turbo-diesel is right up there with the world's finest, most refined "oilers." It is generously packaged and priced well and while you'll spend more than $112,000 to put one in your garage, the car's outstanding fuel efficiency, torque delivery and driving pleasure will keep you smiling.