Jaguar's new XF saloon leads charge of light brigade
Jaguar's new mid-size executive, the XF saloon, has just arrived here and will cost from €43,205.
For anyone looking at going the PCP route, the monthly cost starts at €459.
The new car, an early arrival for the January sales that all marques are expecting to be a bit of a barnstormer, shares much with the new, and smaller, XE sport saloon.
And like its smaller sibling, the XF also competes in a tough segment where some of the giants of motoring provide stiff opposition.
XF rivals in what we call the 'mid-size executive' sector include the Audi A6, BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-Class and Lexus GS.
The fact that Jaguar is highlighting the €459-a-month PCP deal shows how important a role this form of car finance is now playing in winning buyers that use, rather than buy, a vehicle outright.
That is the case across so many segments of the market these days.
Incidentally, the entry-price of €43,205 is a bit below the old tag (€44,820) - even at this level of purchase, I'm sure €1,600 makes a difference in the pocket.
However, price comparisons of trim levels with competitors can be blurred somewhat as you move up the spec bands - entry-level buyers are few and far between these days. Most opt for mid-to-high spec and then it is a matter of how bits and pieces are packaged and priced. So you would do well to take some time to compare and contrast because it is usually far more cost-effective to buy a package than add just one or two bits of spec on their own.
The only check on that is that sometimes there's stuff you don't need or want bundled in with the bits you do.
The engines to look out for in the XF are the 163PS (104g/km, claimed 70mpg) and 180PS versions of the new 2-litre Ingenium diesel. If you want more power the 3-litre diesel V6 is no slouch - I have driven it abroad.
The petrol versions are not expected to be of much interest to buyers here but, for the record, they comprise a 240PS 2-litre automatic and a 3-litre auto which develops 340PS and 380PS depending on model.
There is a manual and an (excellent) 8spd automatic transmission. At this level, automatics tend to be favoured but some people still like the immediacy of gear change. The car looks larger in the flesh but is shorter. More importantly, it weighs as much as 190kgs less due to lighter engines, trimming here and there and the extensive use of aluminium in its architecture.
I think the front double wishbone suspension and integral-link rear axle provide a decent underpinning. The car has a nice sporty edge to its driving.
The 51mm increase in wheelbase adds some welcome room for passengers at the back - despite the car being 7mm shorter.
There are four trim levels: Business Edition, Prestige, R-Sport and Portfolio.
The Prestige trim level starts at €45,995 with the 163PS diesel under the bonnet, with the R-Sport starting at €47,240 and the Portfolio coming in at €49,280.
There is a three-year warranty and unlimited mileage servicing and roadside assistance package with the new saloon.