Jaguar's new XF has its sights trained on the established German executive sedans
Cat on the prowl The Jaguar XF is more advanced, efficient and, technically, handles better than its predecessor.PHOTO: JAGUAR LAND ROVER

The new Jaguar XF has big shoes to fill. Not only is the outgoing model the best-selling and most decorated Jaguar of recent times, but its newly launched baby brother, the XE, has also been hogging headlines with its class-leading abilities.

Sharing the same aluminiumintensive architecture as the XE, the new XF weighs some 190kg less than its predecessor, meaning it is more advanced, efficient and, technically, offers better handling.

It also shares the same sporty F-Type-derived suspension layout as the XE. It is essentially a case of "Honey, I expanded the XE", so comparisons will be inevitable.

If anything, the XF looks even better. The distinctive Jaguar front grille is even bolder and more upright and the vents larger and more aggressive. Add the slitty, more swept-back headlights and you have a front end so pretty it almost makes up for the nondescript rear.

Having already driven the new XE, I had high hopes for the XF. With the same chassis and running gear, it should, on paper at least, offer the same level of engagement as its smaller sibling.

Well, it is close. While the XE stood out for its responsiveness and agility, the XF's strongest traits are its comfort and refinement. The feel and helm of its new electric steering are also superb, even though the rack seems slightly slower.

And while there is a tad more body roll from the extra weight, the ride offered by the car's adaptive dampers is sublime at any speed.

All in all, the car feels like a more grown-up version of the XE.

Three engine variants will be available at the launch - a 2-litre 178bhp Ingenium diesel, a range-topping 3-litre 375bhp supercharged V6 petrol, and a newly developed 3-litre turbodiesel V6 producing 296bhp and, more importantly, 700Nm of torque from just 2,000rpm.

The last engine is the pick of the lot. The ample torque allows the turbodiesel V6 to power out of corners, stringing them together effortlessly like a heat-seeking cruise missile.

And seeing how the test route included a ridiculously steep mountain road used for this year's Tour de France, what the car can do is no mean feat.

Best of all, because of its low-end punch, you do not need to call upon its paddle shifters or Sports mode. Its eight-speed automatic transmission behaves best when the car is left in its default drive mode.

Inside, Jaguar's rather dated cabin has been entirely modernised and features Jaguar's new InControl Touch infotainment system.

Although the car appears to have been stretched, thanks to shorter front and rear overhangs, the XF is actually 7mm shorter and 3mm lower than the car it replaces. But its wheelbase is 51mm longer, resulting in more legroom for rear occupants.

Those who are chauffeured will not be disappointed. Even with a sunroof (an option) installed, there is more than enough headroom to comfortably accommodate people who are 1.8m tall.

Indeed, the XF is now a more serious rival to established executive cars such as the BMW 5-series, Mercedes-Benz E-class and Audi A6. It remains to be seen if sales numbers will reflect its new capabilities.

Singapore will be getting the 2-litre Ingenium diesel and a 2-litre petrol with 237bhp and 340Nm. Both V6s are available on indent.