Jaguar XF 2.2D Portfolio
The Sportbrake might be the most important Jaguar XF launch of this year, but the tax-friendly 2.2-litre diesel was definitely last year's highlight.

Capable of 50mpg, can this super frugal version of Jaguar's 5-Series and A6 rival be a proper car from the big cat? We spent a week with a £43,050 Portfolio version to find out.

Alongside the new diesel engine, the XF underwent its first facelift since the launch in 2007. We believe that the XF is one of just a few cars that actually looks better than the original.

Mostly centered around a new bonnet, bumper, grille and headlights, the front of the XF looks more aggressive like the C-XF concept on which this Jaguar was originally based.

Changes are less obvious at the side, but the XF's curvy almost coupe-like roof line remains. At the back, there are revised LED rear light clusters.

Jaguar XF 2.2D Portfolio
This new version of the XF, is powered by the same 188bhp 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel that's also currently fitted in another of Jaguar Land Rover's models, the Freelander and the Range Rover Evoque.

Mated to an eight-speed auto box and developed by transmission specialist ZF, this engine has standard green features such as a Start & Stop system. These equal emissions of just 149g/km and a 52.3mpg fuel consumption figure. So, this Jaguar will surely prove popular to company car buyers.

The XF's thick rear roof pillars mean rear visibility is poor, but we found the optional rear parking camera (£500) useful for tight spaces. The car's light electric power steering is well-weighted and feels sporty.

Satisfying to drive, the XF is a keen handler with sharp steering, plenty of grip and body roll is kept well in check. The ride is comfortable and refined too, even on the standard 19-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, face-lift changes are limited to a revised multi-function steering wheel and buttons on the centre console. In our opinion it didn't need updating as it is both classy and modern.

There's still a real sense of occasion on start up, when the air vents rotate automatically and the gear rotator rises from the centre console. Quality levels seem high too, we particularly liked the leather-trimmed dashboard with contrasting stitching on the test car.

Despite the 2.2-litre engine being a bit noisy, Jaguar has done a fine job isolating the racket from the interior. With careful sound-deadening and new engine mounts, you can hardly hear the four-cylinder diesel rumble at idle or at speed.

The eight-speed manual transmission is light enough but feels like it is working hard to keep up with the engine. Just because it's the most economical Jaguar ever, don't think it hasn't got the performance you'd expect from the leaper badge. Top speed is 140mph and this XF completes the dash to 60mph in just 8.0 seconds.

The XF's doors open wide, the driving position is comfortable and the standard seats are supportive enough. There's enough space for two adult passengers, plus the 500-litre boot is a practical size.

In range-topping Portfolio trim, the XF has all the kit you'll ever need with air-conditioning, the amazing 1200w Bowers & Wilkins stereo, remote central locking, electric windows, a DAB digital radio and alloy wheels as standard.

Jaguar XF 2.2D Portfolio
Our test car was fitted with Jaguar's excellent touch-screen sat-nav system, that includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity for iPods. We found the maps sometimes difficult to read, but were impressed at how easily we could pair phones with the Bluetooth system.

So to sum up, the XF 2.2 D could be the most desirable model in the range. Handsomely facelifted, it has excellent fuel consumption figures and CO2 emissions that are sure to appeal to a wider selection of business and private buyers. Yet on top of this, it is still great to drive and handles well.