Fire up the Jaguar XF and the driver is treated to a few little surprises – and they seem to be for your eyes only.

By the time any passenger gets on board those little theatrical touches for the driver have quietly tucked themselves away.

First there is the starter button that pulses with a red heart-like beat. Touch that and the cylindrical gearshift rises silently out of the centre console while a pair of aluminium covers on the outermost dashboard air vents rotate gently upwards.

All lovely little touches and the XF simply abounds in them. From the illuminated metal treadplates with glowing blue Jaguar script to the soft-close doors, it all makes for a very welcoming place.

But no number of niceties will cover up for a car that can’t cut it. Thankfully the XF can.

This is a luxurious coupé-styled, four-door sports saloon that expertly blends precision handling with a supremely comfortable ride. With the test car in R-Sport specification riding on a £2,095 set of whopping 20-inch alloy wheels that in itself is no small achievement.

This is a car that demands to be driven and makes you feel guilty if it is left parked on the drive. One winter Sunday afternoon we jumped in and spent several happy hours effortlessly winding round the back roads of the Cotswolds for no other reason than it was good to get out in the winter sunshine.

Power on the all-wheel-drive test car came from a 250 horsepower, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine, linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This combines barnstorming, autobahn-friendly top end power and huge pulling power with decent fuel economy.

For people who like to fiddle with the car’s settings. Jaguar has fitted electronic systems that give the driver the choice of normal or dynamic modes for the steering, engine and gearbox, not to mention throttle mapping, transmission shift and steering feel.

As well as being technically advanced, the XF is also an extremely safe place to be. Jaguar XF’s five-star Euro NCAP safety rating has been bolstered with a trio of new features in the form of blind spot assist, forward traffic detection and forward vehicle guidance.

Forward traffic detection is designed to assist when forward visibility is restricted and is fitted as part of the surround camera system. Forward vehicle guidance is fitted as part of the surround camera system and helps drivers to place the vehicle when completing low-speed manoeuvres using lines on the central touchscreen camera feed showing the direction of the front wheels.

Blind spot assist detects vehicles in or approaching the blind spot when changing lanes and applies a gentle steering force to keep the car in its lane and prevent a collision.

The XF R-Sport starts from just under £42,000 on the road and offers a host of additional technology including full-LED headlights, a laser head-up display which delivers high-contrast colour images, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with queue-assist, lane keep-assist, adaptive speed limiter and semi-automated parking.

All this naturally comes at a cost and the test car was fitted with no less than £17,355 of optional extra equipment.

Included in that was the £665 powered ‘gesture boot lid’ that allows you to open and close the boot lid even with your hands full, simply by waving your foot under the rear bumper. It’s another unseen detail, but a lovely touch.

Auto facts

Model: Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.0T AWD

Price: £59,190 as tested

Insurance group: 32 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 40.9mpg

Top speed: 147mph

Length: 495.4cm/195in

Width: 188cm/74in

Luggage capacity: 19 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 16.2 gallons/74 litres

CO2 emissions: 159 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 100,000 miles