Things have been well and truly hammered into context this week with the arrival of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class at the wheels HQ. The E 200 model, although not a direct competitor to our long-term XF 25t in terms of power, is a car that you would cross shop the Jaguar with. In terms of performance the XF outguns the Merc with its 240bhp output compared to the latter’s 184bhp. Even the bigger E 250 develops less power than the base XF. So on the spec-sheet front things look favourable for Coventry’s saloon.

Driving the two cars back to back also reveals that the XF is just a tad nicer on the move. It’s no BMW 3 Series, but it feels decidedly more lively and willing than the E. The balance of ride and handling is extremely well judged — the Merc simply does a stellar job in whooshing you around in maximum comfort. If you are interested in driving, the E 200 would likely begin feeling soulless after a while.

Then there is the important question of price. The XF four-cylinder range starts at Dh179,000 with the Pure variant, and tops out at Dh259,000 for the ultimate Portfolio version. The 3.0-litre V6 R-Sport and S variants cost Dh259,000 and Dh299,000, respectively.

Our test E-Class, the entry-level model in the range, starts at Dh193,309, but with loads of optional kit on board it weighs in at a hefty Dh273,782; Dh25K more than the most expensive XF. However, the moment you step into the Mercedes it is immediately evident that it’s a Dh300K car. The cabin makes the XF’s interior feel like an Easy Hotel lounge. That may sound harsh but in terms of refinement and tech the Merc has seriously moved the game along. It’s an acronym fest of technologies in there; pretty much any feature you can think of and the Merc has it. It’s doubtless the best in its class right now.

Overall, though, the XF is just that little bit better when it comes to driving dynamics. Driving the E-Class is like having a relaxing massage, as is the XF, albeit a slightly more vigorous one. More next week.

The progress

Week 4 It’s wheels art editor Joel Paz’s turn behind the wheel of the XF and the cosmetic nit-picking begins. The graphics on the infotainment system screen are criticised for being too low-tech. The cabin gets the tick for space.

Highs Roomy, comfortable cabin.

Lows Infotainment display, some turbo lag.

Week 3 wheels Arabic sub Kinan gets the key to the XF, which is predictably in dire need of a fill-up. The fuel level indicator refreshes only after an engine restart. The XF’s lightness and deft handling impress, but the positioning of the throttle and brake pedals raise eyebrows.

Highs Graceful on the move.

Lows Fuel level indicator.