By Ian Strachan
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a great example of how to turn a sporty saloon into a practical estate car without losing any of its good looks or affecting its impressive performance.
Jaguar’s design team have done a fine job on the Sportbrake. It looks as if it was designed to be an estate from a blank sheet of paper, with its gently sloping roofline and attractive back end.
Despite being a very roomy estate, the Sportbrake looks every inch a Jaguar, with sleek lines and the classy design cues of its saloon stablemate. More importantly it drives like a Jaguar. The all-wheel-drive version I tested was solid, responsive and sure-footed.
I test drove the excellent 2.0 litre turbo-charged diesel-powered XF Sportbrake in R-Sport specification, which delivers smooth, fast acceleration and great high-speed cruising without being too thirsty.
The 240 horsepower 2.0 litre unit is an excellent piece of engineering. It’s quiet, refined and responsive, with a 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds and impressive kick-down when needed.
Married to a silky-smooth eight-speed electronic automatic gearbox this unit will give you 41.5 miles to the gallon in mixed driving. By modern standards that’s hardly frugal, but there’s a penalty for its performance, size and four-wheel-drive..
Jaguar’s designers have done a great job with the shark-like profile of the XF Sportbrake which underlines its powerful performance. The mesh grille, lights and front end benefit from striking styling, while the back end of the Sportbrake is large and muscular, with 1,675 litres of flat load space with the back seats folded down. Thumping 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels completed the look of my test car (an extra at £1,225).
Ride and handling is as smooth as you’d expect from a Jaguar, and the XF benefits from excellent front suspension which absorbs bumps well and improves overall handling and dynamics. At no point do you feel you’re driving an estate.
The interior of the XF is the ultimate in subtle style. Classy without being showy. Get into the car using Jaguar’s keyless entry and the start button glows red in the centre console. Press it and the gear selector rises into the palm of your hand and the powered vents swivel into position. All very nicely done.
You get a smart aluminium instrument panel finish, large and comfortable perforated leather seats with contrasting stitching, and a large centre console with polished finish and lots of storage space. The glovebox opens at the wipe of an electronic button. Instruments are classically styled and easy to read. A touch screen satellite navigation unit is standard on this specification.
Specification levels are high and include intelligent stop/start, variable drive control for road conditions, gearshift paddles, rain-sensing wipers, light-sensing automatic Xenon headlights, heated electric front seats, dual-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, DAB radio with Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity, powered tailgate, roof rails and roof spoiler, and R-Sport body kit and gloss black trim anf front and rear parking aids., .
My test car came with some nice extras including auto-dimming, heated powered door mirrors (£370), electric tow bar (£990), a huge panoramic roof (£1,125), heated front screen, washers, rear seats and steering wheel (£760), a park-assist pack including rear camera ((£1,150) an up-rated media, sound and navigation system ((£1,050) and 10-way adjustable front seats (£300).
The XF isn’t cheap – you wouldn’t expect it to be. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Sport 2.0 comes at £43,810 on the road without the extras.
This is superb car in every way, and Jaguar’s owner Tata is to be congratulated for giving the firm the resources to develop it to its potential.