A fastback, sporting estate version of the XF is in Jaguar’s future product plan, with a production date slated for around 2012.

That will coincide with the facelift of the XF, when changes are expected to include a bolder grille inspired by the new XJ.

Estate versions of the XF’s main rivals, the Audi A6, BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class, all sell well and in the UK make the difference between the XF being the third best-seller in its class rather than market leader.

For several years after the launch of the load-lugging X-type, the words ‘estate’ and ‘Jaguar’ appeared to be banned from appearing in the same sentence, but now that the X-type has been killed off, the idea of a Jaguar estate is acceptable again inside the company.

But this won’t be some sort of Volvo-style load lugger. Expect elegant styling incorporating a shade more practicality to be the defining features.

The new four-cylinder diesel engine currently under development will be key. Small-capacity four-cylinder diesels account for 50 per cent of sales among rival executive models in the UK, and the proportion is even higher for the more practical estate body shape.

Details of the engine are scarce, but it is thought to be a variant of the 2.2-litre Ford/PSA unit used by Land Rover, but thoroughly re-engineered to reach the refinement levels that owners expect. Peak power is likely to be close to 200bhp in its most powerful version, possibly with twin turbochargers.

Twitter - follow autocar.co.ukSee all the latest Jaguar reviews, news and video