Jaguar may not enjoy the long heritage of estate cars common to its premium rivals, but at least its chief designer, Ian Callum, can claim to have been there from the very beginning. The X-type Sportwagon – Jaguar’s original load lugger – was one of the first production Jags to benefit from Callum’s masterly pen strokes. The XF, with all its curvaceous muscularity, bears its elongated roof at least as well.

To support the larger ceiling, the Sportbrake is new from the B-pillars back. Nevertheless, a butch wrap-around shoulder and tapered roofline keep the XF’s tightly tailored body appropriately trim. The boundary of the saloon’s wheelbase is not spilled – the estate shares the same platform – but with the additional metal comes a pinch more presence.

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Bonnet 'power bulge' features on even the entry level version

That, along with the obvious practical benefit, is in the plus column. In the minus is the unavoidable weight penalty. On our scales, the Sportbrake lurched over the two-tonne barricade, proving a hefty supplement to the saloon’s 1800kg. To counteract its own poundage – and the extra weight of buyers’ hauling expectations – Jaguar has opted to replace the saloon’s standard coil springs with self-levelling air suspension at the back. It claims that this enhancement, along with comparable torsional stiffness, has permitted it to match the conventional XF’s acclaimed spread of dynamism and rolling refinement.

Certainly, the power delivery will be familiar to the initiated. All of the four-cylinder and V6 diesel engines migrate from its sibling, mated to the same fluid eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The smaller unit, in its 161bhp guise with 55.4mpg potential and lower (135g/km) CO2 emissions, is the most popular option with customers, although, as we'll see, all units have their merit.

There are six Jaguar XF Sportbrake trim levels: SE, SE Business, Luxury, Portfolio, Premium Luxury, Sport and S. However, not all are sold in conjunction with every drivetrain option, so buyers may not have the choice they expect. Entry-level kit includes stop-start, alloys, dual-zone climate control, electric seat adjustment, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth connectivity and a rear-parking aid. 

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    24 April 2015
    Space and practicality has never been an issue for the Seat Leon ST, and thanks to a Cupra 280 engine it's now fast, too - but does it gel as a package?
  • First Drive
    24 April 2015
    Ariel's third model is the best yet - in fact, it's one of the best driving experiences we've ever had
  • Car review
    23 April 2015
    Mazda's Skyactiv tech revolution transforms its cheapest model
  • The new Espace is a seven seater and described by the company as a 'crossover'.
    First Drive
    23 April 2015
    Renault replaces its classic flagship MPV with a new take on the seven-seat utility vehicle, but it's not for sale in the UK
  • First Drive
    23 April 2015
    You won't find another premium, all-wheel-drive, seven-seat compact MPV like BMW's xDrive 2 Series Gran Tourer, but is there a reason for that?