The Sportbrake is entirely new from the B-pillars back and is said to be just as torsionally stiff as the XF saloon, despite the tailgate opening. Jaguar’s distinctive and sometimes controversial black C-pillar detail has been carried over from the Jaguar XJ saloon. A new roof design and modified rear door frames and windows release an extra 48mm of headroom for rear-seat passengers. The rear seats are a new design, featuring a 60/40 split and an integral ski hatch. Levers in the load bay allow the seat backs to be dropped while accessing the luggage area through the tailgate opening.
With the seats up, boot volume is a roomy 550 litres, although its main rivals all possess more load space. The Audi A6 Avant and 5-series Touring each offer 560 litres and the Mercedes E-class estate has a 696-litre hold. With the seats down, the Sportbrake boasts 1675 litres of load space. That’s slightly bigger than both the A6 and the 5-series, which both have a 1670-litre capacity. However, the E-class still tops the class for all-out load-carrying ability, with 1765 litres.
Seats down, the XF Sportbrake also scores with a 1.97m long and 1.06m wide load bay — sufficient for bags of golf clubs to be stored sideways, Jaguar claims.
The central section of the boot floor is hinged into three sections and can be used as a divider to stop smaller items of luggage from rolling around. There’s also storage space under the floor and two full-length aluminium floor rails to which nets and retaining bars can be attached. Jaguar says the load area is trimmed in the same high-specification carpet as the front of the cabin. If the detachable towbar is specified, there is a dedicated space under the boot floor in which to store it.
The tailgate is made partly from SMC (sheet moulded composite) to save weight and it has a soft-close action. It can also be specified with power-operated opening and closing. Self-levelling rear air suspension is standard on all versions of the Sportbrake, replacing the standard-issue coil springs of the saloon. This, says Jaguar, ensures that the car’s handling characteristics remain unchanged even when the car is laden. Using the towbar activates Jaguar’s Trailer Sway Mitigation system, which uses the anti-lock braking and stability control systems to “reduce the risk” of a trailer snaking.
Adrian Hallmark, global brand director said: "It opens up the XF to a whole new market. It's for families who want dynamics and luxury, as well as practicality."
Ian Callum, design director said: ""It's the most versatile Jaguar ever, but it's still very much a Jaguar. It's a segment we've never been in before.
"Designing an estate car gives you more possibilities. We've extended the roofline, and given a dramatic side window graphic. There's 48mm more headroom for rear passengers and up to 1675 litres boot capacity with 60/40 rear seats folded. The load space is also trimmed with the same premium materials as the front."
When the Sportbrake is launched, there will be a choice of four diesel engines: the 2.2-litre, four-cylinder unit in 161bhp and 187bhp guises, and the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 in two states of tune: 237bhp and 271bhp.
Two exterior design packages will also be available. The Aero pack (which is standard on the S model) adds a deeper front bumper, side sills and rear valance. The Black pack replaces the exterior brightwork with gloss black trim and dark-coloured wheels.
Jaguar won’t hint at the likely showroom price for the Sportbrake, but an entry-level 2.2-litre diesel model should come in at about £32,500 and a range-topping 3.0D S about £44,300.