Only by the meticulous, class-leading dynamic standards that Jaguar sets itself could the Sportbrake be considered anything other than a total success. An E-Class wagon may have a smoother low-speed ride and a 5 Series Touring a smidge more grip and body control, but the XF strikes a very agreeable balance between the two and goes about its business as only a Jaguar can – with remarkable suppleness and bump absorption when the surface asks for it, but also composure, delicacy and plenty of driver engagement.
If you’re trading out of an XF saloon, you’ll notice the slightly softer motive character that Jaguar’s dynamicists have opted for here. This suspension tune makes the Sportbrake a marginally more comfortable car than the four-door and sacrifices very little in handling.
Hit a really choppy road at speed and this XF seems to pick itself up an inch or so on its springs and hover, allowing each wheel to rise and fall with the bumps and troughs in the road without disturbing the equilibrium of the body. And yet, all the while, the steering retains a consistent weight, and you still feel quite intimately and securely connected with the road surface. This is definitely a car configured for a fast A-road, not a fast autobahn. British drivers will welcome it and Jaguar should be applauded for it.
The only slight bugbear is that, at times, you’re aware that the Sportbrake isn’t as agile as the XF saloon. It has every bit as much steering feedback, but not quite as much front-end bite. Hustle the car around a fast bend and, rather than poised neutrality, you’ll eventually uncover gentle but unmistakable understeer. That softer air-sprung rear suspension is probably to blame.
For a grand tourer, trading a little directional agility for added ride comfort seems entirely reasonable. But it does take the edge off what you might have expected to be one of the XF wagon’s glittering USPs.