The XF Sportbrake is just one millimetre longer than the second-gen XF saloon on which it’s based and has an overall height that would be almost identical to that of the saloon but for the fact that, here, you get roof bars as standard equipment.
It’s slightly shorter than the previous-generation Sportbrake but still offers improvements to both second-row passenger space relative to the old car (as a result of a longer wheelbase) and to boot space, the latter having grown to 565 litres under the load bay cover and 1700 litres up to the front seatbacks and roof. Even though the XF has been on the market longer than many of its rivals, those remain competitive outright carrying capacities for a large estate. You’ll have to choose an equivalent Mercedes-Benz E-Class or Skoda Superb to beat them by any decisive margin.
Like the XF saloon, the Sportbrake uses a predominantly aluminium construction, with suspension made up of double wishbones at the front axle and an ‘integral link’ multi-link set-up at the rear. Unlike the XF saloon, however, the wagon version gets double-valved dampers at the front axle and self-levelling air suspension at the rear, with spring, damper and anti-roll bar rates and suspension bushings all retuned for the specific grand touring brief for which the car is intended. Go for the XF in R-Sport trim, as was our test car, and you get lowered, stiffened, passively damped sports suspension as standard, or alternatively you can have that swapped out for adaptive damping at extra cost.
Jaguar’s engine line-up for the car opens with its 161bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder diesel and progresses upwards through another two versions of that engine offering more power and torque, with Jaguar’s 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged 296bhp V6 diesel still available at the richer end of the derivative spectrum.
The petrol choice is more limited: the 2.0-litre Ingenium turbo petrol comes in 247bhp and 296bhp forms, with no word yet on when JLR’s 3.0-litre straight-six mild-hybrid engine might be available. Overall, however, it makes for plenty of choice. Four-wheel drive is in effect optional with Jaguar’s 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine but is standard with the 237bhp diesel and 296bhp petrol.
Otherwise rear-wheel drive is what you’ll get, as well as an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard (except if you’re ordering an entry-level 161bhp diesel, which is the only Sportbrake in the range on which a manual gearbox is offered).