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Wagon version of Jaguar XF is intended to be just as good as the saloon. In many ways, though, it’s better

What is it?

The last time Jaguar revealed an estate version of the XF, four years had elapsed since the launch of the saloonFlu pandemics come and go at a quicker rate.

This time round, with Gaydon’s impressive, investment-heavy playbook now on a metronomic footing, it’s two years on the nose. That’s progress. The model is a recognisable descendant of the first generation: still frumpily dubbed Sportbrake because, Jaguar being Jaguar, the car is ostensibly meant to prioritise appearance over practicality.

Really, of course, the maker wants it both ways and, thanks to the efforts of the styling department, that’s precisely what it gets. In the flesh, the wagon is a corker. There’s no special recipe here not already deployed on any number of rivals (the low, raked roofline; the high, chaste shoulder; the wrap-around lines; the tapered bottom), but it all colludes magnificently. And because it better conceals the saloon’s curiously long rear deck, it immediately stakes a credible claim as Jaguar’s best-looking non-sports car.

Gaydon doubtless sniffed the lifestyle potential of all this when the Sportbrake was still made of clay; hence those F-Type-cloned rear lights and the chrome exhausts. To their credit, the engineers accommodated all this curviness while still hollowing out a proper rectangular crypt of a boot.

True, there’s barely any more room in there than aboard the saloon – but its sides are so clean that you’ll convince yourself otherwise. And with the seatbacks folded impressively flat (another admirable internal target), the XF apparently boasts one of the longest loadspaces in its class. 

What's it like?

Inevitably, this all comes at a cost. To you, the buying public, it’ll be a premium of around £2500 over and above the equivalent saloon. To the car itself, it’s weight. As well as requiring some more bodywork and the extra bracing that goes with it, Jaguar has fitted self-levelling air suspension to the Sportbrake’s shapely rear – meaning that, all told, your extra money pays for around 115kg of surplus bulk.

This slightly unwieldy fact does the latest 237bhp 2.0-litre diesel Ingenium unit no favours at all. Jaguar claims 6.4sec for the AWD version’s 0-60mph time; it feels at least a second slower than that in the real world and hasn’t shaken the slight sense of ponderousness identified during the Range Rover Velar’s road test either.

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Combine the Sportbrake’s less-than-spirited overtaking performance with middling refinement under load and the niggle starts to swell ominously. Good job, then, that virtually everything else the car does works like a cold compress on the engine bay’s shortcomings.

The chassis’s benchmark was the saloon’s class-leading dynamic flair and, given the unsettling aspect of air springs and additional ballast, its mimicking of the XF’s trademark handling compromise is highly commendable. Measured against its passively sprung, rear-drive sibling, a modicum of direction-change athleticism has unarguably evaporated, but the wagon feels so assertively poised that it’s barely missed.

Much like the saloon, it’s the extraordinary parity given to sure-footed, super-snug, express-grade progress on the one hand, and free-flowing, B-road-scything responsiveness on the other, that generates a small mountain of driver goodwill.

Marginally softer, stockier and deliberate the estate might be (especially coupled with four-wheel drive), it is the all-court roundedness of the experience that once again ends up being the takeaway sentiment. That it arrives in a package with considerably more rear head room, a bigger, more usable boot, a more desirable design and the uncannily likeable ability to stow a large wardrobe is invariably to the model’s advantage.

Should I buy one?

Switch out the Ingenium unit for the more forceful oil-burning V6 and, unless you work in Munich, Ingolstadt or Stuttgart, the timely return of the Sportbrake is another Gaydon milestone worth cheering

Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Sport 25d

Location UK; On sale Now; Price £44,600; Engine Four-cylinder, 1999cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 237bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox Eight-speed automatic; Kerb weight 1805kg; Top speed 150mph; 0-62mph 6.7sec; Economy 48.7mpg; CO2/BIK tax band 144g/km, 30% Rivals BMW 5 Series Touring; Audi A6 Avant 

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eekamouse1025 5 September 2017

And we moan about China copying car designs...

I give you the 2011 Holden Commodore Wagon...even in red so you can't miss it

Image result for holden commodore station wagon

Merlot 5 September 2017

Petrol

Like the car but would like a 300PS petrol AWD. They have all the bits but for some reason will not put them together.

typos1 4 September 2017

My opinions on Callum styled

My opinions on Callum styled Jags are well known - as usual this is bland, characterless and anonymous, it looks like something from a Chinese start up, not a 100 year old British manufacturer. Awful.