What is it?
There's a view that that estate cars are a bit beside the point these days. The world has turned to SUVs, goes the story, and from them to crossovers.
Don’t believe it. In many cases, family-sized saloons are outsold by their estate offshoots, and even the Sportbrake tested here accounts for one-third of all of the Jaguar XF’s (admittedly modest) sales across Europe.
There’s a particular kind of buyer that responds to the logic of an estate: a more practical derivative that weighs only a smidge more than its sibling (75kg in this case), has no extra frontal area and at times can even be more aerodynamic, thanks to the simplicity of its extended rear shape. More load for no more fuel.
In this case, the load capacity is a generous 565 litres, expanding to 1700 litres when the rear seats are folded down. There’s a wide, flat floor that gives away surprisingly little except roof height to an SUV, while maintaining the low centre of gravity that will almost always make it by nature a better handler and a more economical option than an SUV.
In fact, that combination of practicality, performance and good driving characteristics seems to be very much the point of our test car, which is powered by Jaguar Land Rover's middle- ranking Ingenium 2.0-litre four- cylinder turbo petrol engine, making 247bhp and driving via a regular eight-speed automatic gearbox.
In R-Dynamic SE guise, the XF Sportbrake gets all manner of sporty decor, rides on 19in black alloys and has a selector that juggles engine and transmission parameters to provide a Sport and Economy regime either side of Comfort. Sure, this is a car ideally configured for toting the family and gear on holiday, but it can deliver driving enjoyment, too.