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The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice

Our Verdict

Jaguar XF Sportbrake

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

  • First Drive

    Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6 2017 review

    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
Matt Prior
19 October 2017

What is it?

This is our second opportunity to drive Jaguar’s latest XF Sportbrake, the rather handsome estate variant of Jaguar’s current executive-class saloon.

Last time around, we drove it with the 237bhp 2.0-litre diesel powerplant, which is mated exclusively to all-wheel drive. Here, we’re adding the 3.0-litre V6 diesel to that and the only petrol XF variant, the 2.0-litre 247bhp four-cylinder from the same Ingenium engine family as the diesel, both as rear-drive variants.

By calling this car Sportbrake, you might think the design team have been cut a little slack to prioritise style over practicality, but the important estatey numbers are pretty good. Boot volume with the rear seats up is 565 litres rather than the saloon’s 540, and with the seats down it raises to 1700 litres, which puts it on a par with the BMW 5 Series Touring, if not the vast Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon. This time around, too, as well as flat sides to the interior of the boot, the rear seats have been tweaked to allow the floor to be flat when folded. The kind of thing that’s more useful, as a rule, than an additional five litres here or there.

Otherwise, things in the Sportbrake are as they are in the XF saloon. It’s a predominantly aluminium-structured car, with double-wishbones at the front and an integral link set-up at the rear. Unlike the saloon, the Sportbrake comes with air-springs at the rear to keep the body level under loads, which can be whichever fridge or dog you throw in the boot or up to 2000kg pulled via the towbar.

What's it like?

There are things Jaguar does really well and some things it doesn’t.

Let’s start with the latter. The XF has a pretty tidy interior that is stylishly designed but, depending on where you prod, you’ll find surfaces that just don’t feel quite so thudsome as in a German executive alternative. The Germans each make many millions of cars a year and you get the feeling that, with an A6, 5 Series or E-Class, they throw everything they’ve got at it. Jaguar will soon be doing around 200,000. You just get the vibe that Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz has more to give.

Then there’s the entertainment and information screens, from which you can draw a similar conclusion. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Jaguar’s touchscreen controller; it just feels a little slower, clumsier and less finessed than the best you’ll find elsewhere.

But then there are the bits that Jaguar does well, largely, I suspect, because it has terrible roads on its doorstep: bad surfaces, bad cambers, pronounced road crowns, tight corners around ancient hedgerows. There’s less of that in mainland Europe and it shows. The XF steers with terrific precision, it rides with impressive deftness and control. It blends refinement, poise and engagement better than any rival.

The 2.0 diesel powertrain we tested previously is endearing enough, but sufficiently grumbly that we’d recommend the 296bhp V6 over it if you can stand the extra bills. At 49.6mpg versus 48.7mpg, the official figures reckon the V6, rear-driven, will be less thirsty than the AWD 2.0 oil-burner. And given there’s less need for the eight-speed ZF auto to downshift in the V6, in the real world that difference might even be greater. (Although, if you need all-wheel drive, I guess you know it, and then the 2.0 diesel is your only option.)

Whether you choose the 2.0-litre petrol is, again, down to the bills. It's that bit lighter, smoother, quieter, more responsive and revvier than any of the diesels, but it’s a 41.5mpg car on the official fuel cycle. It's lighter in the nose, too, being that bit more agile than a car that’s already probably the most agile-feeling in the class.

Should I buy one?

This class is so competitive that every car in it really needs to give you a compelling reason to choose one.

The Jaguar’s case is clear. It’s arguably the best-looking one in the class and I’m pretty confident that it’s the most rewarding to drive. It’s not unlike, say, the Alfa Romeo Giulia in the class below in that respect. Know the XF’s limitations in other areas – and we’re talking degrees off the pace here, not miles – and the Jaguar makes a pretty convincing case for itself.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake 3.0 TDV6

Where Leiria, Portugal; On sale Now; Price £49,600; Engine 2993cc, V6, twin-turbocharged diesel; Power 296bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 374lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerbweight 1805kg; Top speed 150mph; 0-62mph 6.7sec; Fuel economy 49.6mpg; CO2 rating/BIK 149g/km, 31%; Rivals BMW 5 Series Touring, Audi A6 Avant

Join the debate

Comments
34

19 October 2017

if that gets 50mpg i'll eat my hat. Maybe at a 60mpg cruise i nthe left lane - otherwise i think somewhere in the high 30s might be more realistic. 

19 October 2017

And if you gonna do the mileage then in order of preference V6, then the 2.0 petrol, last (and least) the diesel 4 pot.  Be useful if the artice detailed the price differences though! 

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

19 October 2017
xxxx wrote:

And if you gonna do the mileage then in order of preference V6, then the 2.0 petrol, last (and least) the diesel 4 pot.  Be useful if the artice detailed the price differences though! 

 

In the USA the saloon 2.0 diesel with 180hp with 4 wheel drive is the cheapest option available at $48k plus options. The official figures are 31 town and 40 highway and reviews show that to be fairly accurate with overall economy being around 36 mpg, in US gallons of course which are only 3.77 litres not our 4.54 litres.

19 October 2017

"Best looking in the class" Seriously? I know there isn't much competition but that doesn't mean you should be impressed with a plain Jane Euro wagon.

19 October 2017

"Best looking in class" ?? Yeah if youre blind or you like bland characterless cars. How does JLR get a away with such a cheap looking dash ??

19 October 2017

Don't know how you could describe this as handsome. The saloon is a styling disaster in profile, mainly because of the ill-defined rear quarter window, but the transformation from saloon to estate does not resolve the profile problem. This time the 'solution' is a sloping window line from front to back, presumably to give the car a more sporty look, and yet this feeble gesture does not go well with the overall boxy shape. No amount of rounded off corners can hide the fundamental boxy shape. An Jaguar still hasn't revised the interior yet.

20 October 2017
abkq wrote:

Don't know how you could describe this as handsome. The saloon is a styling disaster in profile, mainly because of the ill-defined rear quarter window, but the transformation from saloon to estate does not resolve the profile problem. This time the 'solution' is a sloping window line from front to back, presumably to give the car a more sporty look, and yet this feeble gesture does not go well with the overall boxy shape. No amount of rounded off corners can hide the fundamental boxy shape. An Jaguar still hasn't revised the interior yet.

You're always quick to pop up like a jack-in-a-box with your criticisms, so I have to ask:are there any current cars you do like?

20 October 2017
beechie wrote:
abkq wrote:

You're always quick to pop up like a jack-in-a-box with your criticisms, so I have to ask:are there any current cars you do like?

 

Yes, from the point of view of purity of design, Golf 7 & Rolls Royce Ghost.

Recent Volvos can't be ignored either. I am also admirer of the Range Rover Velar, but that's a little too much of a lifestyle statement.

20 October 2017
abkq wrote:

beechie wrote:
abkq wrote:

You're always quick to pop up like a jack-in-a-box with your criticisms, so I have to ask:are there any current cars you do like?

 

Yes, from the point of view of purity of design, Golf 7 & Rolls Royce Ghost.

Recent Volvos can't be ignored either. I am also admirer of the Range Rover Velar, but that's a little too much of a lifestyle statement.

Might be an idea to find another interest - you'll only upset yourself if you continue with cars.

19 October 2017

"(Although, if you need all-wheel drive, I guess you know it, and then the 2.0 diesel is your only option.)"

Oh! That counts out all of the mainland European (as well as East coast/snowbelt US) drivers that rely upon Quattro, X-Drive and 4Matic. 

Shame, it was looking good until that sentance. 3.0 V6 with All Wheel Drive please! 

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