Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2018 will cost from £42,435
With car niches becoming ever narrower and the proliferation of crossovers in today’s market, it would be all too easy for car makers to give up on old-school estates altogether.
Then again, when you get one as gorgeously good-looking as this new Jaguar XF Sportbrake, maybe it isn’t easy at all.
Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum has produced a stunning design with this XF load-lugger, suggesting that maybe there’s life in the future of the estate car after all.
In fact, not so long ago, estate cars were mocked for being little more than boxes on wheels owned by a driver with a family or business who had largely given up on the idea of enjoying life behind the wheel ever again.
Now, Jaguar is producing this XF Sportbrake that’s arguably even better looking than the saloon and turns plenty of heads on the road.
Historically, the XF Sportbrake has turned plenty of heads in showrooms, too. Since it first went on sale in 2012, the Sportbrake had accounted for a quarter of all XF sales in the UK.
Now though, that’s dropped to 15 per cent, which is ironic as this is arguably a better-conceived car than its predecessor.
However, when almost two-thirds of all new Jaguars leaving showrooms so far this year have been either the F-Pace or smaller E-Pace, it underlines the insatiable demand for SUVs with family buyers.
While understandable, it’ll be a shame if that switch means that the likes of the XF Sportbrake cease to continue in the future.
After all, not only is this R Sport version sleek and good-looking, as already stated, but it’s practical and, with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine – boasting 240bhp in this particular guise – it’s hardly slow either.
The 0 to 60mph sprint comes up in just 6.4 seconds along with a 150mph top speed with 48.7mpg average fuel economy and 153g/km emissions.
This is the same engine as fitted to our E-Pace long-termer, although it certainly didn’t feel identical on the road.
It was noisier when starting from cold and we found the throttle response in the XF’s normal driving mode to be unusually lazy.
Switching it to dynamic mode helped it to react faster to inputs from the driver, but we would have expected a car wearing a Jaguar badge to feel closer to that in its standard mode.
The estate car is still a head turner
OK, fair enough, this is still an estate car, so few owners are likely to be driving the car like they’ve stolen it with much regularity, but when buying a Jaguar we think people are more likely to expect a more involving drive.
That said, the car’s handling is impressive with sharp and direct steering and little body roll even when cornering hard.
The ride quality is exceptional too, even in R-Sport trim with its sports suspension and larger alloy wheels, which is a testament to the hard work by Jaguar’s engineering team, developing cars especially on British roads.
Leg and headroom in the rear seats is very good and there are also seat heaters for added comfort.
It’s a little disappointing though to have just the one 12-volt socket without any USB sockets for extra charging needs.
Further back, the whole reason for buying this car after all, there’s also a long and wide boot with 565 litres of space with the rear seats up or 1,700 litres with them lowered.
Better yet, the boot’s a nice and uncluttered, boxy shape with small extra nets on the side and hooks for shopping or takeaways.
The interior of the new XF Sportbrake
Add to that floor rails with movable securing eyes and pull handles for lowering the seats and it’s clear that someone has thought about this area of the car in detail, something that’s sure to be appreciated.
There’s also a double retractable boot cover and dog guard, which is handy, but does mean you’ve got two things to store when the rear seats are lowered rather than just one.
Overall though, it’s hard not to come away with a huge amount of respect for the Jaguar XF Sportbrake.
This is a handsome family car that might be more traditional than the current crop of crossovers, but is better to drive and, we think, better to look at, too.
It’s also likely to be a whole lot more economical to run as well.
Add to that its decent driving manners, once switched into dynamic mode, and those smart features that make it so practical on a day to day basis, and we think it’s the kind of car that will just get better every day you drive it.
If all other future estate cars are this good, then hopefully the niche’s demise will be some way off yet.
This is a handsome family car that might be more traditional than the current crop of crossovers
Price: from £42,435
Engine: Turbo-diesel – 2.0-litre, 240bhp
Power: 0 to 60mph in 6.4 seconds, 150mph top speed
Fuel economy: 48.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 153g/km
Rivals: Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Volvo V60