To many, the thought of Jaguar Cars producing an estate would once be enough to ruffle a few pages of the Telegraph down at the drinking club, they came close a few years back with the XJ-S Shooting brake but Leyland’s coffers couldn’t quite cough up thus leaving a handful of specialist companies to tweak the tin. But a diesel Jaguar? and an estate? well dear readers we are now well and truly in the 21st Century and due to the amazing work our boys in the Midlands thanks to a tidal wave of cash investment from their incumbent Tata, anything seems possible at Jaguar. The XF is a great looking creation in saloon format and it seems the Sportbrake has lost none of its jaw dropping style as a load lugger.
Autobritannia got to grips with the 2.2 i4 diesel powered Sportbrake in the Portfolio trim level and when studied at every angle looks every inch a premium car. Stacked against the BMW 5 series Tourer the XF simply roundly trounces the 5 just on styling alone – the seemingly Fjord deep dark blue paint doing a superb job of highlighting the brightwork and chrome. The 19 inch ‘Carvella’ alloys shod with ground hugging low profile tyres fill the flared arches beautifully and offer you a subconscious reminder that this car won’t disapoint. Purely on looks and status alone its a difficult car not to adore, but for an estate car to have a vision like this is quite amazing.
…its a difficult car not to adore… for an estate to have a vision like this is quite amazing.
Entering the drivers seat introduces a world that is both modern and reassuringly British, the grain of the leather and the pile of the carpet give that smell that can only be upper class British. Where the XJ offers you a display of LCD computer animated dials, the XF retains a familiar range of circular dials in the traditional manner and finding the optimum position at the sharp end of the car even for a portly chap such as I came easily. The seat has a memory electric adjustment system and the steering wheel features a clever tilt away function making for a more graceful entry and exit. Once the engine is fired up, the steering wheel re-positions itself to the last setting and you’re ready for the off.
The interior refinement at idle is quite impressive and as you position the chromed tumbler gear selector into drive and send a message down to the engine room, virtually no sense of transmission actuation is felt. Its the same on the move as the car slides through the ratios with little sensation and the engine never so much as intrudes the ambiance – think of it as a loyal and trusted Butler, you know its there but performing its duty with no fuss. Driving at moderate speed finds you admiring the well balanced ride, for me, its finely tuned towards the sporting without feeling over-firm or intrusively noisy over badly levelled roads – I found it just right.
The brakes are nice and well weighted and the size of the discs will never cause any concern, they are well specified for the job and never even so much as faded whatsoever during some repeated hard applications during fast back road cornering. Making progress on empty roads and dual carriageways you would really struggle to complain about its manners. The slightly firm ride around town becomes compliant and well damped even coping with those often unsettling mid apex bumps. The handling needs only one word in summary – fantastic, what a brilliant job the chassis boys have done turning the base platform S type into a real drivers car… it really is that brilliant. The steering feel and action is amongst the very best we have experienced.
making progress on empty roads you would really struggle to complain about its manners… the handling needs only one word in summary – fantastic!
Of course, a Jaguar is all about refinement and in this area it seems pretty good. Cling onto every gear and unleash the 200PS engine and some upper rev noise makes its presence known but in most cases the drive is smooth and serene. Motorway driving is sheer bliss with virtually no noise coming from the big door mirrors or the doors themselves. The only spoiling feature we could find was the audio controls require a little getting used to which can be alarming when on the move though once used to shouldn’t present a problem in the real world. The overall driving position is pretty good but the dark coloured interior makes the car feel slightly gloomy in fading light.
The sloping roofline also makes for a limited view from the interior mirror or when looking rear-wards over the left shoulder, we found ourselves being slightly to reliant on the quite brilliant parking sensor and camera display. Arriving back at base again the tailgate is raised and a flat level floor is revealed along with the expected split rear folding seat. Jaguar claim over 1600 litres of boot space is available but again, the sloping roofline may be a concern for boxy objects. The rear air suspension retains the cars stance and posture under load thanks to its self levelling facility and Jaguars Dynamic Stability Control with active differential is standard equipment.
The portfolio package also includes dual zone climate control, an impressive Meridian audio system with media interface, Intelligent stop / start system, sequential shift 8 speed automatic gearbox with paddle facility and powered tailgate open with soft close amongst the standard trim. There is very little against the XF Sportbrake, we found some interior trim below class standards – especially the faux suede roof lining and the rear seat is best for two owing to the transmission tunnel being rather bulky. But for sheer driving pleasure – its almost impossible to fault and without piling on the options is very competitive on cost too – A very impressive car in nearly every area, it looks great drives great, stands toe to toe with our German cousins and above all – its British!
Our Score? – 9/10
Good performance – Jaw dropping good looks – Amazing ride / handling compromise – Cruising refinement – Price – Equipment – Techno & Trad interior – Practical – Takes the fight to the Germans.
Limited space and comfort in rear seat – Loadbay restricted by roofline shape – Some interior trim quality a bit varied for a premium car – Poor rear view from driving seat – Engine noise noticable when pushed to the extreme.
Engine: 2.2 Jaguar i4 diesel 200Ps & 450Nm of torque @ 3500 or 2000rpm
Driveline: 8 Speed sequential autobox with sport / winter mode and paddle selectors and active differential – rear wheel drive.
Brakes / Suspension: All round ABS discs – electric park brake – Front coil rear air suspension system with dynamic stability control.
Fuel consumption & Co2: 55.4mpg combined – 139g/km (VED band E)
Insurance: Group 40
Cost: £44,690 OTR excluding options
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This car sums up everything the Jaguar brand is doing right. It’s a car that can beat the 5-series, E-class and A6 at their own game while still being an unique proposition. I’m seeing many, many more XFs about than I ever saw S-types.