Jaguar XF Sportbrake revealed – a big cat with space for the dog

Ed Wiseman
The long-awaited Jaguar XF Sportbrake is an antidote to the SUV craze – but can this estate tempt buyers away from premium 4x4s?

In a refreshing departure from the crossovers and SUV trend, Jaguar has unveiled this handsome model – the XF Sportbrake, a luxurious premium estate.

It’s based on Jag’s XF saloon, which we think is terrific. The Sportbrake promises to build on the generous space and excellent dynamics of its four-door stablemate, but with a much bigger boot and commensurate versatility for family buyers.

That extended load space – 565 litres, expanding to a van-like 1,700 litres with the seats folded – is pretty impressive, and compares favourably with both the Audi A6 Avant and the BMW 5-series Touring, both key rivals in the premium estate segment.

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake – in pictures

We don’t expect the boot space to be the XF Sportbrake’s key selling point, though. The regular XF is one of our favourite premium saloons to drive, and we anticipate similarly compelling handling from the estate.

It comes with a range of ‘Ingenium’ engines, from a 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel to a monstrous 3.0-litre V6 churning out 296bhp. Only one of the five engines on offer is a petrol, and that’s the 247bhp 2.0-litre straight-four.

While prices start just shy of £35,000 for the entry-level model, we’re intrigued by the exciting range of options – most of them on the interior – available on the more expensive cars. By competing against the BMW 5-series, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-class and, to an extent, the Volvo V90, Jaguar knows it needs to offer some compelling luxury touches.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake sunroof

Our favourite is that enormous panoramic sunroof. It’s been visible in a lot of the images we’ve seen so far, and it’s clearly a feature Jaguar is proud of. Not only does it give the cabin a light and airy feel, it’s also compatible with Jag’s newfound obsession with gesture controls – the front-seat occupants of the XF will be able to simply wave at a sensor behind the rear-view mirror to close the sun blind, rather than relying on old-fashioned buttons.

The same technology is applied much more usefully on the tailgate, which can automatically open itself when you wave your foot at it in the correct way. Jaguar also offers what it calls an Activity Key, a wearable strap that owners can take with them instead of a key. Waterproof and apparently devoid of batteries, this bracelet performs the role of a key without being quite as cumbersome as a conventional metal one.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake

The XF Sportbrake is also available with cabin air ionisation, a system that purports to cleanse the car’s interior space of nasty particles. As hay fever has been particularly bad this year, we’ll be interested to see how convincingly the new Jag’s air supply contends with pollen.

All Sportbrakes come equipped with the Touch infotainment system, which incorporates an 8-inch touchscreen display that provides an interface with some of the car’s main functions. An upgrade to this is the Touch Pro, which is a (brace yourself) 10-inch touchscreen, complete with dual-view technology that allows the driver and front passenger to view two separate things on the same screen. We haven’t been particularly impressed with Jaguar Land Rover infotainment systems in the past, so we hope that improvements have been made for the XF Sportbrake.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake

A system called Protect will automatically alert the emergency services if the car is involved in a collision severe enough to trigger the airbags, and a tracker is installed to assist the police in finding your Sportbrake if it ever gets stolen.

In a more conventionally practical sense, the XF Sportbrake impresses. The load lugging credentials extend beyond that impressive boot space – the Sportbrake can tow two tonnes, and even its roof can accommodate an extra 100kg of luggage. Every model gets a tow assist feature, which prevents trailers from wobbling out of control at speed.

Even if you do manage to meet these impressive figures, the self-levelling rear suspension is meant to “ensure an effortless ride”. We’re looking forward to putting this to the test by filling the XF’s 1,700-litre load capacity, putting 100kg of clobber on the roof, then coupling a 2,000kg horsebox – we’ll report back with our findings.

greatest jaguar saloons

This latest Jaguar estate might be bucking the SUV trend, but it still competes in an crowded marketplace. Britain’s love-affair with tall, upright cars isn’t shared with the rest of Europe, so there’s a healthy supply of premium estates on offer, most of them German. Key rivals for the XF Sportbrake include the lovely Mercedes-Benz E-class estate, which is one of our favourite cars of the past year or so, as well as the popular Audi A6 Avant and handsome new BMW 5-series Touring.

We’d also be keen to point out the Volvo V90, the direct descendant of the Swedish bricks of old, as well as the endlessly reccommendable Skoda Superb, which is one of the best-value cars on the market. It’s also worth remembering the humble Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, the boot of which is only 25 litres smaller than that of the Jag, but which costs from just £16,000.

More from Telegraph Cars
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Mercedes E-class estate in pictures
BMW 5-series Touring – in pictures

 

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