By Wayne Gorrett
✔ Excellent road manners, superb 8-speed ZF auto gearbox.
✖ Dated interior, STILL no petrol variant.
☀ ☀ ☀
The XF Sportbrake – Jaguar’s well-proportioned estate variant of its popular XF executive saloon, was first revealed to welcoming applause in March 2012, with sales commencing in October of that year.
All XF saloon and estate variants are built at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich state-of-the-art facility just outside Birmingham.
On the road, the Sportbrake is brilliant to drive, thanks to its excellent handling, supple motorway ride and the seamless and truly superb 8-speed ZF automatic ‘box sending all the 600Nm of available torque to the rear wheels. The burbling 3.0-litre V6 diesel is very strong and more suited to the car’s sporty character, too.
For executives with families, the five-door XF Sportbrake remains a more practical and versatile choice over the saloon, offering greater load lugging capacity. With thanks to the aforementioned torque available from the superb 3.0-litre diesel V6 engine, it has a towing capacity of 1,850kg which is ample for family-sized caravans and slightly under its own kerb weight of 1,890kg.
With row two seats up and load cover in place, the rear of the Sportbrake has a capacity of 550 litres. Retracting the load cover and lowering the seats reveals a whopping 1,675 litres of space, surpassing that of the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake. The load area is fitted with twin 197cm multi-function rails, to securely retain smaller items on the move.
The extended roofline increases rear headroom by nearly two inches and when you don’t need all of the available space, the rear bench is split 60:40 via a remote-controlled ‘one-touch’ folding function for those more awkward loads. As you might expect from latter-day Jaguar, it’s all very well thought out.
The 3.0-litre Sportbrake Portfolio is generously well-equipped with all executive essentials in place and is competitively priced against rivals.
• Power delivery from 3.0-litre V6 diesel is seamless and the 8-speed ZF auto is a gem.
• Practical and flexible ‘getaway’ space is perfect for busy executives with families.
But these disappointed:
• Still no petrol variant to offer a wider choice.
• Rear visibility is not great.
• The shiny leather furniture lacks premium look and feel for a car in this price range.
• The engines aren’t as clean or as fuel-efficient as those available in key rivals, such as the Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5-Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate.
Options fitted to the test car:
* Xenon headlamps with adaptive front lighting, cornering lamps and automatic levelling, £450 * Ski hatch, £260 * Blind spot monitor, £460 * JaguarVoice, £450 * Heated leather steering wheel, £240 * Front parking aid & rear camera, £500 * Adaptive cruise control, £1,275 * 19” alloy space saver spare, £150 * Detachable tow bar, £528.
• Price as tested: £55,818 (incl £4,313 of options).
• Top speed: Limited to 155 mph.
• Engine: 3.0-litre, V6 Turbo-diesel.
• Power: 271 bhp @ 4,000 rpm.
• Torque: 600 Nm @ 2,000 rpm.
• Gearbox: 8-speed ZF automatic, via flappy paddles, to rear-wheels.
• Performance: 0-62 mph in 6.1 sec.
• Economy (claimed combined): 46.3 mpg.
• Economy (driven): 32.7mpg over 394 miles.
• Fuel tank: 70 litres (claimed range: 708 miles vs 500 tested).
• CO2: 163 g/km
• VED Band G – £175 per annum.
• Insurance Group: 44.
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a finely balanced sporting estate. It looks the part and the Portfolio variant is exceptionally well equipped, but in some areas it lacks the requisite premium feel. Toys and options are nice but it has to FEEL right. Perhaps a trick was missed at the Portfolio’s release to introduce more premium internal upgrades to match the price tag of £51,500.
While it remains a very pleasant place to spend a considerable amount of time, both the interior design and several trim elements are showing their age – and a tad ungracefully in places.
That aside, the XF Sportbrake remains a great car to drive. The variance in running costs between the 3.0-litre V6 diesel and its 2.2-litre four-pot diesel sibling are less than one would expect. Because of the sheer enjoyment of the driving experience, sophisticated delivery of available grunt and range-wide pulling power, the six-pot diesel would be my choice.