What is it?
This is only Jaguar’s second-ever estate in nine decades of trading. The first one was the X-Type estate, a guilty pleasure here at TopGear. The new XF Sportbrake is likely to win far more approval than that car, not least through pretty styling that enhances rather than detracts from the XF saloon’s elegance.
The rear of the Sportbrake is very distinctive indeed, thanks to elegant styling that includes a choice of chrome or black treatment for the wraparound side glass. Either looks good, but we’d err towards the black as it makes the XF Sportbrake look like a proper ‘shooting brake’.
Jaguar will let people drive the XF Sportbrake for the first time in the autumn so, for now, we’ll have to guess what it’s like. It won’t take a genius to surmise it’ll be similar to the saloon, although we’d expect a bit more bias towards ride quality here, in deference to the extra loads this will carry. It’ll be sophisticated on the move too, as every model gets Jaguar Adaptive Drive and self-levelling rear suspension as standard.
Engines are all-diesel, giving a choice between the 2.2-litre four-pot or the 3.0-litre V6. We’d have the latter, thanks, in 275bhp guise.
On the inside
Up front, the XF Sportbrake has the same lovely dashboard as the saloon. It’s packed with character and beautifully finished: because it’s such an antidote to the Teutonic efficiency of its German rivals, you can forgive details such as the fiddly sat nav and cheap column stalks.
It’s further back where the differentiation is, starting with the rear cabin which, thanks to the extended roofline, has a welcome extra two inches of headroom. The roof stretches right back to a large and fairly vertical tailgate, electrically operated if you want, which opens up a loadspace that, seats down, swallows 1,675 litres of stuff . The luggage bay is up to two metres long as well, a space that’s easy to use courtesy of fold-flat split rear seats. Hide stuff beneath the boot floor, secure it using attachments in the aircraft-style attachment rail, fit in extra-wide items using cleverly hidden cutouts in the side trim.
It’s all been very well thought out - and unlike the competition, Jaguar has also made the load space luxurious: the same grade of trims and carpet that’s fitted up front also resides here, while the plastics are all colour-coded too.
Diesel engines benefit from the economy boost given to the rest of the XF range for 2013. Emissions dip down to 135g/km, but the V6 just misses the 160g/km mark. As for prices, the XF Sportbrake costs just £2k more than the saloon.