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By Car & Driving
Introductionword count: 126
The XF Sportbrake is Jaguar's answer to the BMW 5-series, Audi A6 and Mercedes E-class estates. Introduced in 2012 with a range of powerful, yet efficient petrol and diesel engines, this stylish premium executive station wagon hoped to emulate the popularity of the brand's XF saloon, with an engaging ride, surefooted handling and competitive performance. Everything that made the saloon popular remains here. As a result, the quirky, stylish interior, impressive handling, comfortable ride and luxurious interior make the Sportbrake an interesting used car alternative to its tough German rivals. The Sportbrake also offers a strong engine line-up, with frugal diesel units at the bottom of the range and fire-spitting supercharged petrol V8s at the top. This means that this XF appeals to a wide audience.
Modelsword count: 29
Mid-size estate 5dr (2.2d [163 or 200PS], 3.0d V6, 3.0d V6 S, 5.0 V8) [Standard, Luxury, R-Sport, Premium Luxury, Portfolio and S versions of Luxury, Premium Luxury and Portfolio]
Historyword count: 110
The XF saloon, released in 2007, marked a turning point in Jaguar's fortunes but it wasn't until a year after the brand facelifted this car in 2011 that it released the Sportbrake estate version we look at here. Just like the saloon, the estate XF prioritised sporty looks over outright space and even in basic spec, it looks fantastic. It may not be class-leading in terms of outright performance and the cabin is starting to look a little dated by comparison with some rivals, but the Sportbrake blends luxury, performance, handling, ride quality and efficiency like no other. It's definitely the driver's choice in the mid-size premium executive estate market.
What You Getword count: 696
This Sportbrake design is entirely different from its saloon stablemate from the B-pillar backwards, the contrast between the two bodyshapes amplified by the tautly-drawn elegance of the side window line, the flowing rear window graphic and the rising waist. It all lends this car a dynamic, broad-shouldered stance, with a feeling of fluidity heightened by the use of gloss black finishers on the rear pillars and a darkly-tinted rear screen. This emphasises the so-called 'floating roof' and provides a wrap-around effect that's similar, Jaguar reckons, to the superstructures of luxury yachts. But when the optional powered tailgate glides up, will you find it to be practical as well as pretty? At first glance, there's reason to doubt. After all, the wheelbase of this car is just the same as that of the saloon and the 550-litre boot is pretty much the same too. To be fair, that's pretty comparable with the space you'd get in a BMW 5 Series Touring, an Audi A6 Avant or a Volvo V70. Only Mercedes' E-Class estate can offer appreciably more. Anyway, that figure only applies to the amount of space you get under the smart tonneau cover. Dispense with that with a view to loading up above the window line and there's plenty more room on offer, even before you think of operating the neat remote-fold levers that are positioned just inside the tailgate. Tug on these to collapse the 60/40 split-folding rear backrest and you'll find 1675-litres on offer and nearly two metres of total loading length. Thanks to the standard self-levelling air suspension, weightier objects can easily be carried too. As importantly, you can make good use of all this space if you find yourself a car fitted with optional loadspace rail attachments that keep everything in place. Other useful optional features you might find include things like a semi-rigid load tray, a waterproof loadspace liner and a luggage guard to stop animals and packages flying forward under braking. We should also point out that there's additional underfloor space to keep valuables away from prying eyes. And even neat recesses in the side trim, hidden behind mesh fronts that provide extra room and will enable awkward loads to be stowed securely across the width of the boot. So you'll be able to store your golfclub bag sideways for example. Criticisms? There aren't too many. It would be nice to have a compartment to store the tonneau cover in when you aren't using it. Oh and the folded loadfloor is slightly uneven. That's about it. Get to the consideration of people rather than packages and you'll find that the estate practicality continues. In creating this bodystyle, the development team took the opportunity of correcting perhaps the biggest design drawback of the saloon XF model - namely its restricted rear headroom. The Sportback's higher roofline makes it easier to get in to the back and once you're installed in beautifully trimmed leather, you'll find that there's another 48mm of headroom. As ever though, the prominent transmission tunnel means that there's only really comfortable room for two adults. At the wheel of course, this variant is identical to any other XF. So the auto gear selector still rises into the palm of your hand on start-up as the dashboard airvents acrobatically turn into position to greet you as you fire the ignition. Button clutter has been kept to a minimum by grouping many of the key functions on a central 7-inch touch screen - which to be honest, I don't find very intuitive to use. But what I do like is the sheer feeling of class you get in this cabin. From the stitched leather dashboard and door cappings to the aluminium and wood furnishings, it really does feel special, the craftsmanship, materials and attention to detail all good enough to exceed your expectations. Jaguar's designers have sought to find more interesting ways to say 'luxury', and largely, their efforts have worked. The lines are clean and pure, the materials are familiar, but with a very modern flavour - from soft-grained leathers to real wood veneers with a bold, contemporary spin. Even the phosphor blue interior lighting has its own mood.
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Category: Luxury Saloons and Estates
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