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Jaguar XF Sportbrake test drive

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake shows that diesel estate cars still have a place on our roads. But can it deliver a real challenge to the German favourites?

Jaguar has been battling against a tide of bad luck in recent times. Collapsing demand for diesel cars, combined with slumping sales of its saloon models, has meant that it has been having a trickier time of things than it really deserves.

Particularly when you consider it still makes very good cars – and, fingers crossed, the new XF Sportbrake that we’re testing here is one of them.

Yes, it’s a diesel. But before you scramble for the hills, remember that oil-burners still have their place on our roads – particularly in premium estate cars like this one that are designed to regularly travel long miles and/or carry more load than their saloon equivalents.

What’s new about the Jaguar XF Sportbrake?

Sportbrake is the Jaguar marketing department’s way of avoiding the common old term  ‘estate’. So it’s why you’ll find a large, sloping rear design being fronted by the look you’ll see on the regular XF saloon. The obvious benefits are improved boot space and a better degree of practicality overall.

Inside, it gets the latest incarnation of Jaguar’s infotainment system and here, in R-Sport trim, a variety of design touches to make it look more dynamic out on the road.

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How does it look?

Though the XF’s general design has been with us for some time, that doesn’t stop the Sportbrake from being striking to look at. Our R-Sport model, with big alloy wheels and restyled bumpers, is a certified looker (in our eyes at least), made even better by its estate layout which somehow adds to its overall sleekness.

It’s quite spec-dependent, of course. Small wheels don’t do the Sportbrake any favours, while certain colours – such as the excellent Caesium Blue – play to the car’s strengths far more than conventional shades such as grey and white.

What’s the spec like?

In R-Sport specification, the XF Sportbrake gets a comprehensive list of standard equipment. Features such as automatic windscreen wipers, two-zone climate control and Bluetooth connectivity are all options we’d expect to see included at this price point, while the R-Sport’s extras of rear self-levelling air suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels and a full sports bodykit only help to elevate the overall feel of the car.

‘Our’ test car also came fitted with a variety of options, including a cold climate pack (£760) that includes a heated front windscreen, heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats, as well as 10-way electrically-adjustable front seats (£300). Also added was Jaguar’s Incontrol infotainment system (£1,050). It’s a good setup, but doesn’t look quite as sharp as some rival offerings.

Continued on next page: Interior, driving experience and our verdict

Jack Evans
Jack Evans
Articles by Jack Evans are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.
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