While more and more drivers are turning towards crossovers, Jaguar believes many will still be tempted by an old-school estate car.
The XF’s lower ride height is one reason (it makes it easier for dogs to jump in and out for starters) but styling is another.
The first generation Sportbrake wasn’t factored into the car’s original plans, meaning the designers had to adapt the saloon accordingly.
This time around they planned for it from the start, which makes for a much better looking estate.
The Jaguar is well equipped as standard but it is possible to get carried away with the options
The methods used are fairly standard but the sweeping roofline, sharp lines around the side and rear, and notable spoiler combine to make a car that will convince some buyers on looks alone.
The only flaw is the small plastic rectangle that sits behind the badge on the front grille – it’s necessary for the adaptive cruise control and other systems – and Jaguar is working on a solution to avoid fitting it on future cars.
The XF Sportbrake follows much the same pattern as the saloon regarding engines and trims, meaning there is one petrol and four turbo-diesel engines to start off with.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake price range: £34,910-£52,400
The 2.0-litre diesel comes in 161bhp, 178bhp and 237bhp power outputs, while the 296bhp V6 3.0-litre diesel is the most powerful engine for now, and comes in the S badged model capable of the 0 to 60mph sprint in just 6.1 seconds.
A 247bhp 2.0-litre turbo is initially the sole petrol option, though don’t be surprised to see other petrols joining the range in due course.
Company car buyers will be drawn towards the two lower-powered diesels, with the 161bhp version the most economical when equipped with the manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive – it emits 118g/km and claims an average fuel economy of 62.8mpg.
The extra weight and different shape of the Sportbrake means this is slightly less efficient than the saloon, although this gap narrows slightly on the more powerful models.
The mid-range 237bhp model is an excellent engine in many ways – it is rapid but feels more like a fast cruiser than a brutish estate.
It’s generally quiet but the diesel noise makes itself known under harder acceleration and rivals are more refined. Economy is its biggest downfall. With an average of 48.7mpg and 153g/km emissions,- it makes much less sense on paper than the lesser-powered versions. Just like the saloon version this more practical XF is a fine handling machine.
The steering is solidly reassuring, and the suspension does a fantastic job of absorbing the worst that the road has to throw at it, although you will feel a few bumps if you opt for the larger 20-inch wheels.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 2.0-litre; Turbo-diesel – 2.0 to 3.0-litre
Jaguar XF Sportbrake power: 0 to 60mph in 6.1 seconds, with 155mph top speed
The boot is simple in its approach in many ways, which will come as a reassurance to some but not to those who like their boot to have loads of hidden cubbies and tricks.
The good bits are excellent as there is a wide opening, a flat entry lip that won’t trip up your dogs and seats that fold wonderfully flat thanks to a pair of neat handles either side of the loading bay.
Those weighty seats will take a hefty shove to get back into position though.
One noteworthy thing is quite how flat the sides of the boot are. The decision, says Jaguar, was made to sacrifice a bit of space for a cleaner sidewall and boot area.
Space on offer matches the majority of the Sportbrake’s rivals – 565 litres with the seats in place and 1,700 when they are folded.
This pretty much equals estate versions of the BMW 5-Series and Audi A6 but all three fall short of the class-leading and cavernous Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
A particularly neat trick is the new system that raises the load cover when you open the boot and automatically returns it to its place when you put it down again.
Rear seats are good when it comes to space. The two outer seats have excellent headroom (especially with the optional panoramic roof, which adds extra space) and a good amount of legroom for taller passengers.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake average fuel economy: 62.8mpg
The middle seat is very much an occasional one as the raised seat cushion and the nonexistent legroom means it is not one in which you would want to spend an extended period of time.
In the front seat everything is pretty much identical to the saloon version until you look over your shoulder.
Those sweeping external lines and the headrests combine to make rear visibility very poor, meaning you’ll rely on the mirrors and standard- fit parking sensors for reversing.
The Jaguar is well equipped as standard but it is possible to get carried away with the options. Highlights of the standard offering include satnav, climate control and a powered tailgate, while options include adaptive suspension, a cooled glovebox and a gesture-controlled roof blind for the panoramic roof.
The latter is entertaining but a bit of a gimmick as pressing a button is no hardship and won’t leave fellow drivers thinking you are waving at them as you try to master the technique.
Adding an extra level of practicality does come at a cost – around £2,500 across the range – but this is a fine car in many ways. It has lost none of the saloon’s excellent driving experience and offers a lot of practicality in a good-looking body.
It might not stand out above its rivals on paper, but its looks will be enough to sway some buyers. And they won’t feel shortchanged if they opt for the Jaguar.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake CO2 emissions range: 118-155g/km
Model: Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Price range: £34,910-£52,400
Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 2.0-litre; Turbo-diesel – 2.0, 2.0 178bhp, 2.0 237bhp, 3.0-litre
Power: 0 to 60mph in 6.1 seconds, 155mph top speed (3.0TD)
Average fuel economy: 62.8mpg (2.0TD)
CO2 emissions range: 118-155g/km
Rivals: Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class, Volvo V90