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Jaguar XF Sportbrake 25d 2017 Road Test

Given the rate at which Jaguar is turning out SUVs – the E-Pace and the electric I-Pace are soon to join the established F-Pace – you might think it had given up on the most traditional of practical family wagons, the humble estate.

You could feasibly have come to that conclusion, with the XF only offered in saloon form when it first launched in 2016, but Jaguar now somewhat cheekily admits that it planned to make a Sportbrake all along. By factoring the Sportbrake into the plans from the start, Jaguar says that it was able to give its development the attention it deserved, both dynamically and visually.

It’s definitely succeeded on the visual front with the swooping lines of the Sportbrake making for a very stylish car. It borrows elements from other Jaguars in the range but stands out as a model in its own right. 

There is more simplicity to the boot, though, which works in some ways and not in others. The good bits are excellent, as there is a wide opening, a flat entry lip that won’t trip up the dogs as they leap into the boot plus seats that fold flat thanks to a pair of neat handles either side of the loading bay.

Said seats might drop easily, but they are rather heavy so getting them back into position requires a good shove. The optional net that sits above the rear seats to divide the boot from the cabin is tricky to reach and secure in place from the side door - and almost impossible from the back of the car. Once up, it still leaves a large gap between the top of the net and the roof, but it will stop those dogs from getting through into the cabin.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake (4)

Other attributes include a small but partitioned space under the boot floor, a net and a hook for holding shopping bags on either side and a set of rails with sliding lashing hooks for tying down loose items. One noteworthy thing is quite how flat the sides of the boot are. This is deliberate, says Jaguar, and that the decision was made to sacrifice a bit of space for a cleaner sidewall and boot area.

Overall there is a good amount of space in the boot, though, with 565 litres when the seats are in place and 1700 litres when they are folded, which matches the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series almost exactly. All three fall short of the class-leading Mercedes E-Class, though, which offers 640 and 1820 litres respectively.

The rear seats offer plenty of legroom for adults in the two side seats and there is a good amount of headroom for all but the tallest. If you have particularly tall regular rear seat passengers, then the panoramic sunroof is worth considering, as it adds another 50mm of headspace. Said panoramic roof can also be kitted with a sensor that allows you to open and close the blind by waving your hand at it. It’s a neat trick that might impress passengers, but pressing a button is arguably easier and won’t make fellow drivers think you are waving at them while you master the movement....

Passengers who end up in the middle of the back row will be less comfortable, though, as the raised seat cushion and the non-existent footwell means that it is suitable for short journeys only.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake (3)

In the front seat everything is pretty standard Jaguar XF, with one exception: the view over your shoulder is severely compromised by those attractive sweeping lines. The large rear pillar and the headrests combine to mean that you will rely on the mirrors and parking sensors when reversing. Otherwise, it is a classy and comfortable cabin, although it will take a bit of fiddling with the seat to get the position exactly right, such is the range of its adjustment.

Just as the saloon is, the XF Sportbrake is a great car to drive. The steering is well weighted and it is neat and reassuring through corners both fast and slow. This high-powered 25d diesel engine might not be the quietest in the class, but is quiet enough that it doesn’t intrude - and there is little in the way of road or wind noise, too.

The only downside to the way it drives is a slight amount of jerkiness on the gear changes, particularly the lower ratios. The ride is well controlled, with the self-levelling rear suspension keeping things smooth, although it is slightly firm on the optional 20-inch wheels.

This 2.0-litre 240PS diesel engine is far from the most economical option in the range with a claimed 48.7mpg - and you'll realistically be looking at late 30s in real world driving.  Stepping down to the 180PS version with the same eight-speed auto box and AWD improves efficiency notably, with economy of 56.5mpg.

For these reasons, the 25d it is not likely to be the pick of the range, but the Sportbrake package is compelling, and attractive, enough to win to certainly tempt people away from the usual premium estates.

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