Jaguar embraces a part of the market it has traditionally ignored with its new XF Sportbrake estate. As befits its more practical guise the new XF Sportbrake is only offered with Jaguar's four- or six-cylinder engines, meaning no high-performance R flagship - for now at least.
Though sharing its wheelbase with the XF saloon, the Sportbrake's bodywork is entirely new from the B-pillar back. Rear passengers benefit from an additional 48mm of headroom thanks to the new roofline, while the maximum load space with the 60/40 split fold seats down is 1,675 litres. That's five litres more load space than BMW's 5 Series Touring, though it trails the gargantuan 1,950 litres offered by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate.
Jaguar promises the Sportbrake loses nothing to its saloon relative dynamically. Mike Cross, Chief Engineer, Vehicle Integrity, said: "The XF Sportbrake matches the saloon in both aerodynamics and torsional stiffness. The use of air suspension has allowed us to create a car that captures the unique Jaguar combination of refinement and outstanding dynamic abilities regardless of its load."
That rear air suspension is self-levelling, compensating for any loads in the Sportbrake's luggage area. Like its competitors Jaguar offers the XF Sportbrake with a number of accessories to organise the car's load space. Floor rails are available, allowing the fitment of nets and retaining bars, while the floor can be lifted to divide the space and give access to a further storage compartment. A soft-close boot lid is fitted to all models, with a powered hatch an option.
Prices are yet to be announced, but a premium of £1,500-£2,000 is likely when it reaches Jaguar showrooms next year.
Kyle Fortune - 29 Feb 2012