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Driven: Jaguar XF 3.0d S Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.

Driven: Jaguar XF 3.0d S Sportbrake
Getting on the Jaguar XF may be, but in top-line Portfolio S diesel spec, the Sportbrake is a gem.

 



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| Test drive | Jaguar XF 3.0d S Sportbrake |

Overall rating: 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: creamy V6 diesel engine, good economy, great looks inside and out, supreme ride comfort with good handling...
Not so good: ...but possibly not the sharpest chassis underneath the electronics, small boot, replacement model due soon.

Key Facts

Model tested: Jaguar XF Sportbrake 3.0d S Portfolio
Pricing: 51,510 basic; 55,823 as tested
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
Rivals: Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI quattro, BMW 535d Touring, Mercedes-Benz E 350 BlueTEC Estate
CO2 emissions: 163g/km
Combined economy: 46.3mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.6 seconds
Power: 275hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 2,000rpm

Our view:

Until the mental but brilliant XFR-S Sportbrake was recently announced, this was the most powerful Jaguar estate you could buy, top of a tree made up entirely of diesel power. But while the V8 supercharged wagon is bound to win all the media plaudits in the months to come, it's this higher-powered V6 turbodiesel that represents one of the finest all-round cars you're likely to come across.

Our test car was a range-topping Portfolio model with the S engine (275hp - instead of 240hp on the lesser 3.0d), so it commands a fairly hefty starting price in excess of 50 grand. Whether you need to add another 4,313 of options as done here is up to you, although we would recommend the excellent 1,275 Adaptive Cruise Control as it's one of the best of its type we've encountered, the 240 heated steering wheel (we must be getting old, but it's lovely to have it in winter) and the 500 package that adds in front parking sensors and the also-excellent reversing camera.

What you'll end up with if you spec it in this manner is a supremely elegant wagon, both inside and out. Yes, the XF has been around for seven years now and once Coventry has got its XE 3 Series rival out of the way, a replacement should be due for the bigger Jag. But it still looks stunning, the clever visual trick of blacking out the D-pillar reducing bulk at the back. This car is on colossal 20-inch 'Hydra' alloys, which are sensational, and it features a neat body kit that adds enough visual flair lower down without looking too Halfords. As for the interior, it's restrained and sophisticated, and as we said when driving the XFR-S late last year, it doesn't feel as dated as some detractors have begun muttering in recent reviews.

The real delight is on the move. Despite those big wheels, it has one of the best rides of any car we've driven; it's almost at the stately levels of the Rover 75 (no, we've not gone mad - try one and see). You can feel the odd lump and bump occasionally transmitting a muffled jolt through the suspension, but the XF spends the vast majority of its time filtering such rude interruptions out of your journey. You can switch it into a firmer mode if you want but we wouldn't advise it; in its normal setting, the Sportbrake has decent enough control of its big body. Admittedly, it can float on its springs from time to time - one bend on a slight crest got it sliding with traction fully engaged at a mere 50mph - but this is a rarity unless you're driving like a loon.

And, let's face it; diesel estates, no matter what power they chuck out, are hardly optimised for B-road blasts, and the rest of the time the XF Sportbrake is sensational. The refinement level is stratospheric, the noise levels suitably suppressed, while the eight-speed automatic gearbox is a glory. It's not quite as good as the Quickshift version on the XFR-S, yet it's totally unflappable in road use. The steering is light and lacking feel, but pleasant enough to deal with, while the brakes are well-judged for the whole Sportbrake package.

Finally, a 275hp diesel motor with 600Nm of torque is as flexible and fast as you might imagine; the XF 3.0d S is properly quick, even in a world of 300hp hot hatches. And, praise the lord, here's a car that gets near its quoted combined economy - we saw roughly 41mpg overall during our lead-footed 500 miles with it, while it easily achieved over 48mpg on a steady cruise-controlled motorway haul from the Midlands to Farnborough and back.

The only main drawback, bizarrely, is on the grounds of practicality. The cabin is spacious enough for four adults, but as beautiful as that sloping rear end is, it doesn't help with outright boot space and thanks to a high floor and small aperture, the cargo bay isn't as cavernous as some rivals' examples.

Once again, it's a crushingly capable all-round showing from a Jag that doesn't leave you having to justify your purchase in a vaguely jingoistic, flag-waving show of patriotism. This is easily the match of its rivals from Merc and Audi, with only the annoyingly perfect BMW 5 Series Touring standing in its path on the road to luxury executive domination. However, the Sportbrake should undercut an equivalent spec 535d Luxury by enough pounds to make it worthwhile, albeit the BMW makes 313hp - if that matters to you, on an automatic diesel estate.

As a high-end car to take away the pains of modern motoring, it's hard to think of anything that could do things better than this S-model Sportbrake. Just don't count on attending any antiques fairs for bits of old furniture, as the boot isn't up to the task.

Alternatives:

Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI quattro (313hp): highest-power twin-turbo A6 only available in all-wheel drive form, but starts at a lower price than XF. Not as nice to look at or drive, however.

BMW 535d Touring Luxury: sets the bar in this class. More power, better dynamics, more cash. Ubiquitous, though.

Mercedes-Benz E 350 BlueTEC Estate: lower power, though more torque at 620Nm. Competitive price, as well, but not as rounded a car as the Jaguar.


Matt Robinson - 29 Apr 2014









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2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.



2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Image by Matt Robinson.
 






 

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