The poor old estate car has come in for a tough time of it in recent years. The problem has nothing to do with the products themselves, which continue to improve with every generation, but with buyers discovering something they deem to be better.
That something of course is the SUV, a type of car so popular that even Jaguar, a manufacturer renowned for its sports cars and saloons, now builds two of them, with another soon to be added. But the F-Pace, E-Pace and forthcoming I-Pace haven’t quite done enough to kill off the estate car just yet, and a good thing that is too. After all, we’d then have to wave farewell to the XF Sportbrake, and thus give up on what is arguably one of the best all-rounders on the market.
That’s a bold statement, we know. But bear with us. For a start, the second-generation XF Sportbrake we are concentrating on here is roomy, as in easily spacious enough for four tall adults to travel in comfort, while the boot is as large as you’d expect. If you want a number for that, it’s a generous 565 litres, and that’s assuming you don’t load it above the window line. Yes, a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate is larger still, but otherwise the Jaguar is in the top-tier of load-luggers.
So it’s spacious. Not exactly a surprise, is it? No, what makes the XF a credible contender for that best all-rounder claim is how well it does everything else, from its finely crafted design (yes, we know styling is subjective, but come on!) to the way it drives. Indeed, it’s on this latter point that the XF Sportbrake really starts to pull out some ground over SUVs, which on account of their high centre of gravity just can’t match a well-sorted saloon or estate car when it comes to being steered down your favourite twisting road. And that includes Jaguar’s F-Pace, which is far better than most.
As ever with Jaguar, it’s the fine balance struct between good ride quality and precise, involving handling that impresses most. Indeed, the XF’s steering is a lesson in how it should be done, with a mixture of precision and weighting that makes its German rivals feel aloof. What’s more, because Jaguar has equipped all XF Sportbrakes with self-levelling air suspension at the rear, the handling is consistent regardless of how much you’re carrying.
The engine range consists of four- and six-cylinder units in petrol and diesel guises. In entry-level form you get a 161bhp diesel and a manual gearbox, but above that all XF Sportbrakes feature Jaguar’s lovely eight-speed automatic. To this you can pair either a twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel with 237bhp, a 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 247bhp, a 296bhp V6 diesel or a 375bhp supercharged V6 petrol, and in some cases can opt for all-wheel drive rather than the standard rear-wheel-drive configuration (use the filters on the CarGurus listings to select what you’re after).
That the cheapest XF Sportbrake you can buy is called the Prestige tells you all you need to know about Jaguar’s approach to specification. Thus equipped the XF comes with a digital instrument display in place of analogue dials, an 8-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and DAB radio, dual-zone climate control and leather seats.
Spend more on a Portfolio and you’ll benefit from a reversing camera, keyless entry, an improved audio system and a higher grade of leather trim, while R-Sport versions have more aggressive styling, sports seats and front parking sensors.
If you want a top-of-the-range S model you also need to have the V6 diesel, which is no hardship. It includes everything from the models below plus electrically adjustable heated leather seats and adaptive suspension.
There’s plenty of safety kit too, much of which is standard across all models. For example, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking are fitted to every XF Sportbrake, while upgrades on top of this include an Active Safety Pack with blind spot monitors and road sign recognition.
WHY BUY USED RATHER THAN NEW?
As ever, when buying a new car you pay a premium for being its first owner. Of course, you also have the luxury of specifying everything to your precise requirements, and a one-owner car will be worth more than an equivalent model with two owners when time comes to sell. However, if you’re prepared to accept all of those things and settle for a car that has a few hundred miles on the clock it is possible to save thousands of pounds on this recently launched second-generation XF Sportbrake, and should still benefit from the majority of the original three-year manufacturer warranty.
What’s more, by searching for a Jaguar XF Sportbrake via CarGurus you can see how the price of an individual car compares with others for sale in your area, and then use dealer ratings to guide you as to where you’ll find a great buying experience. Then there’s the best bit of all about buying used rather than new: you don’t have to wait. Simply strike the deal and that shiny XF Sportbrake is yours to enjoy – and enjoy it you surely will.
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