Review: 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake adds a nice caboose to the XF
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake takes the goodness that is the XF sedan and makes it sexier with a wagon-styled rear. This not only adds beauty to the already good-looking XF, but it brings better dynamic balance to the car's feel on the road.
I will freely admit that I have a near-fetish for station wagons of all descriptions. When something that's already well-made, like the Jaguar XF, is made into a more provocative shooting brake-styled vehicle like the Sportbrake, I tend to get wiggly eyebrows.
The 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a beautifully-designed wagon whose classic proportions hint at its old world origins, while modern touches promise today's luxury is underneath. A dynamic curve at the fender creates the line between hood and fenders, while lines along the center of the hood run in parallel towards the windscreen. This builds a forward pace for the XF that is classic automotive beauty.
The fender line continues under the side mirrors and through to behind the rear doors, dipping slightly to create the rear haunch. This accents the Sportbrake's classic estate styling, with a gentle angle to the roofline and a hint at a running board beneath.
Inside, the 2018 Sportbrake is beset with high-quality materials and workmanship. It's the small touches, such as the rising vents and shifter upon startup, that make this an unmistakable Jaguar. The hints at yacht curves and woodwork are also there. Opulence in the Jaguar XF is done in the sedate, quietly British way that the company has made a hallmark of its design motifs. Comfort is everywhere, and the driver's cockpit is well organized and designed to keep control within reach at all times.
Wide-opening doors with high openings make getting in and out of the XF easy, but the doors feel heavy if the "soft close" feature is not opted. Headroom is good in the front seats and good enough for most in the rear. Taller folks may feel the pinch of the roofline's dip towards the rear of the back seats. Sitting three across in the rear seat is realistic in the XF Sportbrake, but legroom becomes an issue due to the driveline hump.
The cargo space in the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake is accommodating and large, with room for plenty of things without fuss. On par with most small crossovers, the cargo space can be expanded further by folding down the rear seats. Cargo is measured at 31.7 cubic feet and 69.7 cubic feet (897.6 and 1,973.6 liters) with the rear seats up or folded.
A weak point for the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is with its technology offerings. Jaguar has yet to really catch up to the rest of the luxury market's capabilities in this regard. The infotainment interface is easy to use, but that comes largely because there isn't much it can do. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard and a 12-inch screen is an upgrade option. Both are crisp and respond quickly, but the 12-inch offers more layout options and ease of read in comparison to the smaller option. There is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity as a proprietary Jaguar app attempts to replace that ... with limited success.
Where the infotainment upgrade might be paltry in terms of the capabilities it adds, which include navigation (voiced by a choppy British woman) and some added connectivity options, the sound system it can bring is well worth the price paid.
Performance in the Jaguar Sportbrake is very good. This model utilizes the XF's supercharged V6 that outputs 380 horsepower (283 kW) and 332 pound-feet (450 Nm). This runs through an eight-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway (13 and 9.4 l/100km).
On the road, the 2018 XF Sportbrake is very well-balanced and wonderful to drive. It doesn't have the performance of a more sport-oriented vehicle, but it has plenty of confidence and road-going appeal. Compared to the sedan, the Sportbrake is a bit heavier in weight, but the distribution pushes to the rear for a more balanced feel on the road. The AWD system does a good job of keeping the tires in grip, and the chassis is nicely stiff in the corners.
The 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a joy to drive and a very well-done estate wagon. We like its relatively accessible price tag (compared to others in the segment) at about US$73,000, but would like to see Jaguar step up with a more performance-oriented option as a true shooting brake and with better infotainment. As it is, the Sportbrake is a beautiful car to look at and drive, though, and a very classy everyday family vehicle.
Product Page: 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake
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