The trend toward ever more practical vehicles continued overnight with Jaguar releasing images of the new XF-based Sportbrake, that we'll see next week at the Geneva Motor Show. In times past, when wealthy folk needed an upmarket vehicle for the estate, the tastefully modified, coachbuilt practical upmarket vehicles were referred to as "shooting brakes."
The Jaguar is unquestionably a "brake" - a slightly longer, far-more-practical XF with an advanced eight-speed auto and self-leveling air suspension, earmarking it as a potential tow vehicle for those who need to drag horse-floats to the polo, take the boat with them, relocate the entourage and the like.
The Sportbrake will offer a range of diesel engines from a 2.2 liter four through to a 3.0 liter six, each driving the rear wheels via an advanced eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Jaguar claims that the handling characteristics of the XF have been duplicated with the longer and heavier Sportbrake, which means you'd best tie things down tightly in the back, because the XF is a very sporty beast in the swervery.
The interior has a large, easily-accessible and versatile load space of 1,675 liters (442.5 US gallons) with the rear seats down, and on either side of the rear load space are a series of small compartments which seems like a long-overdue move.
For many people, such caches can be really useful - safe places for critical gear - the "sick bag" for when junior or friends vomit after their 37th cupcake and fifth glass of chocolate milk, the emergency change of clothes stash, a spare pair of heels or flats, an overnight bag with cash and a false passport ... and may the automotive designers of the world take note that there are never enough places to put stuff in cars.
There are, however, countless dead spaces in an automobile's construction where it would be useful to secret away emergency supplies of something, or store something that is useful and needs a convenient spot. Glove boxes are a quaint notion, but I've never yet seen one suitably capacious to carry all the stuff one needs. Indeed, I am sure that a substantial part of my fondness for the original Mini were those door pockets.
Technologically, the car is an XF in most respects and no doubt will carve a handsome niche with this upmarket but versatile variant.