Jaguar’s XF Sportbrake is trying to buck the trend of its own line-up by offering buyers a luxury wagon.
It’s always a welcome addition when any manufacturer adds a wagon to their line-up, but there’s something even more special when it’s a Jaguar.
Wagons are indeed a rare breed these days. There’s plenty of ‘wagon-like’ options on the market but they are mostly just extended hatchbacks or SUVs. For Jaguar to offer a proper wagon platform, it shows they are either really committed to their fan-base, or they are trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
And that last point is what I’d like to discuss. I feel there’s been a missed opportunity here. Maybe even an injustice to loyal Jaguar customers.
Words: Brendan Allen
Look and Feel
I don’t know what it is about the simple act of offering a wagon version these days that makes it so cool.
It’s a wagon. It’s a sedan with an extra bit on the back. It could again be the fact that Jaguar is doing something different to everyone else, or it could be that this is a good looking car, especially in Fuji White.
The wheels are pretty basic as with many cars in this segment, nothing to write home about. Considering the Sportbrake is a modern take on the family station wagon, the last thing you’d want is to have to worry about scratching the ‘twenty twos’. But as with a lot of things on this car, it makes me wonder “what if” Jag had picked something out from their more performance-oriented offerings?
The interior is a stand-out for me with it’s elegant and functional design which starts with the dashboard stitching and ends with the rear cargo space. Which is massive, even with all the seats up. The ambience provided by the lighting and entertainment system provides a calming environment for both driver and passengers.
The controls are very intuitive and it’s the small premium features that make it a delight to pilot around suburban streets as well as out on the open road. I was particularly fond of the gear selector wheel that rises up to greet you every time you get in to start your drive.
The Seats are very comfortable and very nicely finished as expected. Jaguar has struck a great balance between quality and minimalism with the XF interior.
This version is the 25t variant with a turbocharged 2.0 inline four-cylinder petrol Ingenium pushing 184kW (250PS) through the eight-speed auto gearbox. There is no manual option available in any of the XF range. The thing that makes the wagon a cool wagon, is that it’s a rear-wheel drive platform. That’s right, it’s a RWD sports wagon with a decent amount of poke up front.
The turbo four seems like it’s a strange choice for such a large car (more on this later), especially as there is a 221kw (300PS) V6 option (albeit in diesel only) but it does a great job of keeping everything motoring along nicely. It has great response off the line and the gearbox is a seamless unit that you don’t even have to think about. Just drive the thing!
Suspension, brakes and tyres are more than up to the job of making this wagon a “Sport” version. There are optional upgrades available to bring more adaptive technology to the platform to help with stability and safety, if that’s something you’re into.
Overall, the whole package works really well. The car doesn’t feel anywhere near as big as it really is as you can treat it like a mid-sized sedan. It’s predictable and capable.
Part of this is down to the huge amount of aluminium in the XF’s lightweight chassis. Not many wagons are this side of two tonnes these days.
Feedback from the wheel and tyres is great for a car on the larger side. Jaguar have clearly pulled on their years of expertise to provide the driver with a great experience on all road surfaces. The electronic steering feels really well balanced and matches perfectly with the chassis and engine.
The drivetrain and chassis combine to provide a great platform for what is essentially a shrinking segment (RWD wagons, or even sedans for that matter).
It’s a wonderful car to drive and it would be right at the top of my list if I was looking for a family car that wasn’t an SUV.
Saying that, there seems to be something lacking and this is what I’ve been alluding to throughout the whole article. Now, Jaguar have had the balls to include a wagon in their lineup for many years now, with the first Sportbrake launching in 2012, and this is something we should all be grateful for.
However, I can’t help but think what could have been if Jaguar had taken the same iron-fisted approach with the XF Wagon that they did with the F-Type line-up.
Imagine with me, that you could go out and buy a proper RWD wagon with a 184kW engine, and you can, this is the car for you!t
Now imagine how much cooler it would be if it had the 423kw supercharged V8 from the F-Type SVR Coupe which we reviewed in June 2018.
I think Jaguar is teetering on the edge of becoming a bit “less than premium” as they would like to be and I feel that creating a hero car out of a traditional wagon platform would help them lift that image in more ways than one. I honestly think people would pay $350k+ for a Jag wagon with a supercharged V8.
The XF Sportbrake R-Sport is a great car and it’s extremely refreshing to see a proper wagon on the roads in 2019. Even more so when you consider that Jaguar are likely building these cars for the enthusiasts. I’d just love to see something bonkers from the old British manufacturer.
Brendan will drive anything with wheels, which is lucky because he writes for The Redline.
He has a soft spot for manual French hot hatches and has recently come out as “bi-transmissional” after getting more seat time with some tasty exotics.