Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2.2D Sport
Read the full Jaguar XF Sportbrake review
Week ending December 20
Miles this week 185
The Sportbrake is a roomy car, roomier than the XF saloon. Thanks to its enlarged end you get more rear headroom as well as, with the rear seats folded, a larger luggage capacity.
However, this week brings with it the greatest test the Sportbrake has so far faced: Christmas. It’s not just a matter of transporting people quickly and smartly from home to festive home or overcrowded shop to panic-laden supermarket: we already know the XF is supreme at this.
One of the major challenges this season brings is the transporting of the Christmas tree, and at this I’m pleased to say it excelled. Admittedly it needed one of the rear seats folded down, but then the tree it had to accommodate was 6ft 4inches tall. What’s more, it was extremely easy to load in and get out - I couldn’t have pined for better.
Even more importantly there’s 500 litres of luggage space with the rear seats up, a handsome amount that can easily swallow even the most generous or plentiful of Santa’s offerings. I’ve already banged on about the virtues of the self-levelling rear suspension in these updates, so take it as read the Jag can cope very easily with the varying demands of a family Christmas. If only one could say the same of the driver.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending December 13
Miles this week 350
The Sportbrake is the ultimate Waitrose car. If the John Lewis partnership were to make and sell a car, I reckon this would be it.
Why? Well Waitrose is a supermarket that has developed a reputation for quality. The shopping experience, despite its obvious and cultivated whiff of one-upmanship (I live in Esher, so I’m attuned to such things), is harmonious.
Jaguar has, over the last few years, tried very hard to rid itself of its golf club image. If you’re of a certain age you’ll associate the Jaguar brand with the retired Colonel, British Leyland, the 1970s, the appalling build quality, and, quite possibly, the car up on bricks on a council estate. If you’re any older you’ll think of it as a purveyor of good looking, pseudo-sporting or luxury cars built down, not always successfully, to a very tight budget.
However, over the last few years we’ve had the XK, the XF, the new XJ, the F-Type, and victory in customer satisfaction surveys. You can now rely on a Jag to get you not only to the supermarket, but also home again. Things are looking up.
The truth is Jaguar succeeds by selling to exactly the sort of people who want to buy a Jaguar, just as Waitrose succeeds by offering the sort of shop people who shop in Waitrose would want.
On top of this the Sportbrake is a really useable estate car. Never mind the swoopy roof, there’s bags of room in there for luggage or groceries. It’ll do it all with an air of discreet quality and, perhaps more importantly, the ability to fill your neighbour’s eye.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending December 6
Miles this week 450
The Sportbrake’s been to meet its new cousin this week. Jaguar launched the 2014 model year XF in the splendid surroundings of Eastnor Castle in Ledbury, a 240-mile round hop from my home. Naturally, to take me to the new XF, I chose the old one.
Changes to the new car are few. By tweaking the exhaust valve mechanism the CO2 of the 161bhp 2.2-litre diesel (ours is the 197bhp version) has dropped from 135g/km to 129g/km, a reduction significant enough to put it within contention of its rivals from Audi and BMW.
On the road, the new 161bhp car feels like the old one. The interior is unchanged, so too the exterior (my test car was even the same lustrous Stratus Grey paint as ours). There’s no noticeable change in performance, either, although the engine of the one I drove was noticeably smoother than the old one and, significantly, sweeter than the more powerful engine in our older car. This is down to increased sound insulation, to combat the extra noise and vibration encountered by the more intrusive stop-start system, which cuts in and out more often in the hopes of improving economy.
My test car rode on 17-inch wheels, too, rather than the 18-inch ones our car rides on, and the most noticeable thing here was the lighter steering. Still direct, mind you, and still responsive, but lighter to twirl.
The updated car is good, but I must admit what impressed me more was the way our Jag handled the journey there and back. Fast, secure, safe, and enjoyable: our Jag is in its element on A-roads and motorways. It’s still a remarkably swift and competent cruiser.
By Mark Pearson