Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2.2D Sport
Week ending January 31
Miles this week 147
There was a stern test for the XF Sportbrake this week: swallowing a huge framed picture and a print in their cardboard packaging.
It did the job, but only just.
Folding down the rear seats was the work of a moment, because you simply pull two levers in the boot and, hey presto, you have a long, flat load bay.
The boot is also pretty wide, but not quite as wide as our pictures. This meant putting them in at a slant, at which point the boot’s shallowness became an issue. After a bit of manipulation, though, the package was in and safely resting at an angle between both sides of the boot.
So the Jag has the space – just – to take large loads, but many upmarket estate cars are more practical. Still, to my eyes at least, none is as attractive as the XF Sportbrake, and sleek looks never go hand in hand with cargo-like carrying capacity.
By Barnaby Jones
Week ending January 24
Miles this week 150
Our XF doesn't have that much longer in the car park; it'll probably be heading back to Jaguar soon. Oddly enough, I did the original spec for the car, so I was interested to spend a couple of nights in it to see how the chosen trim and options have stood up to more than 14,000 miles of abuse.
The answer is that they've done extremely well. The Jag's seats - a mix of leather and suede - look in excellent condition, and the metallic dashboard finish hasn't worn badly at all. I was particularly glad, too, that we opted for heated seats; the XF's items are spectacularly quick to warm up and borderline uncomfortable when you have them on the highest setting.
By John McIlroy
Week ending January 17
Miles this week 85
A readout on the Jag’s instrument panel has alerted me that our first 16,000-mile service is due in 1500 miles. We’ve covered nearly 14,600 miles in 9 months, so we’re on target for it to be done before the Jag goes back in April.
Items that need attention? Well, some of my colleagues have complained that the driver’s seat has developed a squeak on its lowest setting. There’s a hiss too from somewhere at the rear, as of air escaping, but whether this is just the air-sprung rear gearing itself up, or the tailgate struts letting themselves down, I’ve no idea. There’s an occasional thumping sound when coming to a halt, but this we’ve been told is just fuel sloshing around in the tank, and there’s nothing that can be done about that.
Of more concern might be the low levels of rear traction, more noticeable obviously on the wetter and colder roads of winter. The rear Pirellis are worn right down at the outer edges, though they still have a reasonable depth of tread in the middle. Good tyres they are, with generally high levels of grip and low noise, but not long-life, it appears.
The rest of the car has stood up to a high level of abuse, inflicted by a number of different drivers, and emerged relatively unscathed. It hasn’t let us down, and we’ve only had recourse to the dealers once, to have the xenon headlights adjusted.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending January 10
Miles this week 55
It’s New Year, and time for a confession.
I like our Sportbrake, and will be sad when - in three months - it goes back to Jaguar. However, and here’s my confession, much as I admire this car, I don’t really like its engine.
To me, the 2.2-litre turbodiesel unit, which can trace its lineage back to various Fords and Land Rovers before being spruced up for service in this executive Jag, always feels like a diesel engine, and that’s not really a recommendation.
I’ve driven many cars fitted with variants of this engine, and not liked any of them. There’s a noticeable gruffness at low speeds. There’s an incredibly limited powerband, with massive turbo lag and absolutely nothing in the way of shove available below 2000rpm. When it does finally get going, it’s all out of puff split seconds later by 4000rpm. Matched to an eight-speed gearbox that dithers before deciding which ratio to choose, driving the Jag smoothly is often a frustrating business.
True, it offers reasonable go, but, in our hands, not exceptional economy (I still struggle to better 35mpg, and often don’t even reach 30mpg).
I feel in need of atonement, though: regular readers will know I think the rest of the car rather splendid.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending January 3
Miles this week 175
Last year was a good one for our Jag. It proved itself the most popular car we’ve ever had on the What Car? fleet, by virtue of it being the car most people wanted to borrow. Whether it was a short trip to the tip or a long holiday in France, the keys were seldom on my desk.
The reasons for its popularity are obvious. We liked the grace and elegance of the XF saloon, but the Sportbrake adds practicality. Here is a driver’s car, with an excellent chassis, reasonable economy and a good turn of speed, which can also ferry all the paraphernalia associated with small children. More impressively, over the festive season it managed to transport my family and me quickly and smartly to a variety of far-flung locations. It swallowed Christmas goods and a 6ft 4inch tree, too, and returned an average 36mpg.
We’ve now covered 14,000 more or less trouble-free miles in just over eight months. Our car still looks and feels fresh, although there is a hint of wear to the rear tyres. We have about four months left with it, and already we sense it’s going to be badly missed by all our team when it goes back.
By Mark Pearson