Our cars: Jaguar XF Sportbrake - November

Article 5 of 12 See all
  • XF's chassis outshines its rivals, but the fuel economy was a constant disappointment

    XF's chassis outshines its rivals, but the fuel economy was a constant disappointment

  • Front and rear parking sensors, plus reversing camera is the best option pack on our XF Sportbrake

    Front and rear parking sensors, plus reversing camera is the best option pack on our XF Sportbrake

  • It takes a minute to kick in, but the XF's heated windscreen is a boon, clearing ice and frost quickly

    It takes a minute to kick in, but the XF's heated windscreen is a boon, clearing ice and frost quickly

  • Our XF Sportbrake is just about big enough to be a picture transporter

    Our XF Sportbrake is just about big enough to be a picture transporter


Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2.2D Sport

Read the full Jaguar XF Sportbrake review

Week ending November 29
Mileage 13,300
Miles this week 400

What is it about this Jag that makes passengers warm to it?

For the driver, it’s the way the car responds. The responses of the steering, the accelerator and the brake pedal all instil confidence, as does the quality of the ride. The positioning of the driver, the visibility, and the ease of use of the major and minor controls all help, as does the quality, or at least the perceived quality.

For a passenger, apart from concerns about the driver (I would not like to sit next to me, for example, or even behind), the Jag scores on space and seating comfort and adjustability. Added to that are the ride comfort, the superior audio system, the air quality, the electrical goodies, the niceness of the interior surfaces under the fingertips and a general feeling of security, if not quite aloofness.

My family love it. So good is it at instilling these positive feelings of security that they no longer voice any concerns.

Some more discerning passengers might find the low-speed ride firm, others might mention the low-speed gruffness of the engine, but I’ve found the best way to overcome this is not to spend too long at low speeds. The Jag does high speeds quite well, and, thanks to its feelings of security, my passengers are seldom worried by it or even aware of it.

By Mark Pearson

Week ending November 22
Mileage 12,995
Miles this week 140

I’ve waxed fairly lyrical in the past about our long-term Jag XF’s abilities both as a ground-coverer and as an estate. However, there are a couple of things about it that drive me nuts.

For a start, the driver’s seat squeaks when on its lowest setting. Raising it stops this, but I like to sit low in a car, so have to suffer an incessant squeak after every bump. You’ll notice there are a few of those around at the moment.

Also, I’m not a fan of the rearview camera, especially in winter. This is because it gets so grimy that it’s unusable. It’s best to use a combination of rear window, mirrors and audible parking sensors instead of a camera that seems like it has cataracts.

Finally, I’m not a fan of the eight-speed automatic gearbox. This is simply too keen to get into the highest ratio at any given moment. It leaves the car woefully short of overtaking power unless you put your foot down, in which case the revs head skyward. The resultant cacophony is decidedly unseemly, too.

On top of all that, the changes can be a bit on the jerky side, which is definitely not what you expect from an executive estate. I had the same gripe when I ran an XF saloon 18 months ago, so it’s a shame the current car isn’t any better.

By Euan Doig

Week ending November 15
Mileage 625
Miles this week 12,855

A few days’ break in Scotland was in the offing, so I decided that to ease the pain of a 500-mile drive, I’d forgo my much-loved Fiesta ST and instead borrow the long-term Jaguar XF Sportbrake.

What a wise move. I set off before anyone else was up, set the cruise control and sat back to let the miles roll beneath the Jag’s wheels. I arrived in Dundee reasonably fresh and on the same tank of fuel as when I’d left my home.

The Jag excelled up north too. My brother noticed it was an estate, and immediately decided it would be the perfect vehicle in which to take an old shower screen to the tip. It was. I folded down the seats in a trice and the screen fitted no problem.

The next morning I awoke with a start. There was a noise outside. Someone was near the Jag! I ran outside to find my dad looking sheepish. He’d seen that the Jag had a practical side, so had decided it would be the perfect vehicle to take a couple of long and broken old lamps to, you’ve guessed it, the tip. No long lie-in that day. Still, I earned a bacon sandwich out of it.

By Euan Doig

Week ending November 8
Miles this week: 215
Mileage: 11,650

I’ve mentioned before in these updates that the Sportbrake benefits from having an air sprung, self levelling rear suspension, where the everyday XF saloon has to make do with coil springs.

Jaguar make it quite clear that they have tuned this chassis to match the dynamic attributes of the saloon, and, if they had achieved that, they’d be doing very well indeed, because the saloon is an agile and graceful performer.

To most extents, they have been successful. The Sportbrake feels softer than the saloon, and, if you can put up with a little more roll in corners, or have no congenital dislike of its pronounced bobbing motion when coming to a halt, it’s probably no bad thing. It can occasionally scrape its handsome low air dam on sleeping policeman, but other than that a little softness has proved a good thing.

The ride is always admirable: firm around town, maybe, but not enough to disturb passengers or slow progress. At higher speeds it’s very comfortable indeed, and that is surely part of the Jaguar’s special appeal: sports cars aside, one expects a Jag to ride well.

So, the air suspension helps this heavyweight luxury estate live up to the old maxim that, given sound engineering, what is good for ride should also be good for handling. This one fulfils its dynamic promise by steering delightfully and delivering good grip and then, when that’s all used up, offering surprisingly entertaining handling, and yet it can also transport a heavy load while retaining an even keel. No wonder it ranks highly in our eyes.

By Mark Pearson

Week ending November 1
Miles this Week: 200
Mileage: 11,450

Our Jag is not alone in having an over-efficient stop/start system. Spot a parking space, stop to reverse into it and the engine will cut before you’ve had time to select reverse gear. Re-starting again is admittedly quite quick, but if you have an impatient queue of cars forming behind you it can never be quite quick enough.

This stop/start is all part of the process of achieving (in the hands of our TrueMPG testers, if not actually in mine) 40.8mpg from a luxury estate car that weighs over two tonnes. Even if you accept a figure of 33mpg, which is what I more regularly see, it’s still impressive compared to what Jags of old, or two-tonne estate cars, used to manage.

Many would say the diesel powerplant is the main reason for this improvement, and for some people the combination of reasonably achievable economy and satisfactory speed will compensate for the more obvious drawbacks of running a compression ignition-engined car.

Drawbacks? A gruff and sometimes clattery engine note, a limited power band, that extra weight around the nose, fuel that costs more and stains and smells and will not wash off, not to mention the more pollutant emissions.

Alas if you want a Sportbrake - and why wouldn’t you? – you have no choice, diesel is all they do. Unless of course you can hold on for the XFR-S Sportbrake, prototypes of which have already been spotted, and the saloon version of which we recently tried. That’ll pack a whopping 542bhp from its 5.0 V8, and should be very fast indeed. It’ll also be purely and delightfully petrol-powered, though no word yet on whether it’ll have a stop/start.

By Mark Pearson

Our cars: Jaguar XF Sportbrake - October


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