Geneva 2012: Jaguar XF Sportbrake

* Jaguar XF Sportbrake estate revealed * On sale in October * Prices from around 33,000...

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What Car? Staff
06 March 2012

Geneva 2012: Jaguar XF Sportbrake

This is the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, which has made its debut at the Geneva motor show 2012. It will go on sale in October.

The XF Sportbrake gives Jaguar a much-needed rival to cars such as the Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Its an estate version of the XF saloon, with a bias towards style rather than outright practicality.

See also: All Geneva motor show 2012 news

The XF Sportbrake offers 550 litres of boot space with the seats up and up to 1675 litres when the seats are folded, which is more than you get in an Audi A6 Avant or a BMW 5 Series Touring.

We inspected the XF Sportbrake at an exclusive preview and can confirm the boot is a good, square shape, with no awkward load lip to heave luggage over. Levers inside the opening let you drop the rear seats without having to walk around to the side of the car.

Unlike the seats in its German rivals, the Sportbrakes lie completely flat when folded. It's just a pity the boot is a little shallow when the seats are up and the load cover is in place.

Five key facts
• It's the second estate in Jaguars history, after the X-type
• There are 2.2 and 3.0 diesel engines
• Standard self-levelling rear suspension
• Optional powered tailgate
• Rear seats fold flat

Aside from its more practical rear end and a slight increase in rear headroom, due to its flatter roofline the Sportbrake is much like the saloon on the inside. That means theres space for four six-footers, and numerous smart touches, including electrically opening air vents and a disc-shaped gear selector that rises out of the centre console.

The news isnt all good, though, because some of the plastics feel a little cheap compared with those in the A6 and 5 Series, and the touch-screen infotainment system is fiddly to use.

In saloon form, the XF is one of the best executive cars to drive, and the Sportbrake promises to be every bit as good because Jaguar claims that it matches the saloons aerodynamics and body rigidity.

In addition, Jaguar has swapped the saloons conventional rear suspension for air suspension that ensures the car remains level even when its heavily loaded.

Sportbrake buyers will be able to choose between 2.2-litre four-cylinder and 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engines, but Jaguar says it has no plans to offer a high performance XFR V8 petrol model.

What it will offer is an Aero Pack that brings a rear spoiler, deeper bumpers and beefed up sills, and a Black Pack that replaces the exterior chrome with gloss black trim and pairs this with similarly finished alloys.

Jaguar is yet to confirm prices, but wed expect a Sportbrake to cost around 2000 more than the equivalent XF saloon. That means a likely starting point of around 33,000, which is in line with its key rivals.

Steve Huntingford