Dare to be different in the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, a fancy name for a sporty wagon.
The humble station wagon is a class of vehicles that I could not have cared less about, especially when they were slow and bland. Then about five years ago, Mercedes and Cadillac changed my view forever with souped-up versions.
By adding big power and a more serious look, manufacturers proved that you could have a fun family hauler that really hauled. But the Cadillac is no longer. Lucky for us, Jaguar has stepped up with its own sporty wagon.
The midsize Jaguar XF has been around for nearly eight years now. Last year, they added a new version of the XF called the Sportbrake, a stylish wagon, or I should call it an “Estate” since that’s what the British call the station wagon. This is a worthy alternative to a crossover. It still has plenty of space and it’s a bit easier to get in and out. You don’t have to lift heavy things up as high to put them in the power liftgate, either.
This is a Jaguar, so expect a well-finished cabin. It seems even nicer since the last XF refresh. Heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats are part of a Comfort and Convenience package. The package also adds soft door closers, so it will finish closing the doors all the way for you.
The interior color was different — a light Oyster color with Ebony inserts on the seats and door panels that worked very well together. Back seat riders have good headroom and adequate leg room on average. Cargo space is really good and is comparable to many similar size crossovers. The aluminum and carbon fiber trim pieces add a modern touch to the interior.
The suede headliner adds a touch of luxury, and it highlights the huge, but fixed, panoramic roof. My car also came with a larger, 10-inch touchscreen and NAV, but they aren’t as good to use as some of the luxury cars I’ve driven lately. The system was a bit slow to respond at times.
“Stylish” and “wagon” aren’t usually used together, but the Jaguar Sportbrake S AWD will help change your mind. Jaguar has made the wagon cool again with a modern style that I think looks even better than the handsome XF sedan. The blacked-out front grill and S body kit add a sport wagon look. It looks a bit meaner and lower to the ground. There is even a large tailgate spoiler. The look is really finished well with the large 20-inch wheels.
This is one sporty-looking wagon that just needs some darker tinted rear windows to complete a more sinister, cool look. The XF also has lots of glass, so you and passengers will be able to see out of the car. It checks the sensible vehicle box with roof rails for added cargo space.
This is going to sound strange to some, but the Jaguar XF Sportbrake S is fun to drive. For a big price of nearly $84,200 after almost $14,000 in extras, the XF Sportbrake has a 380 horsepower-supercharged V6. This is a quick ride, and it sounds good when it’s in full song. A slick-shifting, eight-speed automatic helped me beat the sticker, getting 23 mpg instead of the listed 21 mpg.
While the big Jag moves quickly, the AWD system keeps it planted to the road on dry and wet pavement. It seems to help with confident handling, as well. This wagon can handle the road when it’s thrown some curves. Thanks to Adaptive Dynamics, you choose the type of suspension and response you want. It ranges from ECO to Sport, which tightens up the car for a sportier ride.
Still, this XF Sportbrake is happy cruising and being an everyday comfortable car. The Jaguar comes with air suspension, so most of the bumps aren’t really transmitted into the cabin. There is also adaptive cruise and traffic sign recognition, which are nice to have in unfamiliar areas. There is blind spot warning and other safety gear you would expect, plus the car will park and pull out of spots for you. I’d really like a Supercharged V8 version with 500+ horsepower, but I’m sure it would be very pricey.
If you want a new car that you won’t see on every block, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake S AWD is the ride you have been waiting for. It has plenty of space for the family that’s wrapped in a stylish package. The XF Sportbrake is not a crossover; it’s a cool wagon that’s won me over.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by DriveShop, FMI or Motus One for the purpose of this review.
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