XF Sportbrake 2.2 Diesel Portfolio
trouble with the XF Sportbrake
is that its just so damn easy to get
in and drive effortlessly to wherever
it is that youre
going to and then,
sometime later, climb back in and
drive home again all without a care
in the world...
SO WHY, EXACTLY, would you choose to take a Sportbrake over its ostensibly more
sporting sister, the XF saloon? In a word, an extra dimension: space.
Space for load-lugging. The Sportbrake's boot will swallow a generous 540
litres of luggage (exactly the same as you get in an XF saloon) but pull the
one-touch folding mechanism lever in the boot and voilą, you have an
'active lifestyle' estate with a flat, two-metre long, 1,675-litre loadbay.
Additionally, floor rails are fitted that allow you to fix luggage nets and
load retainers exactly where you want them, and there are rubber (or full waterproof)
liners to keep any mud or water well away from the Jag's plush interior and
at the same time protect it from scuffs and scrapes.
is all diesel; the only choice is power and torque. So what's it to be: 160bhp
& 295lb ft or 197bhp & 332lb ft in-line four-cylinder 2.2-litre units;
or 3.0 V6 engines with 236bhp & 368lb ft or 271bhp & 442lb ft? If you
have a budget then know that you need a minimum of £31,945 in the kitty. With
£51,995 you can take your pick of the range.
customers go for the
which offers decent
in 8.8 seconds)
and pretty good fuel
consumption: our weeks
hard driving saw
Human nature says that almost everybody would want to tick the 271bhp box. Actually,
most ticks go to the 197bhp Sportbrake, which offers decent performance (0-62mph
in 8.8 seconds) combined with pretty good fuel consumption: on paper 54.3mpg
for the combined cycle. We did press on a lot during our week's test, which
accounts for our 42.4mpg average.
"Can do better", my headmaster regularly scrawled across my school reports.
Like me, the Sportbrake can do better; in the Sportbrake's case, drivers with
less sense of urgency will, I'm sure, be able to top our figures. Even so, and
given that this XF estate
packed to the roof as it is with luxury equipment
is no featherweight, and comes as standard with an automatic transmission, 45-ish
is actually not bad at all.
We've been driving the 197bhp version in range-topping Portfolio spec. If you
want one just like it on your drive then you'll need to be bankrolled to the
tune of £44,695. But, really, that's not a lot for a Jag
not when you look at the figures.
In fact, look long and hard at the Sportbrake's figure. You'll like what you
see: the curvy, power-bulged, thrusting XF nose; and that elongated roofline,
flowing out behind the B-pillars like a superhero's cloak. A very handsome cat
So, does that make the Sportbrake too 'glam' to serve as a hard-working family
troop-carrier? Not one bit. Because accommodating the family is what the Sportbrake
does exceedingly well.
As outside, so inside. The Sportbrake's cabin is an affluent place to be. The
mix of traditional leather with hi-tech (airvents that power open and a gear-selector
that rises Star Trek-like out of the centre console when you press the glowing
red Start button) is both well calculated and captivating. You could live with
this cabin for years and never be bored.
in behind the thick-rimmed, leather wrapped three-spoke wheel with multifuncion
controls for the audio (an excellent Meridian 825W surround sound system with
CD and DVD player), phone and cruise. It's also power adjustable for reach and
height with entry and exit tilt-away. Our test Sportbrake's wheel came with
the optional heated rim
first class. Don't leave home without one this winter!
So, is the Sportbrake
too glam to serve
as a hardworking family
Not one bit.
the family is what the
The semi-sporty seats (designed more for comfortable lounging than trackday
blasts, and perfect on long trips) adjust every which way electrically, plus
there's power adjustable lumbar support, easily tiltable headrests for maximum
protection and comfort, and height adjustable seatbelts.
The dials' neat white-on-black graphics are easy to take in at a glance and
the driver's display between them keeps you well informed; scrolling through
the information takes but a light press on the end of the left-hand stalk. Most
used by us was the digital speed readout
in these days of confusing and sometimes deliberately misleading speed limits,
Centre of the fascia is a touchscreen serving the navigation and infotainment.
It's crisp to view and self-explanatory to use. All you need to know, really.
There are plenty of nice touches; one that we particularly like is the post-wipe
extra sweep to mop up any leftover drops. Another much appreciated feature,
for hassle-free night-time driving, is the auto-dimming function of the powerfold
and heated door mirrors.
There really is no tactile substitute for leather upholstery
the Sportbrake's heated softgrain leather front seats are not only especially
nice in that respect, but also come with three-stage cooling that's brilliant
for sticky Brit summers as well as for the times you're stuck in slow moving
With all the power adjustable comfort aids, you can set your perfect driving
position in seconds. Then you can store it in the two-setting memory that also
recalls your personal door mirror and steering wheel settings. In addition to
a fine driving position, it's also easy to see the top of the bonnet and the
front wings, which makes the Sportbrake easy to place at speed as well as easy
seat passengers are perhaps the biggest winners with the Sportbrake thanks to
its extra (over the XF saloon) 48mm of headroom. They also benefit when it comes
to a view of the world as it glides past their long windows.
Back seat passengers
are perhaps the biggest
winners with the
Sportbrake thanks to its
extra 48mm of headroom
(over the XF saloon).
They also benefit when
it comes to a view
of the world
as it glides past their
They also sit lower than those in front but the angle of the backrests is good,
plus there's lots of room for feet as well as plenty of leg and head room, even
for three grown-ups. A nicely padded centre armrest makes it a very clubby sanctuary
most important thing when you're carrying is that the load behind you stays
level. No problem
the XF Sportbrake, while offering a similar character to the XF saloon, gets
self-levelling suspension with air springs at the rear (the saloon uses coil
springs and dampers).
Helped by a large tailgate (power opening and closing, naturally) loading access
is fine, whether you're putting things in or taking them out. Making matters
even easier, the luggage roller blind can be run up the inner tailgate frame
instead of retracting horizontally if you only need to access the rear of the
boot. And, as mentioned earlier, using the rail system, the boot can be compartmentalised
to prevent cargo or cases sliding about. When not required it can be dismanteld
in seconds and stored under the boot floor.
'Active' owners can extend the Sportbrake's core versatility with a wide choice
of sports and leisure accessories, from dedicated roof carriers for cycles,
skis, snowboards and watersports equipment to roof boxes tailored for holding
either luggage or sports gear. You can even tow trailers up to 1,850kg (braked)
so much smarter, don't you think, to pull a caravan with a Jaguar than the usual
If you plan on doing some caravanning you'll be reassured by the Sportbrake's
class win in this year's Tow Car Awards, where it earned a special commendation
for the effectiveness of its Sway Mitigation system. And while we're talking
tow bars, a cycle carrier is available for mounting behind the tailgate.
Whatever your driving style or requirements, the slick-shifting eight-speed
ZF autobox's mission in life could be to make sure the four-cylinder turbodiesel
is rarely stressed
while the engine is red-lined at 4,200rpm, eighth gear calls for a nonchalant
1,700rpm to deliver 70mph cruising.
Sportbrake's handling can honestly be described as 'very well mannered'; even
with your family on board you can make good use of its pace without triggering
requests to 'slow down' from the rear seats.
Even with your family
on board you can make
good use of the
slow down from the
the DSC button on the JaguarDrive panel lets you 'up' the Sportbrake driving
experience. Technically it optimises the stability control settings for maximum
traction in difficult conditions; effectively it enables a more focused and
involving driving experience.
the Dynamic setting instead (identified, rather appropriately, by a small chequered
flag on the switch) and you'll immediately feel the Sportbrake 'tighten up'
as the adaptive dampers prepare for a good workout, keeping the car flatter
and more composed especially when cleaving through tight bends or a series of
Stay in Dynamic and also select Sport on the gear selector and you'll get as
close to a manual as is possible without physically swopping the ZF autobox
for a stick-shift manual. Set thus, changes up and down the scale are by the
paddle-shifters on the wheel, with every ratio held unflinchingly to the rev
limit with no automatic gearchange when you hit the red-line.
At the other end of the scale, with JaguarDrive in its default setting, using
the paddles for the occasional burst of rapid acceleration (or engine braking)
is fine. Consider it a finger-operated kick-down that doesn't kick back up until
you've finished with it. Unless you continue using the paddles, the transmission
reverts back to automatic changing. So, something for every mood or road condition.
Despite all the extra weight stacked aft of the estate's front seats, the rear-wheel
drive Sportbrake steers much the same as the saloon
you do get a sense of what's happening under the front tyres. More than you
might have expected, and enough to help it feel as reassuringly wieldy as the
The Sportbrake rides well, even unladen. Potholed roads and poorly repaired
tarmacadam are shrugged off almost disdainfully, even riding on the 19-inch
alloys shod with 245/40 Dunlop rubber. The fluent suspension is also a key factor
in its overall refinement and everyone aboard benefits from its composure. Good
news too is the braking; with either a heavy load or the family occupying all
five seats, the brakes (ventilated discs front and rear) are strong
stopping hard won't raise your pulse any.
Overall the Sportbrake is a classic Coventry Cat: involving to drive with smoothly
delivered performance, all made better by a mile-minimising refinement. No wonder
you can take it for granted and just get in and drive. Anywhere.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2.2 Diesel Portfolio
Top speed: 134mph | 0-62mph: 8.8 seconds | Average Test MPG: 42.4mpg
Power: 197bhp | Torque: 332lb ft | CO2 139g/km