By Car & Driving
The XF Sportbrake is Jaguar's answer to the BMW 5-series, Audi A6 and Mercedes E-class estates. Introduced in 2012 with a range of powerful, yet efficient petrol and diesel engines, this stylish premium executive station wagon hoped to emulate the popularity of the brand's XF saloon, with an engaging ride, surefooted handling and competitive performance. Everything that made the saloon popular remains here. As a result, the quirky, stylish interior, impressive handling, comfortable ride and luxurious interior make the Sportbrake an interesting used car alternative to its tough German rivals. The Sportbrake also offers a strong engine line-up, with frugal diesel units at the bottom of the range and fire-spitting supercharged petrol V8s at the top. This means that this XF appeals to a wide audience.
Mid-size estate 5dr (2.2d [163 or 200PS], 3.0d V6, 3.0d V6 S, 5.0 V8) [Standard, Luxury, R-Sport, Premium Luxury, Portfolio and S versions of Luxury, Premium Luxury and Portfolio]
The XF saloon, released in 2007, marked a turning point in Jaguar's fortunes but it wasn't until a year after the brand facelifted this car in 2011 that it released the Sportbrake estate version we look at here. Just like the saloon, the estate XF prioritised sporty looks over outright space and even in basic spec, it looks fantastic. It may not be class-leading in terms of outright performance and the cabin is starting to look a little dated by comparison with some rivals, but the Sportbrake blends luxury, performance, handling, ride quality and efficiency like no other. It's definitely the driver's choice in the mid-size premium executive estate market.
What You Get
This Sportbrake design is entirely different from its saloon stablemate from the B-pillar backwards, the contrast between the two bodyshapes amplified by the tautly-drawn elegance of the side window line, the flowing rear window graphic and the rising waist. It all lends this car a dynamic, broad-shouldered stance, with a feeling of fluidity heightened by the use of gloss black finishers on the rear pillars and a darkly-tinted rear screen. This emphasises the so-called 'floating roof' and provides a wrap-around effect that's similar, Jaguar reckons, to the superstructures of luxury yachts.
But when the optional powered tailgate glides up, will you find it to be practical as well as pretty? At first glance, there's reason to doubt. After all, the wheelbase of this car is just the same as that of the saloon and the 550-litre boot is pretty much the same too. To be fair, that's pretty comparable with the space you'd get in a BMW 5 Series Touring, an Audi A6 Avant or a Volvo V70. Only Mercedes' E-Class estate can offer appreciably more. Anyway, that figure only applies to the amount of space you get under the smart tonneau cover. Dispense with that with a view to loading up above the window line and there's plenty more room on offer, even before you think of operating the neat remote-fold levers that are positioned just inside the tailgate. Tug on these to collapse the 60/40 split-folding rear backrest and you'll find 1675-litres on offer and nearly two metres of total loading length. Thanks to the standard self-levelling air suspension, weightier objects can easily be carried too.
As importantly, you can make good use of all this space if you find yourself a car fitted with optional loadspace rail attachments that keep everything in place. Other useful optional features you might find include things like a semi-rigid load tray, a waterproof loadspace liner and a luggage guard to stop animals and packages flying forward under braking. We should also point out that there's additional underfloor space to keep valuables away from prying eyes. And even neat recesses in the side trim, hidden behind mesh fronts that provide extra room and will enable awkward loads to be stowed securely across the width of the boot. So you'll be able to store your golfclub bag sideways for example. Criticisms? There aren't too many. It would be nice to have a compartment to store the tonneau cover in when you aren't using it. Oh and the folded loadfloor is slightly uneven. That's about it.
Get to the consideration of people rather than packages and you'll find that the estate practicality continues. In creating this bodystyle, the development team took the opportunity of correcting perhaps the biggest design drawback of the saloon XF model - namely its restricted rear headroom. The Sportback's higher roofline makes it easier to get in to the back and once you're installed in beautifully trimmed leather, you'll find that there's another 48mm of headroom. As ever though, the prominent transmission tunnel means that there's only really comfortable room for two adults.
At the wheel of course, this variant is identical to any other XF. So the auto gear selector still rises into the palm of your hand on start-up as the dashboard airvents acrobatically turn into position to greet you as you fire the ignition. Button clutter has been kept to a minimum by grouping many of the key functions on a central 7-inch touch screen - which to be honest, I don't find very intuitive to use. But what I do like is the sheer feeling of class you get in this cabin.
From the stitched leather dashboard and door cappings to the aluminium and wood furnishings, it really does feel special, the craftsmanship, materials and attention to detail all good enough to exceed your expectations. Jaguar's designers have sought to find more interesting ways to say 'luxury', and largely, their efforts have worked. The lines are clean and pure, the materials are familiar, but with a very modern flavour - from soft-grained leathers to real wood veneers with a bold, contemporary spin. Even the phosphor blue interior lighting has its own mood.
What You Pay
Please contact us for an exact up-to-date valuation.
What to Look For
Although Jaguar won many awards with the XF and had very high customer satisfaction scores, there are a few known issues to look out for. One of the most serious is that some owners have reported the bonnet airbags being triggered by speed bumps and costing around £3,000 to replace. Owners of the V6 diesel are advised by Jaguar to steer clear of diesel with 20% or more bio content. However, some have reported issues including starting problems when running on diesel with 6% bio. The quick clear windscreens wiring can interfere with signals in the car between GPS and satellite. Another thing to consider is that in the 2014 Which? Car survey, the XF Sportbrake was the least reliable new luxury car with an 85.7% rating.
Despite the numerous issues some owners have reported, the Sportbrake is likely to be a reliable and good value car. Residuals are better than rivals and though running costs might be a little higher thanks to slightly less efficient engines, the XF won't cost any more in the long run.
The price of replacement parts for the Sportbrake depends on the model chosen. The four-cylinder diesel cars will obviously have some cheaper parts than the XFR-S with its 5.0-litre supercharged V8. A pair of front brake discs and pads for a 2.2d Sportbrake will cost around £120 for the parts only. However, if you take advantage of Jaguar's 3+ fixed price servicing (for cars three years or older), the price including labour is just £295.
On the Road
The Sportbrake bodystyle does bring with it a small weight penalty, but the suspension tweaks compensating for the increased weight and extra load carrying ability improve this XF's ride and make it smoother and more cosseting than the saloon. Performance like for like is only slighter slower and estate car buyers make these trade offs for the increased practicality. Over rough roads or smooth motorways, the ride remains composed and the balance of the front engine/rear drive layout is excellent, making the XF one of the most enjoyable drives in its segment. Jaguar's Adaptive Dynamics set-up is a system that monitors and analyses steering, speed and body movement 500 times per second to ensure the electronic dampers are providing the optimum suspension in all conditions.
As expected, the more powerful models are the most enjoyable to drive. The 2.2 diesel feels a little sluggish pulling such a big car but it deals well with motorway journeys by being refined, quiet and efficient. The 3.0-litre diesel offers a useful amount more power and torque and the six cylinder unit suits the personality of the car much better. Unfortunately though, it's not only quite a bit less efficient than the smaller engine, it's less efficient than most rivals. The king of the range, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the XFR-S. It may be mad in saloon form, but there's something appealingly crazy about a big, practical, luxury estate with a 550PS supercharged 5.0-litre V8. The engine is only one part of a very exciting package though; bigger, more powerful brakes feature, along with uprated suspension. The exterior looks aggressive and wild, yet its lines are still sleek and elegant and even today, the design looks fresh - especially from the front. Inside, the luxury and comfort remain and are now accompanied by a firmer, sportier ride, an aggressive, if not particularly loud exhaust noise and an entirely new sensation of speed. 0-62mph takes as little as 4.6sec and the XFR-S will top out at an insane 186mph. The 5.0-litre unit is starting to feel a little long in the tooth as rivals downsize and opt for turbocharging, but it still packs as strong a punch as any rival and never leaves you wanting for performance.
If you're in the market for a used luxury estate and would rather forgo a few litres of space for elegant, sporty looks and a fantastic ride and handling balance, the first generation XF Sportbrake could be the car for you. It's perhaps a more individual choice than the Germans and the reliability issues are something to keep in mind, but it will perform every bit as well as its rivals in everyday driving, will put a smile on your face and has great residuals.
Overall, an impressive all-round machine that has a broader focus than some rivals and definite appeal as a used buy.
By Andy Enright
The Jaguar XF is one of those cars that quietly goes about its business, doing very well for its manufacturer, seemingly content to let other big executive cars hog the limelight. No, it doesn't sell in anything like the numbers of a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes E-Class and while Jaguar would like it to, they're secretly delighted at the reception it's got here and abroad. The original XF wowed the crowds when it was launched back in 2007 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Well, it wowed about 90% of the crowds, the other 10% grumbling that it looked like a big Mondeo. Getting away from a hidebound design language was kind of the point of that original XF. It could look like anything vaguely good-looking as long as there was nothing of the old-school about it. If you couldn't picture Arthur Daley sitting in one, it was a winner. Here's what to look for when buying one of the post-2011 facelift models.
4dr saloon, 5dr estate (2.2 petrol, 3.0, 5.0 petrol [SE, SE Business, Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Portfolio, R-Sport, R-Sport Black, XFR, XFR-S])
The XF had a facelift? Who knew? Perhaps Jaguar could have been a bit more effusive about the changes to the XF, but they were probably getting a bit giddy about getting ready to launch their F-TYPE sports car and perhaps overlooked this big seller as a result. Nevertheless, in September 2011 we got the restyled Jag XF, with a new bonnet, front and rear lights and bumpers, front wings and improvements to the interior switchgear, the navigation system and seats.
Not long afterwards, in January 2012, Jaguar launched an entry-level diesel version, the 163PS 2.2-litre model offering a more affordable gateway to XF ownership than its 190PS siblings. In September of that year, there was some more fine-tuning of the range, with the XFR Sport Pack derivative being announced. A more significant entrant was the Sportbrake estate model, which added much-needed breadth to the XF line-up. The monster XFR-S was announced in 2013, with the Sportbrake version arriving in Spring 2014.
Jaguar announced a run-out special in the shape of the R-Sport Black model at the start of 2015. This featured 20" Black Kalimnos alloy wheels and a 770w Meridian Surround Sound system, the brand claiming that the R-Sport Black offered an additional £8,770 worth of value over standard R-Sport models for just a £2,100 increase to its price. The successor to the XF was first teased in 2014, with an official unveiling at the 2015 New York Show.
What You Get
The original XF was a beautiful piece of styling, a shape you'd be frightened to aesthetically fiddle with. But Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum wasn't and somehow, the improvements made to this revised version manage to create a far more eye-catching interpretation of the 2007 C-XF concept car - the model that the whole XF concept was originally based upon. Post-2011 facelifted XFs got the kind of front end many owners might like to have seen from the beginning, with a redesigned grille, a sculpted bonnet, streamlined wings and, most notably, bi-function HID xenon headlamps resembling those of the larger XJ saloon, complete with jewel-like LED daytime running lights arranged in a 'J' pattern. Wander past the Aston Martin-style side vents in the wings and you'll find that there are LEDs at the rear too, these extending further into the bootlid beneath the signature chrome strip.
Inside, not much being wrong with the original design of this car, there wasn't a great deal for the facelifted version to fix. The auto gear selector still rises into the palm of your hand on start up as the dashboard airvents acrobatically turn into position to greet you as you fire the ignition. Only those very familiar with the original model will recognise the more supportive seats, the smarter satin-feel switches and the classier graphics on the central 7-inch touch screen that looks after most of the main dashboard functions. Relax inside an XF and from the stitched leather dashboard and door cappings to the aluminium and wood furnishings, it really does feel special. The craftsmanship, materials and attention to detail all impress. Jaguar's designers have sought to find more interesting ways to say 'luxury', and largely, their efforts have worked. The lines are clean and pure, the materials are familiar, but with a very modern flavour - from soft-grained leathers to real wood veneers with a bold, contemporary spin. Even the phosphor blue interior lighting has its own mood.
Unfortunately, it would have taken more than a mid-life facelift to free up any extra space at the rear. The coupe-like styling tells here. Once you get inside though, there's slightly more space than the flowing exterior lines might lead you to expect, even if boxier rivals can do better. The prominent transmission tunnel means that there's only really room for two adults but headroom might be a slight problem for the tallest occupants. Jaguar is unapologetic on this front, pointing out the undeniable fact that for most potential owners, as long as rear seat room is adequate, then luggage space and sporty styling represent higher priorities.
Just as well then, that there is a reasonable amount of boot space at 500-litres, even if that figure can't quite match that offered by obvious rivals. If it isn't enough, then you can at least push forward the rear seat backs to extend the luggage bay out to 923-litres.
What You Pay
Please contact us for an exact up-to-date valuation.
What to Look For
In contrast to earlier generations of Jaguar cars which had their fair share of niggling faults, the XF has suffered no major problems, which is great news for used buyers. The usual cautions still apply though: stick to main dealers or reputable specialists and don't be tempted by a potential bargain car that doesn't have its service history present and correct. The XF's wheels are rather prone to kerbing, so check that they haven't been too badly scuffed and check for stone chipping especially on models that have covered higher miles.
(approx based on a 2009 Jaguar XFR) A full exhaust system (without catalyst) is around £850. Front shock absorbers are about £200 a pair. An alternator is about £300 and a starter motor around £300. Front brake pads are around £120.
On the Road
Executive sector customers often buy their cars based on their balance sheet performance. Few though, will select an XF that way. Here's a car you choose for the way it makes you feel at the wheel - before indeed you've even gone anywhere. If you haven't tried one before, join us for a taste of the Jaguar experience.
You get in and on entry, the start button pulses red, like a heartbeat. Prod it to start and the JaguarDrive auto gearbox selector rises into the palm of your hand while rotating air conditioning vents somersault into action. It's quite a performance - and you never tire of admiring it.
At the same time though, as you first set off, there's a nagging doubt of style over substance. Most used examples you'll come across will feature a 2.2-litre diesel beneath the bonnet, an engine introduced as the key change with the 2011 XF facelift. This PSA Group/Ford-derived unit had previously been more commonly seen in cars from the next class down - Ford Mondeos, Citroen C5s and Peugeot 508s. Could it really ever be classy enough to power such a quintessential Jaguar? And could it properly propel a 1.7-tonne executive saloon? Jaguar always maintained that this unit was well up to the task - and emphasised the point with this facelifted model via a considerable programme of re-fettling which included low friction pistons, a new camshaft and a water-cooled turbo, plus copious soundproofing to try and achieve the kind of silent running that customers of the Coventry brand will expect.
The 190PS result is quite something. A car as fast - and as quiet - as the original 2.7-litre V6 XF diesel, yet capable of running 15 further miles on every gallon and with CO2 figures in a different league. At no point on the move in this Jaguar does it occur to you that there are only four cylinders under the bonnet. Which means that the price of progress here has a very pleasant ring to it indeed. Twist the gear selector to 'S' for a more dynamic demeanour and sixty from rest in this 2.2D model occupies eight seconds dead on the way to a top speed of 140mph, drive through the rear wheels being via a ZF automatic gearbox (the only transmission option) with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters controlling no fewer than eight speeds.
Are all those ratios really necessary in a car with a prodigious 450Nm of torque? Probably not, and there are times, when accelerating hard with the engine labouring under the weight of the heavy bodyshell, that the gearbox swaps cogs a little more frequently than you'd like for really relaxed progress. So seamless and silky-smooth are the changes though, that most won't really mind. The few that do still have the option to select either of the 3.0-litre V6 diesels that were carried forward from the pre-facelift version of this car, these developing either 240 or 270PS. In the faster of the two, sixty from rest will detain you for just 5.9s on the way to a top speed that has to be artificially limited at 155mph. Which makes it hard to understand why anyone would want to opt for the rare normally aspirated 385PS 5.0-litre petrol V8 XF derivative, even if they couldn't be bothered with Benefit-in-Kind taxation.
Where this big V8 does make some sort of sense is in the flagship XFR super-saloon where a supercharger boosts its output to 510PS to take on such as BMW's M5 and Mercedes' E63 AMG. These cars are faster, but they don't have this Jaguar's brilliant balance of sharp handling and cosseting ride. No other car in the Executive sector does and it's an attribute just as evident in the 2.2-litre diesel. Actually, come to think of it, this variant is even better in that respect. Because it gets the smallest and lightest XF engine, the front end is lighter too - which makes this particular model feel especially agile on twistier roads. There's optional adaptive damping but you don't really need it: you're as comfortable in this car pushing on in a B-road blast as you will be soaking up the motorway miles.
The Jaguar XF is one of the more interesting choices in the executive car sector and it seems much more appealing in post-2011 facelifted guise. One look at used prices will demonstrate the esteem the trade holds these cars in, so if you're expecting a car with all the handling of a BMW 5 Series for Ford Mondeo money, you might come away a bit crestfallen. The 2.2-litre diesels will be the default pick for most people but the XF-R and XFR-S models could be where the bargain hunters look first.