Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review logo

Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2017
      Body type
      Estate
      Fuel type
      Diesel, Petrol
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Stylish, exciting to drive estate”

Best bits

  • Attractive design
  • Great to drive 
  • Oodles of equipment 

Not so great

  • Dated cabin
  • Higher running costs than its rivals
  • Poor refinement in 2.0-litre diesels

Read by

Jaguar XF Sportbrake frontright

Overall verdict

Jaguar XF Sportbrake frontright interior

On the inside

Jaguar XF Sportbrake right exterior

Driving

Jaguar XF Sportbrake backright exterior

How much does it cost to run

Jaguar XF Sportbrake rightside exterior

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a compelling alternative to an SUV. It has plenty of space, thrilling handling and gorgeous looks. It can’t quite compete with the class-leaders for cabin quality or boot volume, but it's a neatly executed estate that comes loaded with kit. We just wish its diesel engines were a tad more refined in town."

Jaguar XF Sportbrake frontright

Let's face it, Sportbrake is an odd title for a car. It's supposed to sound more dynamic than just a plain old estate, but that's precisely what it is. An elongated version of the Jaguar XF saloon, with a roomier cabin and boot.


Well, perhaps plain is the wrong word. This is a very handsome car indeed, with neatly balanced proportions that a lumbering SUV could only dream of, and the stylish exterior design is definitely a big part of its appeal.


The other major attraction is its brilliant driving experience. It's a big family-friendly car that stops, steers and turns like a much smaller one, with fantastic steering, loads of grip, and yet an impressively supple ride, too.

Our only gripe is with its refinement, as road and engine noise are both louder than its German-built peers.


Despite the swoopy looks, it can match the competition for luggage space, with a well-shaped 565-litre boot that is deep enough to swallow all but the widest cargo, and has plenty of clever touches for load-lugging. It feels even more spacious than the saloon in the back too, with loads of knee room and a much taller roof line.


It can't carry quite as much stuff as the F-Pace off-roader, but with the option of four-wheel drive and a range of punchy diesel engines to choose from, it's a viable alternative for buyers keen to avoid a high-riding SUV.

Fuel economy is about average though, and many of its contemporaries now offer plug-in hybrid alternatives.


That means that for now, the best engine is the 2.0-litre diesel with 180PS. It comes paired up with a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, but doesn't deliver the strongest straight-line performance. You can add all-wheel drive should you need it, and it'll cost less to run than the wonderfully smooth 3.0-litre V6.


Unfortunately, it competes with some incredibly talented luxury estates, including the likes of Audi's A6 Avant,  BMW 5 Series Touring, and Mercedes E-Class Estate, along with classy alternatives such as the Volvo V90.


Most of the cars we've just mentioned feature cutting-edge infotainment systems, impeccably built interiors that are draped in expensive-feeling materials, and a wider choice of engines that will suit company car drivers. If the lowest possible tailpipe emissions are a top priority, then the XF Sportbrake probably isn't the car for you.


Prices for used models are strong, but that means you'll end up paying more for a Jaguar XF than you would for any of its rivals in a similar condition and spec, and we're not sure where that added value comes from. It does come nicely equipped - especially in Portfolio trim - with loads of safety assistance, comfort and luxury features that you would be forced to pay extra for by other brands, but there are some notable omissions too.


For potential owners to fall in love with the XF Sportbrake, they need to accept that its exceptional handling, spacious interior and classy exterior design paper over some fairly major drawbacks. We would urge you to sit in all its rivals to make sure that you could live with the flimsy quality before taking the financial plunge.


A facelift due in 2020 is likely to rectify our issues with the XF's efficiency, infotainment software, and engine options, but for now, it's a charming alternative to the most popular luxury estates, rather than a class-leader.


Is the Jaguar XF right for you?

If you enjoy driving, then the XF Sportbrake is one of the most rewarding estate cars money can buy. It has quick and precise steering that lets you know exactly how much grip is available from the tyres. It handles with a level of agility almost unheard of in cars this size, yet also rides smoothly over bumps in the road.


Few rivals handle as sweetly, but it has some rather large drawbacks. The first is the coarse and laboured 2.0-litre diesel motor. It’s the most popular choice, but lacks the hushed refinement and efficiency of similar engines from competitors. It never feels as strong or responsive as its official figures would have you believe.


It'll still handle a wide range of load-lugging duties, and the boot can match most of its premium rivals. While those travelling in the back will welcome the spacious cabin and comfortable seats, it falls short on build quality. The infotainment system also feels dated compared to the best systems in any number of different estates.

What’s the best Jaguar XF Sportbrake model/engine to choose?

Buyers of large saloons like the XF expect a high standard of equipment from their cars, which means there is no need to mess around adding too many options. All versions come with leather upholstered seats, which are electrically adjustable and heated, all-round parking sensors, a touchscreen sat-nav and cruise control. 


We would plump for the Portfolio model if you can though. Its reversing camera will come in handy when you are trying to navigate around obstacles when parking, and its luxurious electric 'Windsor' leather seats and booming Meridian sound system help lift the ambience in the cabin, yet it's not much more than the R-Sport.


Despite their sub-par refinement, the four-cylinder diesels make the most financial sense. The petrols are far too thirsty, and down on pulling power. Still, we'd avoid the entry-level 2.0d 163, as this feels underpowered. 


Instead, go for the 180PS version. This gives you the option of four-wheel drive should you need it, and feels strong enough to haul the Sportbrake from A-to-B in a brisk fashion, even when it's stacked to the gunnels.

What other cars are similar to the Jaguar XF Sportbrake?

The Sportbrake goes toe-to-toe with the estate versions of the heavy-hitting German saloons. It comes out of the contest pretty bruised too. The 5 Series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and E-Class Estate bring the full might of their respective companies to bear, with advanced on-board technology, mild-hybrid engines and superior quality.


While none of them are as sharp to drive as the XF, we wouldn't blame buyers for picking one of these classy rivals instead. Purely based on their refinement, speed, and in the Mercedes' case, sheer load-lugging ability.


For anyone seeking comfort and chic styling, the Volvo V90 is softer, equally safe and just as well-equipped. It also (like the Audi and Mercedes) comes in a more rugged guise, with raised suspension and underbody protection to appeal to SUV buyers. These add light mud-plugging ability to the premium estate car recipe.


Still, if all you need is a practical estate with loads of toys, a top spec Skoda Superb Estate is worth a look. It may not have the badge, but features a stronger diesel engine, sturdier cabin and a bigger boot than the XF.

Learn more

Jaguar XF Sportbrake frontright interior

On the inside

Jaguar XF Sportbrake right exterior

Driving

Jaguar XF Sportbrake backright exterior

How much does it cost to run

Jaguar XF Sportbrake rightside exterior

Prices, versions and specification