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Jag’s XF Sportbrake is the great estate 

JAGUAR has a stylish stable of cars at the mo-ment and the latest edition is one which wouldn’t have seemed possible some years back – a diesel-engined estate!
But with engine and design standards improving so much this new arrival is by no means out of place in the family line-up.
The XF Sportbrake is the estate version of the XF saloon – and it might just edge it on looks.
I wasn’t quite brain-washed by Adam Hatton, one of Ian Callum’s chief designers, when he took me round a tour of the car at the model’s launch.
You appreciate the work and skills of the design team when you look at the metal more closely.
Adam spoke about spending every day in the studio perfecting the curves on the Sportbrake from the B pillar backwards – and the team appears to have done just that.
The flowing lines travel round the car to make it an exceedingly fine estate.
Yet, they have still managed to make it practical – with a flat load area and flat sides boot of 550litres – extending to 1675litres when the rear seats are folded in one easy touch.
The extended roofline also affords rear-seat passengers an extra 48mm headroom.
There is no doubting the top quality of the Sportbrake’s exterior and that extends to the interior which has the same plush finish as saloon versions.
In fact, unlike other premium manufacturers, Jaguar includes the high-grade materials in the boot area.
The Sportbrake is available with a powerful and efficient range of four and six cylinder turbo-diesel engines – a 2.2 with either 161bhp or 197bhp and a 3.0 V6 with 237bhp or 271bhp.
The power comes through an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox and my first drive was in the more powerful 2.2 engined version.
With a time of 8.2 seconds from zero to 60mph and a top speed of 134mph, there was plenty of oomph in this model when required and it was delivered smoothly or rapidly when needed.
The Sportbrake has rear air suspension which allows for self-levelling while load carrying – with no dynamic penalty.
Journalist don’t normally get a chance to check this out on launches but Jaguar took us to a race circuit to put it to the test – with and without a Smeg fridge in the load area.
There was little difference in the handling of the car – a 3.0 271bhp version – when loaded or unloaded.
The Sportbrake also has an adaptive dynamics system which continuously monitors the suspension and adjusts damping rates.
This is pretty effective as the car, while driving at speeds beyond what you would consider doing on normal roads, never flinched while hard cornering or even slaloming between cones at 55mph.
I returned to road driving in this model and it was a dream to drive, offering a super acceleration sprint time of 6.1 seconds to reach 60mph and boasting a limited top speed of 155mph.
It was ever so quiet and comfortable on country roads, motorway and in city centre driving.
The Sportbrake is priced from £31,940 to £51,505, and reaches out to new customers who need extra space occasionally.
It’s a stylish estate car that drives brilliantly and is practical – but is still a very true Jaguar.