JAGUAR XF DIESEL S SPORTBRAKE: DRIVEN
PH doesn't make diesel estates. But if we did...
Trouble is, like a welly boot, most of them just arenít all that exciting. Or werenít.
BMW 5 Series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes E-Class... um... estate, it has one toe in the slightly desolate territory also populated by the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake. Itís also available only as a diesel Ė for now, anyway.
A schlep across Europe is perfect for letting the Jag stretch its legs, first into Belgium and then across northern France. And first impressions donít disappoint. Itís a rakishly handsome car Ė the front end square-jawed and scowling, with an elegant, tapering rear that belies its size. Inside surprise-and-delight touches like the knurled gear selector still Ö surprise and delight despite the novelty being a few years old now and thereís that same feeling of contemporary luxury that you might expect from a swanky London hotel. The touchscreen controlling the majority of the carís functions hasnít had universal praise but, for these digits, seemed instinctive and logical enough.
A quick punt on a Champagne country road reveals the Sportbrake to be a useful thing, if lacking in ultimate sharpness. Thereís a touch more roll than the saloon, too, most likely as a result of the estateís air suspension at the rear, but otherwise the XFís well-controlled. Turn the traction control off and it can let its hair down with bouts of languid oversteer too. Itís no Elise, of course Ė but it isnít designed to be, and the levels of involvement and satisfaction it does offer are plenty enough.
While it might lack the precision of a 5 Series or the ultimate solidity of either of its rival Mercs, the XF Sportbrake is probably 95 per cent as good in any of those respects. But it does have its own trump card, something it does better than any car in its class. It makes you feel special. From the moment you move off to the moment you come to a halt again, the XF provides you with an overwhelming sense of wellbeing. It looks superb, inside and out; itís remarkably well thought through; it drives effortlessly. Yes, itís still a welly boot at heart, but itís one thatís made of calf leather with a sheepskin lining, and at the moment, thereís none thatís quite as satisfying to wear.
JAGUAR XF SPORTBRAKE DIESEL S LUXURY
Engine: 2,993cc V6, twin-turbo diesl
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power (hp): 275@4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 442@2,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.6 sec
Top speed: 155mph
MPG: 46.3mpg (combined)
Price: £44,355 (base)