Jaguar XF Sportbrake R Sport review

The svelte and swoopy Jaguar XF estate shows off its sporty side in R Sport trim

For drivers who want a sporty and elegant estate car, there’s not much to touch the Jaguar XF Sportbrake estate – at least from the style perspective. Picking up where its saloon-car sister model leaves off, the Sportbrake adds a sleek tapering roof and tailgate over a spacious boot that adds practicality to the XF line-up. With 565 or 1,700 litres of boot space depending on whether or not you’ve folded the rear seats, the XF Sportbrake is a thoroughbred with the usefulness of a genuine workhorse.

The XF Sportbrake R Sport is arguably the best-looking member of the ‘mainstream’ end of Jaguar’s biggest estate-car range, so its popularity is no surprise. As with R Sport versions of other models in the Jaguar line-up, it adds a bold and aggressive look, with bespoke body parts and finishes. The Sportbrake R Sport includes a specially designed more assertive front bumper, body-coloured side sills, gloss-black side window surrounds, black roof rails and R Sport badges on the so-called power vents that adorn the XF’s flanks.

Inside, there’s an R Sport badge on the sporty multifunction steering wheel, a dark aluminum dashboard finisher and sports seats trimmed in luxurious perforated grain leather, which are designed to provide more support for driver and passenger while cornering.

The R Sport’s styling cues don’t come with any suspension or performance upgrades, but that won’t bother buyers, as the XF is already one of the best-handling and fun-to-drive estate cars out there. Those who do want to get more serious however, can go for the much pricier XF Sportbrake 300 Sport and XF Sportbrake S models, with uprated suspension and beefier performance.

If those more expensive options are out of range, there are two other XF Sportbrake trim levels pitched close to the Sportbrake R Sport's price. You can spend around £1,800 less for the Prestige entry-level model, or £1,800 more for the Sportbrake Portfolio – the latter coming with an upgraded 350-watt Meridian sound system. As with the XF saloon, all versions are beautifully trimmed and equipped, but they lack the technological edge of German rivals when it comes to infotainment and the ergonomics of their controls.

You can order your R Sport-spec XF Sportbrake with a wide range of engines, starting with the 161bhp Ingenium 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that makes most sense for company-car tax payers due to its CO2 emissions of 134g/km. It comes with manual or automatic transmission, but is only rear-wheel drive. If you want the security of a 4x4 drivetrain, you need to spec up to the 198 or 237bhp versions of the same engine. Petrol enthusiasts have 247 and 296bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder options to choose from.

On the road, the Sportbrake R Sport's performance and handling is all-but-indistinguishable from its saloon-car sister model, although the extra weight of the rear end becomes noticeable if you’re really pressing on. In other words, it’s crisp, agile and has unusually responsive steering for an estate car.

Which brings us back to luggage space, and here all Sportbrake models perform very well against the model's major rivals. The boot is marginally smaller than the BMW 5 Series Touring’s, but noticeably less roomy than the Mercedes E-Class Estate. Features like a power-operated tailgate, and a flat load area with easy-folding rear seats mean the XF Sportbrake is as genuinely practical as it is stylish.

Verdict: 4 / 5

The XF Sportbrake – especially in R Sport trim – is a great-looking, dynamically rewarding and practical workhorse. Efficient diesel engines and a spacious interior and boot impress, but Jaguar is still a bit off the pace when it comes to onboard infotainment technology.

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