By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
With the rush to introduce more Crossovers to fill the U.S market’s thirst for the wagon-style vehicles, there has been an increased flow of the utilitarian vehicles and with variations on the designs.
Wagons are Back
Stalwarts of one the largest variation groupings is the wagon-style vehicles like the Subaru Outback, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon, Volvo V60, Volkswagen Sportwagen and Audi A4 Allroad. Those have been joined by others like the Mini Clubman, Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, Buick Regal TourX and several others that teeter between wagon and crossover. Even Ferrari has a wagon-like vehicle, the FF. Brand new in the category and quite exciting is the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake.
What’s a Sportbrake?
The Sportbrake name is derived from the Shooting-Brake, which was a vehicle conceived sometime before World War II, according to Wikipedia, “to take gentlemen on the hunt with their firearms and dogs.”
Putting the Sportbrake to Good Use
Without guns or dogs, we drove the Jag Sportbrake all-wheel drive for a week on our home turf making trips for shopping and going on a drive through the Columbia River Gorge and into the Cascade Mountains to the east of us. We even tried using it for something close to what the name implies. We went to our favorite feed store and picked up a 50-pound bag of black oil sunflower seeds and a new deer block (dense block of grains and corn used to feed deer.) Our back yard has become something of a neighborhood café for small herd of deer, squirrels, rabbits and a family of racoons along with more than a half-dozen varieties of birds. The Jaguar Sportbrake was perfect for this task with it easy to access cargo area.
A Nice Adaptation from the XF Sedan
The XF Sportbrake is based on the mid-level Jaguar XF sedan, which we’ve always enjoyed driving in the past. Like the sedan, the Sportbrake is good-looking, quick, comfortable and very satisfying to drive, especially on the winding mountain roads.
One AWD Version
The Sportbrake comes in only two AWD trim levels, the “S” and a First Edition version. The First Edition is in Farallon Black color and includes an exclusive gesture-controlled sunblind that opens or closes with a simple swipe of the hand forward or rearward in the space behind the interior rear-view mirror. The button-free technology makes operation simple, logical and distraction-free for drivers.
Supercharged V6 Power
The engine is the same powerful 380 hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that powers the sedan. It is mated to a smooth eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The Jaguar AWD system is designed to minimize understeer and electronic interventions that typically characterize dynamic driving in all-wheel drive models. This allows it to maintain a rear-wheel drive bias with a precise and agile steering response. The Supercharged V6 propels the Sportbrake from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. We averaged 22.3 mpg during our week in the Sportbrake.
Lightweight Aluminum Body
The XF Sportbrake uses a lightweight aluminum-intensive body construction. This allowed engineers to make the car both stiffer and lighter. The tailgate is a lightweight single-piece polymer. The weight saving construction has allowed the engineers to keep the weight distribution at a near perfect 50:50 front-to-rear balance.
The aerodynamic efficiency of the Sportbrake is a low 0.29 Cd (compared to the sedan’s 0.28 Cd), which not only adds to it’s fuel economy efficiency, but helps maintain a quiet cabin with low wind noise.
The Sportbrake cargo area is 31.7 cubic feet, or nearly twice what the sedan holds. With the rear seat backs folded the load space grows to an adjustable space that goes to as much as 69.7 cubic feet when all three sections of the second row 40:20:40 split fold seat back are lowered.
Sleek Styling and LED Headlights
The Sportbrake styling in the front, including full LED headlamps, is just like the sedan, but toward the rear it takes on a whole fresh look with a long and low stance.
Good Visibility and Driver Assistance
We like the sleek roofline of the Sportback, it sets it apart from the hordes of SUVs and crossovers filling the roads. Narrow roof pillars make visibility better than many wagon style vehicles, plus our test Jag had the optional ($3,495) Driver Assistance Package which added the technologies to enhance driver confidence. The package includes Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assists, Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring and Reverse Traffic Detection plus a sophisticated Park Assist.
The 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S AWD has a base price of $71,445, including the destination charge. In addition to the Driver Assistance Package our test car had the optional Black Exterior Package, Firenze Red metallic paint, Comfort and Convenience Package, Premium Interior Upgrade and 20-inch black finish wheels bringing the bottom line price to $84,815.
Should you find yourself coveting a luxury wagon to carry your dogs and guns, or merely big bargains from Costco, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a stylish and distinctive way to travel.