2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S AWD Review

No one will accuse this wagon of being boring


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Makes wagons sexy again, serious power under the hood, excellent handling and steering
Negatives: Second row is cramped, interior could be more special, infotainment system has hiccups
Bottom Line: The XF Sportbrake is less about family practicality and more about a performance four-door that happens to be a station wagon. Sure, it hauls more than a sedan, but this beast is better as a street carver. It makes family transportation fun and fast.
If there was any evidence that wagons were a dying segment, Jaguar certainly hasn't heard about it. The XF Sportbrake is new to Jaguar but takes the sport-luxury sedan and makes it even more family-friendly. It quite literally is the only sport-luxury wagon in its price range, pricier than the outgoing BMW 3-Series Sports wagon and more affordable than the Mercedes-Benz E AMG E 63 S wagon. We were thrilled to get behind the wheel and drove it for a week to write the following review. Read the vital details ahead.
 

Driving Experience

9

 

Anyone who thinks wagons are dowdy and boring haven't been behind the wheel of this cat. The XF Sportbrake S is truly thrilling to drive.

Ride Quality: The ride is firm with the fat tires, big diameter wheels and sport-tuned suspension, but it's compliant enough to be daily comfortable.

Acceleration: This thing pulls like a freight train. 0-60 comes in a little over five seconds, and doesn't even feel like you're trying at 90 mph. It could use a snappier transmission, however. Engine note is intoxicating, almost as much as the F-Type.

Braking: Brakes are strong and progressive, and pedal feel is very good.

Steering: The steering is nicely on center, and turn in is quick. The steering wheel has just the right amount of effort, too.

Handling: Its cornering is taut, and body roll is scant. The brake-based torque vectoring keeps the heavy car in check very well.

Technology

7.7

 

Jaguar's in-car tech isn't up there with the likes of Audi or Genesis, but the much-improved InControl system not only looks better, it's easier to use and the functionality is eons better than the old one.

Infotainment System: The InControl Touch multimedia system works pretty well. The 8” touchscreen with intuitive touch and swipe controls handles audio, climate and navigation. It's a bit slow at times, but works decently.

Controls: Well-sized buttons and knobs that are easy to reach in the center stack.

Styling

9.8

 

We're admitted wagon nuts, and the Sportbrake really floats our boat in best of ways. It really does look fantastic and even upstages the XF sedan by quite a bit. It injects new life into the XF model.

Front: The big black grille and lower intakes are perfectly menacing, along with the feline headlights. The simply creased hood provides enough aggression without overdoing it.

Rear: Two round exhaust tips and F-Type style taillights punctuate the rear end, and it all looks great.

Profile: The total absence of chrome replaced by tasty black trim and wheels make it stunning from this angle. We especially love the long, sloping greenhouse.

Cabin: It's a bit on the dark side and not special enough for a car of this price and caliber. The white contrast stitching only helps a little.

Comfort

7.4

 

Nobody makes big wagons anymore. They've had to adjust to become either sportier (Buick TourX) or more crossover-like (Subaru Forester). The XF Sportbrake is medium-sized inside and more of a fast daily driver than it is a hauler.

Front Seats: The seats are a bit on the hard side, but support and bolstering are pretty good.

Rear Seats: The legroom is a little tight, especially with the climate controls in front of the middle position, but adults can sit in the outboard seats without too much discomfort.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The XF Sportbrake feels well built, and there are no errant noises inside. The powerful engine can be pleasantly heard, and it's the one noise we welcome in the cabin.

Visibility: Overall visibility is good out the front and sides, but the rear is slightly compromised due to the thick D-pillar.

Climate: The climate system works decently, but there's no physical sync button in the center stack for the two-zone climate control system.

Safety

6.5

 

Neither the XF nor the XF Sportbrake have been crash tested due to their niche status in the industry, but we ranked it higher than average thanks to good standard and optional safety features.

IIHS Rating: Not tested

NHTSA Rating: Not tested

Standard Tech: The S trim gets a good set of features like rear view camera, front and rear parking aid, lane keep assist, driver condition monitoring and emergency braking, cruise control and speed limiter, blind spot monitor and reverse traffic direction, InControl Protect SOS Emergency Call and Stolen Vehicle Locator, emergency brake assist, and tire pressure monitoring system

Optional Tech: Our tester came with the $3,500 Driver Assistance Package that comes with Adaptive Cruise Control w/ Queue Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Speed Limiter, 360 Parking Aid, Surround Camera System, and Blind Spot Assist & Park Assist.

Storage/Cargo

8.7

 

It's not like the wagons of old that felt 30 feet long and could swallow lumber, but the XF Sportbrake provides enough cargo space and cabin storage space to be practical.

Storage Space: There's a cubby at the base of the center stack, and nice cupholders with a retractable sliding door, but the armrest is too small to hold any more than change and tiny items.

Cargo Room: The XF Sportbrake ha 31.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 69.7 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. Overall, it's more capacious than the Mercedes E-Class wagon.

Fuel Economy

6.2

 

When a there's a powerful motor under the hood, a fair amount of weight, and all-wheel drive, efficiency isn't the name of the game, but that's not quite what we expect from this performance wagon.

Observed: 17.7 mpg

Distance Driven: 216 miles

Driving Factors: We drove about 75 percent on local roads and 25 on the highway in Dynamic mode.

Audio

8.7

 

Our test vehicle came with the $3,200 Tech Package that includes the premium Meridian sound system. It's a solid sound system that sounds great with good clarity and bass. You just have to decide if you want to spend that much coin that also nets you Wi-Fi and navigation.



Final Thoughts

The XF Sportbrake actually makes the model more youthful than its sedan counterpart. And thanks to a supercharged V6, the Sportbrake moves with authority, and it looks and sounds truly special. We just wish the interior was more upscale and less dark and that the infotainment worked better. That being said, it's one of our favorite cars to drive so far this year.
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