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XF Sportbrake: the Jaguar of SUVs

by Autobytel Staff
March 20, 2012
2 min. Reading Time

Jaguar has taken the wraps off the XF Sportbrake before its official premiere at the Geneva Motor Show. While not every detail is available on this super-sleet cat wagon, one thing has become clear; it is the quintessential British aristocrat machine.

To understand this better, it will be good to know how Jaguar's now stable mate, the Range Rover, gained popularity. The Range Rover acquired luxury accessories and stature as they became the vehicle of choice for the wealthy land owners of the United Kingdom. These people liked a vehicle that could carry their dogs, tow the horse carrier, and also be used to go anywhere on their vast estates. This may seem a little bit like a of a British stereotype, but this is the birth of how we see the Range Rover today. While the super-slick appearance of XF Sportbrake may not look like it is after this old money crowd, it is positioning the wagon in the Range Rover's tradition.

For starters, Jaguar has only announced diesel powertrains for the Sportbrake: the 2.2-liter turbo four-cylinder and 3.0-liter turbo six-cylinder units making 187 hp and 271 hp respectively. More importantly, the torque in these engines are 332 lb-ft in the four-cylinder and 442 lb-ft in the six-cylinder. This means the six-cylinder Jag wagon has more torque than the 6.2-liter gas V8 in the Ford F-150 Raptor.

That kind of power gives the XF Sportbrake a towing capacity of 4,075 lbs. That is about 1,000 lbs less than what can be had from most SUVs in this country, but it is still not bad from a unibody car. It should be plenty of pulling power to get the horses to the polo match. Plus, Jaguar adds its Trailer Sway Mitigation system that uses car's anti-lock braking and stability control systems to reduce the risk swaying when towing.

This being a Jaguar, it doesn't let utility ruin its appearance. Replacing the tow bar with a supplied rear valance cover can disguise its mounting point and conceal the hitch area.

The XF Sportbrake is not a perfect SUV substitute. The low ground clearance and lack of four-wheel drive means this is not battling for all of the Range Rover's market.

Aside from function, the Sportbrake adds plenty of style to the XF family. The XF sedan already had a sleek, sloping rear end, but the Sportbrake gives the roofline a more gradual curve that does an even better job of mimicking the cats that used to adorn the hoods of these cars.

Jaguar says all the panels from the b-pillar back are new. We're inclined to believe them, even if the length between the sedan and wagon are nearly the same. Where the difference is felt is in the rear headroom where the XF Sportbrake gains a welcomed two inches.

Of course the real advantage to the Sportbrake/wagon is the available 59 cubic feet of cargo area. That's plenty of room to carry the dogs or picnic supplies. Plus, the rear hatch and the self-leveling air suspension means tailgating on the polo grounds is an easy task.


Before the well-heeled, tow-happy people of the U.S. line up at the Jaguar dealer for this one, know that the deck is staked against this one for North America. First, Jaguar doesn't sell diesels here at this time, and the engines are not certified for us. Second, the corporation already sells family haulers that can haul loads in the form of Range Rovers. Finally, even if this one is called a "Sportbrake," most of us will see it as a wagon, and we fear wagons over here.

So, Jaguar has not announced any plans to get the XF Sportbrake certified for the U.S., but not all hope is lost. Their North American dealer body is likely begging for this car. The rumored Jaguar crossover is still a few years away, and this may make for an acceptable vehicle to fill the gap. Plus, most dealers want as much variety available as possible.

There could be some room over here a 5.0-liter supercharged gas engine version. Of course, without a diesel it loses much of its towing appeal. But there is still a certain kind of cool of having a Jag wagon that can almost compete with the Cadillac CTS-V grocery getter.


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