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Jaguar XF 2018 review: Sportbrake First Edition 30d

EXPERT RATING
7.4
Fewer are buying wagons, especially luxury wagons. So what was Jaguar thinking when it created its XF Sportbrake?

If a Jaguar owner fell through a wormhole from 2003, the company they bought their car from would be   almost unrecognisable. Back then, it was a bewildering mess making an odd assortment of cars, yet to emerge into the light after Ford's confused and debilitating period of ownership. 

Why 2003? Fifteen years is a nice round number and pre-dates the arrival of the brand-saving XF.

Today, Jaguar has three SUVs, and the gorgeous F-Type, the XE, its second-generation XF and the big XJ. It has three SUVs (the F-Pace, E-Pace and I-Pace) because without them Jaguar would be a niche manufacturer before long, because big sedans, formerly the brand's trademark, are continuing their gentle decline. Oddly enough, one of the market segments contracting even faster than sedans is wagons

So what better time to launch into a draining pool from the three-metre board than now? Jaguar has bravely taken that risk and brought us the puzzlingly named XF Sportbrake.

Jaguar XF 2018: SPORTBRAKE 30d (221kW) 1ST ED
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency5.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$104,170

Is there anything interesting about its design?  8/10

The second-generation XF is a very pretty car. A few carmakers have a had a crack at that four-door coupe idea, but Jaguar's Ian Callum got it right first go. You might expect the wagon to be a bit dumpy but it's far from it. That's not to say wagons can't be good looking - many are better-looking than the car they're based on (the weirdly proportioned Golf wagon being the exception to the rule). The XF sedan just looks right.

The second-generation XF is a very pretty car. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The second-generation XF is a very pretty car. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Anyway, the Sportbrake is basically the same until behind the B-pillar, with the roof continuing on to steeply raked tailgate glass. Obviously the lights are different back there but it's a nicely integrated job, it doesn't look like a dodgy extension. Rolling on the optional 20-inch wheels it looks amazing - low, long and well-proportioned. Unfortunately, it's more than vaguely hearse-like in black (the only First Edition colour).

Inside is standard XF, with the obvious exception of the rear seats and the big open load area. With this First Edition's glass roof the cabin seems infinite. Either way it's big and comfortable, although fit and finish could be a bit tighter.

How practical is the space inside?  8/10

Front and rear passengers enjoy plenty of space. Storage includes a not-quite-big-enough-for-a-phone tray ahead of the rotary dial gear selector and a pair of cupholders. Those in the rear have plenty of space, except for the middle seat occupant who must straddle a stout transmission tunnel. The rear armrest holds a pair of cupholders and the doors have slim pockets.

  • Front passengers enjoy plenty of space. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Front passengers enjoy plenty of space. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • Those in the rear have plenty of space, except for the middle seat occupant who must straddle a stout transmission tunnel. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Those in the rear have plenty of space, except for the middle seat occupant who must straddle a stout transmission tunnel. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

The boot holds 565 litres with the seats in place and "up to" 1700 litres with the seats down - that latter figure does not feel like a VDA number.

  • The boot holds 565 litres with the seats in place. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The boot holds 565 litres with the seats in place. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • There is "up to" 1700 litres of space with the seats down. (image credit: Peter Anderson) There is "up to" 1700 litres of space with the seats down. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?  7/10

Over the years the XF has edged its way upmarket and is now playing with the Germans in the big luxury segment. And as is now customary for Jaguar, the Sportbrake is available in First Edition guise. First Editions are available for a model's first year of production and are usually based on the top-spec (in the Sportbrake's case, that's the 30d S) with a few extra bits and pieces to make things interesting.

While the 30d S retails for $123,450, the FE weighs in at $137,300. For that you'll waft out of the showroom with 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, a huge panoramic glass roof with gesture-activated roof blind, around-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, 11-speaker Meridian-branded stereo with DAB, sat nav, head-up display, electric gesture-activated tailgate, keyless entry and start, rear air suspension, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, leather trim and a space-saver spare.

The XF First Edition gets auto LED headlights. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The XF First Edition gets auto LED headlights. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Jaguar Land Rover's 'InControl' media system is presented on a whopping 12.3-inch screen and, as ever, is steadily improving but goes without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The sound is, as you might expect, pretty good.

Jaguar Land Rover's 'InControl' media system goes without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Jaguar Land Rover's 'InControl' media system goes without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Our car had a few options fitted. 'Active Safety Pack' (see below), carbon-fibre trim ($3470), driver and passenger memory pack ($3210, including perforated leather trim), 20-inch wheels upgrade ($2790), cold-climate pack ($2540), illuminated metal treadplates ($2110), privacy glass ($950), 'InControl Protect' ($630), configurable interior lighting ($540), nets and rails ($390 and $320 respectively), extra power socket ($240) and 'InControl Apps' ($100). Most of it is cosmetic and/or unnecessary and took us to $158,950.

Our test car had the optional 20-inch wheels. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Our test car had the optional 20-inch wheels. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

And there is still a plethora of boxes to tick.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?  7/10

The First Edition ships with Jaguar's 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V6. Good for 221kW and a prodigious 700Nm, power heads to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic.

The First Edition ships with Jaguar's 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V6. Good for 221kW and a prodigious 700Nm. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The First Edition ships with Jaguar's 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V6. Good for 221kW and a prodigious 700Nm. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

With all that power and torque, the XF Sportbrake cracks 100km/h from rest in 6.6 seconds.

The air suspension means you can tow up to 2000kg with a braked trailer.

How much fuel does it consume?  7/10

Jaguar claims a combined-cycle figure of 5.9L/100km. Our time with it was mostly shuttling around the suburbs with a couple of highway runs and we managed a respectable 8.3L/100km.

What's it like to drive?  7/10

There's no getting away from the size and heft of the Sportbrake. Where a four-cylinder sedan comes in under 1600kg - not bad for an almost five-metre-long car - up here at the top it's well over 1800kg. With big wheels and a long wheelbase it's not going to win any wards for manoeuvrability, with a big turning circle and a length that's challenging to shopping centre car parks.

The 3.0 V6 twin-turbo is a fantastic unit. It can be a bit noisy when cold but it's super smooth and with all that torque it crushes overtaking with little need for advanced planning. The Sportbrake wafts along, lazily turning over in traffic and keeping the vibe calm.

Despite those big wheels, the ride is excellent. Even when in Sport mode, it's a rare bump or surface that will cause drama. It's very comfortable and very quiet, almost to the level of the XJ limo.

If you do fancy a bit of amusement, the V6 and well-sorted chassis are ready to play. In reality, Sport mode is where both myself and my wife left the car the whole time we had it. Both of us found the steering a little too light and preferred the more lively throttle response. The XF features torque vectoring using the brakes and coupled with a well-judged stability and traction control system, it delivers a good impression of a sporty sedan.

But the XF is best when you keep it relaxed. Both in town and in the cruise, it's a lovely, quiet place to be and a relaxing, undemanding drive. 

Only a couple of things were annoying - the light steering we've already covered. The heated windscreen was more reflection-prone so the head-up display could be hard to see in some lighting conditions. And sometimes it beeped for no apparent reason, which I eventually traced to the blind-spot warning.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?  8/10

The XF comes with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB, reversing camera, lane-departure warning, and tyre-pressure monitoring.

For child seats you've a choice of three top-tether anchors or two ISOFIX points.

Our car had the $4360 Active Safety Pack, which adds blind-spot monitoring, reverse cross traffic alert, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise and driver-attention detection. If you were to ask me, this little lot should be standard at this level.

Despite that, the XF scored a maximum five ANCAP stars following assessment in 2015.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?  7/10

Jaguars are offered with a three-year/100,000km warranty with a matching roadside-assist package. You can purchase a five-year/130,000km service plan for an oddly reasonable $2200. Even more reasonable are the service intervals - 12 months or 26,000km (!).

Pricing Guides

$59,990
Based on 15 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$53,870
Highest Price
$79,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
20d (132kW) PORTFOLIO 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $66,220 – 76,120 2018 JAGUAR XF 2018 20d (132kW) PORTFOLIO Pricing and Specs
20d (132kW) PRESTIGE 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $53,870 – 59,990 2018 JAGUAR XF 2018 20d (132kW) PRESTIGE Pricing and Specs
20d (132kW) R-SPORT 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $60,500 – 69,520 2018 JAGUAR XF 2018 20d (132kW) R-SPORT Pricing and Specs
20t (147kW) PRESTIGE 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $54,340 – 62,480 2018 JAGUAR XF 2018 20t (147kW) PRESTIGE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving7

“With that iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove wrapped in bubble wrap engine, excellent ride and gorgeous looks, the XF Sportbrake ticks all the boxes. Apart from the entry price and options prices, there are few objective reasons not to buy the car. It's just as good as any of its German competition and arguably the prettiest of the lot.”

So you've decided you want a prestige wagon? Is it the Jaguar for you, or do you need a German machine to lug your load?

Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$104,170

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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