Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review 2023

Written by Andrew Brady

7/10
heycar ratingStylish, exciting to drive estate
  • 2017
  • Estate
  • Diesel, Petrol

Quick overview

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Great to drive 
  • Oodles of equipment 

Cons

  • No hybrid option
  • Higher running costs than its rivals
  • Pre-facelift interior isn't as classy

Overall verdict on the Jaguar XF Sportbrake

"In this 2022 Jaguar XF Sportbrake review we're looking at the ideal car for someone who likes the idea of owning a sporty Jaguar but can't quite live with reality of a two-seat sports car. With a large boot and plenty of space for passengers it can do the boring jobs, but when the circumstances permit it's a very entertaining car to drive. It gets left behind a little by the key German rivals in terms of quality and ultimate load capacity, and the diesel engine can be a little gruff, but if those factors don't put you off it's a very desirable premium estate."

Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review 2023: exterior front three quarter photo of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake

There's no denying that Sportbrake is an odd title for a car. It's supposed to sound more dynamic than just a plain old estate, but that's precisely what it is. An elongated version of the Jaguar XF saloon, with a roomier cabin and boot.


Well, perhaps plain is the wrong word. This is a very handsome car indeed, with neatly balanced proportions that a lumbering SUV could only dream of, and the stylish exterior design is definitely a big part of its appeal.


The other major attraction is the Jaguar XF Sportbrake's brilliant driving experience. It's a big family-friendly car that stops, steers and turns like a much smaller one, with fantastic steering, loads of grip, and yet an impressively supple ride, too.


Our only gripe is with its refinement, as road and engine noise are both louder than its German-built peers.


Despite the swoopy looks, it gets close to the competition for luggage space, with a well-shaped 565-litre boot that is deep enough to swallow all but the widest cargo, and has plenty of clever touches for load-lugging. It feels even more spacious than the saloon in the back too, with loads of knee room and a much taller roof line.


It can't carry quite as much stuff as the F-Pace SUV, but with the option of four-wheel drive and a range of punchy diesel engines to choose from, it's a viable alternative for buyers keen to avoid a high-riding SUV.


Fuel economy is about average though, and many of its contemporaries now offer plug-in hybrid alternatives.


That means that best engine remains the 2.0-litre diesel with 204PS. It comes paired up with a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, but doesn't deliver the strongest straight-line performance. You can add all-wheel drive should you need it, and it'll cost less to run than the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrols - the 3.0-litre V6 diesel was dropped following the facelift.


Unfortunately, it competes with some incredibly talented luxury estates, including the likes of Audi's A6 Avant,  BMW 5 Series Touring, and Mercedes E-Class Estate, along with classy alternatives such as the Volvo V90.


Most of the cars we've just mentioned feature impeccably built interiors that are draped in expensive-feeling materials, and a wider choice of engines that will suit company car drivers. If the lowest possible tailpipe emissions are a top priority, then the Jaguar XF Sportbrake probably isn't the car for you.


Prices for used models are strong, but that means you'll end up paying more for a Jaguar XF Sportbrake than you would for any of its rivals in a similar condition and spec, and we're not sure where that added value comes from. It does come nicely equipped with loads of safety assistance, comfort and luxury features that you would be forced to pay extra for by other brands, but there are some notable omissions too.


For potential owners to fall in love with the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, they need to accept that its exceptional handling, spacious interior and classy exterior design paper over some fairly major drawbacks. 


Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of Jaguar Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of Jaguar XF Sportbrake models.

If you enjoy driving, then the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is one of the most rewarding estate cars money can buy. It has quick and precise steering that lets you know exactly how much grip is available from the tyres. It handles with a level of agility almost unheard of in cars this size, yet also rides smoothly over bumps in the road.


Few rivals handle as sweetly, but it has some rather large drawbacks. The first is the coarse and laboured 2.0-litre diesel motor. It’s the most popular choice, but lacks the hushed refinement and efficiency of similar engines from competitors. It never feels as strong or responsive as its official figures would have you believe.


The Jaguar XF Sportbrake can still handle a wide range of load-lugging duties, and the boot can match most of its premium rivals. While those travelling in the back will welcome the spacious cabin and comfortable seats, it falls short on build quality. The updated infotainment system is a big improvement on later cars, but the majority of used examples will feature the much older system.

Buyers of large premium cars like the Jaguar XF Sportbrake expect a high standard of equipment from their cars, which means there is no need to mess around adding too many options. All versions come with leather upholstered seats, which are electrically adjustable and heated, all-round parking sensors, a touchscreen sat-nav and cruise control. 


We would plump for the Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Dynamic SE model if you can though, as this gets the digital instrument display instead of conventional analogue dials, as well as 19-inch alloy wheels and extra safety kit. Step up to the HSE version and you get the excellent 400W Meridian Sound System and adaptive cruise control.


Despite their sub-par refinement, the four-cylinder diesel makes the most financial sense. The petrols are far too thirsty, and down on pulling power. 

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake goes toe-to-toe with the estate versions of the heavy-hitting German saloons. It comes out of the contest pretty bruised too. The 5 Series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and E-Class Estate bring the full might of their respective companies to bear, with advanced on-board technology, mild-hybrid engines and superior quality.


While none of them are as sharp to drive as the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, we wouldn't blame buyers for picking one of these classy rivals instead. Purely based on their refinement, speed, and in the Mercedes' case, sheer load-lugging ability.


For anyone seeking comfort and chic styling, the Volvo V90 is softer, equally safe and just as well-equipped. It also (like the Audi and Mercedes) comes in a more rugged guise, with raised suspension and underbody protection to appeal to SUV buyers. These add light mud-plugging ability to the premium estate car recipe.


Still, if all you need is a practical estate with loads of toys, a top spec Skoda Superb Estate is worth a look. It may not have the badge, but features a stronger diesel engine, sturdier cabin and a bigger boot than the XF.

Comfort and design: Jaguar XF Sportbrake interior

"The interior layout of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake understandably matches the saloon exactly, and has simplicity on its side. Where its rivals go for flashy materials and bathe the cabin in neon mood lighting, the Jaguar is more reserved."

Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review 2023: interior close up photo of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake dashboard

The facelifted Jaguar XF Sportbrake benefits from the latest 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system, which is a signficant improvement on the outdated previous version. It sits comfortably on the dashboard and doesn't dominate your view, while it sensibly keeps physical buttons for the climate control and audio volume too. A high window line that comes up to your shoulder gives it a sporty vibe, but can leave you feeling hemmed in.


All fairly straightforward then, but with a few oddities. The window controls on the driver's side are mounted lower down than in other premium cars, and it can be awkward trying to lower the rear window, for example. 


The Jaguar XF Sportbrake driving position is spot-on. The pedals line-up perfectly with the seat base, and you can manually adjust the base, or change the angle of the backrest with electrical assistance to find a comfortable sitting posture.


There are plenty of creature comforts too. Toasty heaters will keep your bum warm on cold days, and if you want them, climate seats to soothe you in warmer weather are offered as an option. Higher spec models also get 'Windsor' leather seats which offer additional electric adjustment and nicer leather.

This is one area where modern Jaguars have traditionally struggled to past muster, and although improved in the latest version the Jaguar XF Sportbrake isn't quite able to match the high benchmarks set by the most luxurious big estates.


The major issue is the inconsistency of the materials used in the cabin. For every pleasingly stitched surface or smartly finished area, there is a loose feeling switch, creaking trim panel or hollow sounding plastic mould.


Each time you encounter one of the above, it robs you of any trust in the solidity of the cabin's construction, and while it may prove as robust as anything from Audi, BMW or Mercedes, it simply doesn't feel as plush.


That's not to say the Jaguar XF Sportbrake's interior is an unmitigated disaster - far from it in fact - the steering wheel and supportive leather seats do add a sense of theatre and opulence. You can fit traditional wood veneers across the range for a reasonable price, or choose a sportier gloss black or carbon-effect look.


However, problem areas like average-quality metal effect trim are there to remind you that Jaguar spend a lot more of its budget honing the handling than it did improving the interior.

Original Jaguar XF Sportbrakes came with a choice of 8.0-inch and 10.0-inch touchscreens, the former being dropped part way through its lifespan, but even the larger of the two systems was second-best to the offerings from key rivals at BMW and Mercedes-Benz.


New Jaguar XF Sportbrakes come with the upgraded Pivi Pro system with an 11.4-inch touchscreen, which is a big improvement. The gently curved screen sits neatly on the dashboard, is clear and easy to read and doesn't obscure your view out of the windscreen either, a common issue on cars with large touchscreens.


Even the basic version comes comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as native apps like Spotify, dual SIM connection and voice commands. It also has a dedicated power source so it boots up faster when you get into the car and gives you weather updates based on your location and destination. As of 2022 Pivi Pro systems will also get Alexa connectivity so you can use voice commands for a variety of features.


Sound quality from the standard system is surprisingly good, with eight speakers pushing out 180w, but there are two optional Meridian stereos. The first has a punchy 400w output, but you might as well splash out on the 825w system, which costs a little more, and boasts 16 speakers, a sub woofer and 16 channel amplifier.

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake's dimensions are 4964mm in length, 1890mm in width and 1494mm in height, and it is the length that plays the biggest part in ensuring it offers a spacious cabin. 


In terms of raw numbers, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake's 565-litre capacity is bang-on for the class, matching the A6 Avant and bettering a Volvo V90, although for a truly cavernous loading bay, nothing can topple the 640-litre Mercedes E-Class. Fold down the rear seats using the handy triggers in the boot, and this expands to an impressive 1,700 litres.


What does that mean in everyday use then? Well, firstly you'll be struck by how cleverly designed the XF is. The tailgate swings open at the push of a button, and the luggage area is wide and flat, with a tiny load lip. You'll find numerous lashing points and aluminium rails for securing loose items, and the seats split 40/20/40.


This configuration gives you the ability to rearrange the interior to carry passengers and bulky loads together, or just flip the middle seat down to stow longer items like skis or fishing poles. Combine this with the massive boot aperture, and you'll be able to fit and carry an impressively wide range of cargo, despite the sleek looks.


Passengers in the rear of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake will have few complaints on long trips. The angle of the back rests means the seats give excellent thigh support, and there are several inches of fresh air between your knees and those in front. Headroom is equally generous, even with the optional glass roof fitted, so even taller teens should be comfy.


The two outer chairs have ISOFIX mounting points and top tethers for fitting child seats, and the doors open wide enough to allow easy access, even if you're manoeuvring a cumbersome rear-facing seat into position. Fitting three across the back is a rather tight squeeze, as it's a narrow perch with nowhere to put your feet.


There are a few decent spots for stashing bags of Haribo on a lengthy road trip, including map pockets in the front seat backs, a covered cubby in the centre console and a big glovebox, but the door pins are a bit stingy. 


All diesel Jaguar XF Sportbrakes can tow a maximum of two tonnes, but we'd choose the four-wheel drive models for this task. Jaguar also charges quite a lot for a detachable tow bar including fitted - over £1,000 in fact, which is steep.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Jaguar XF Sportbrake like to drive?

"Jaguar is a brand with a distinctly sporty heritage, but the way its cars can flow down a twisty country road shows that this reputation is richly deserved. For a practical family model, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is stunning to drive."

Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review 2023: exterior front three quarter photo of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake on the road

Unlike the four-door, it comes with self-levelling air suspension at the rear axle. This is there to improve ride comfort, but also compensate for heavy loads unbalancing the car when towing, or carrying a packed boot. It helps the Jaguar XF Sportbrake stay flat and stable, even if you're carting an old fridge off to the local recycling centre.


Happily, this setup does nothing to spoil the sweet handling balance of the saloon. The steering is dripping in natural feedback, giving you total confidence to place the car, and also about how much grip the tyres have. Turn the wheel and its quick and accurate tuning lends a fluidity to the Jaguar XF Sportbrake's movements that belies its size.


Rear-drive models give you the wonderful sensation of gently 'pushing' you out of tighter turns, making the Jaguar XF Sportbrake feel much more nimble and responsive to your inputs than its rivals, which are more neutral in corners.


Adding four-wheel drive ensures extra traction in slippery conditions, for example on muddy winter roads, but both versions generate bags of grip in the dry, with excellent body control and a composed ride over bumps.


None of this impressive poise comes at the expense of passenger comfort. It soaks up most imperfections, and isolates those on board when it does encounter motorway expansion joints or potholes. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake 300 Sport model has a slightly firmer setup that feels a little stiffer around town, but is just as well-judged as the standard car.

The original powertrain range of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake consisted of three 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesels and a 3.0-litre V6 diesel, plus two petrol options. Propping up the range was the 2.0d 163, which felt a bit underpowered, and will only appeal to buyers who need lower CO2.


The mid-range Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2.0d 180 offers the best blend of power and economy, even though it's still no fireball, while the punchiest 2.0-litre has 240PS and comes with all-wheel drive as standard. On paper it sounds ideal, with loads of low-down grunt, but in practice it lacks the pace you would expect, and is thirstier than the V6. That's a lovely option if you can stretch to it, but there will be limited supply on the used market.


Petrol options on pre-facelift models consisted of a single 2.0-litre turbocharged unit with rear-wheel drive and 250PS, or the same unit with a 300PS output and four-wheel drive. Word of warning though, neither feels as quick as those power outputs imply, with a significant drop in mid-range grunt compared to the diesels, and worse economy.


New Jaguar XF Sportbrakes can be had with a 2.0-litre mild hybrid diesel with 204PS, and although it's no smoother than before it's the best choice in the current line up, with strong economy and enough performance to suit most needs.


As before the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol cam be had with 250PS or 300PS in the Jaguar XF Sportbrake 300 Sport version, but neither offer the all-round appeal of the diesel offering and will cost you more to run too.


Almost every model in the range comes fitted with a traditional eight-speed automatic transmission. The only exception is the entry-level diesel, which is offered with a six-speed manual. The former is the gearbox you want though, improving refinement, straight-line performance and efficiency, and it's fairly responsive as well.

With such a sophisticated exterior and supple chassis, you would hope that the Jaguar XF Sportbrake could cocoon you from the world outside, making journeys of hundreds of miles pass by in a flash. 


The popular four-cylinder diesels are noisier travel companions. They sound agricultural at low revs, creating an unpleasant clatter on start-up, sending unwelcome vibrations into the cabin, and grow coarser if pushed. 


Drive the Jaguar XF Sportbrake in town, and the stop/start system constantly reminds you of their poor isolation, restarting with an unpleasant jolt and lumpen idle. Almost every rival diesel four-cylinder is quieter and less intrusive to use.


Picking a 2.0-litre petrol improves matters slightly, certainly at low speeds, but once you're on the motorway, the Sportbrake also generates more audible tyre roar on big alloys than its peers will - especially the Audi A6.


Wind noise is less noticeable, and the eight-speed automatic transmission fitted to most models is generally smooth, with barely perceptible shifts. It can occasionally hesitate when you want a quick burst of speed, and seems to have been tuned to feel sporty, so will sometimes kick-down through several gears unnecessarily.

Every large estate at this price does enough to earn a full five stars from independent testers Euro NCAP. It doesn't mean that they're all equally safe though, so allow us to rake through the finer points of difference.


Estate versions do not get tested separately to earn their own rating, but since they share identical safety features and crash structures, they share their test scores with the four-door cars, so should prove secure.


The Jaguar XF got a great score for adult occupant protection (92%) and achieved well over 80% in the three other individual categories; child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist. Very impressive stuff.


So what do you get included as standard? All Jaguar XF Sportbrakes come with traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, and auto emergency braking (AEB) which can sense any oncoming collisions, stopping the car if necessary. That's on top of cruise and traction control, six airbags, hazard lights that flash to warn other drivers if you brake heavily, and a hill launch assistant to get you moving again when you're stopped on a sharp incline.


It's also there to lend a hand with your low-speed manoeuvres. Every model gets all-round parking sensors, while all facelifted versions add a reversing camera, an option on older cars.


Of course, there's a whole heap of optional driving aids, if you have deep enough pockets. These include surround view cameras, and a self-parking assistant, but the biggest bundle is the Active Safety Pack. It's pricey, but comes with blind spot detection, a driver fatigue monitor, adaptive cruise control that can come to a complete standstill and set off again, and a system to alert you to passing cars when reversing into traffic.


MPG and fuel costs: What does a Jaguar XF Sportbrake cost to run?

"Even in facelifted form the Jaguar XF Sportbrake only offers mild-hybrid rather than a full-hybrid option, which means that the core four-cylinder diesels are the most efficient models."

Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review 2023: exterior rear three quarter photo of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake

The most popular D200 Jaguar XF Sportbrake has an official WLTP fuel consumption figure of 51.5mpg, which is respectable although not the best in the class. You should expect to reach over 40mpg most of the time unless you really exercise your right foot.


Choose the AWD version with that engine and this drops to 47.7mpg, while the P250 petrol only offers 32.4mpg officially - expect to be getting sub-30mpg most of the time.  Inevitably the most powerful XF 300 Sport has the worst consumption of 29.9mpg, only those with healthy bank accounts or a company fuel card should apply.

There's some mixed news here. Jaguar as a brand came almost perfectly in the middle of the pack in the HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Index, coming 16th out of 30 manufacturers. But that's all the good news.


Less promising is that Jaguar XF Sportbrake was one of worst-performing cars of all, with a score of 8.72 for reliability and 8.22 out of 10 for cost of repairs. Even more damning is that this is a lower score than the previous generation XF (2008-2015) - but that car still made the bottom 10 cars for reliability. 

Insurance cover for your Jaguar XF Sportbrake should be considerably lower than in any of its German counterparts. That's because of the entry-level model's modest power output and manual gearbox, putting it in group 25 - but that's only for pre-facelift models, as this engine was dropped. New Jaguar XF Sportbrakes start at group 35 for the D200 SE.


P250 petrol models are a couple of groups higher at 37, while the quickest Jaguar XF Sportbrake P300 version sits in group 40.

Only a few early Jaguar XF Sportbrakes registered prior to April 1st 2017 will pay the older CO2-based road tax. It'll range from just £30 for the most efficient 2.0d 163, right up to £205 for the dirtiest petrol automatic versions. 


All cars from after that date attract the same flat-rate tax, currently £165 a year for petrol and diesel models alike. However, most XFs cost more than £40,000 new, so incur the higher 'Premium' charge for luxury cars.


This adds an additional £355 per year over the first five years of ownership, bringing your costs up to £520.

How much should you be paying for a used Jaguar XF Sportbrake?

"It took Jaguar took two years after launching the XF saloon before offering it as a more practical estate, so it's harder to find as many used examples. Saloons outnumber Jaguar XF Sportbrakes two to one, keeping prices buoyant."

Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review 2023: exterior side photo of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake

There are a few early examples around for £15,000 or so, but these cars have higher than average mileage. Expect to part with around £20,000 for a tidier 2.0-litre diesel, in your choice of trim, with a full service book. That's a fair wedge more than what you'd be paying for an Audi A6, BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class in estate guise and similar condition, purely because the Germans are all so popular on company car fleets.


Prices for four-wheel drive models start from around £2,000 higher than their rear-drive counterparts, and you might have to travel a bit further to get one in a spec that suits you, although there's a good selection.


Petrols have typically covered much shorter distances, with prices for the Jaguar XF Sportbrake 250PS 2.0i starting from £23,000. There are great deals on nearly new cars, with a wide choice of 2019 models with less than 5,000 miles on the clock for well under £30,000.


Facelifted versions are even harder to come by - the handful that are available will set you back at least £32,000 and upwards.

Jaguar refuses to skimp on luxuries, and the Jaguar XF Sportbrake comes as lavishly appointed as you would hope in such a large, expensive car. 


The entry point is the Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Dynamic S, which is packed with kit as standard. LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels and 12-way electric heated seats are all there from the off, while useful safety kit includes Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist.


Next up is the Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Dynamic SE, which adds Auto High Beam Assist to the LED headlights, a wireless charging pad, sport seats, and the desirable Meridian Sound System.


At the top of the range is the Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Dynamic HSE, and this adds 20-inch alloy wheels and 16-way electric heated seats with Windsor leather.


The Jaguar XF Sportbrake 300 Sport technically sits higher in the range but only comes with the 300PS petrol option. For your extra outlay you get a heated steering wheel, privacy glass and premium cabin lighting - as well as the most powerful engine in the range.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

They're different cars in different classes of course, but of the two we'd go for the XF. Apart from there not being a Sportbrake version of the XE, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is nicer to drive and better-looking too.
Substitute the word 'Sportbrake' for 'estate' and you're pretty much there. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake has an estate-like tailgate compared to the XF saloon and consequently offers more boot space.
Most versions you'll come across will be rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive has been available since the start so you will find some examples with this feature. It's not really worth the additional outlay unless you plan to do a lot of towing in tough conditions.

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