This begs the nagging query: May wagons turn out to be a severe factor within the States? We spent a day bombing by means of Portuguese backroads to learn how the Sportbrake fares amongst its area of interest aggressive set.
The 2018 Sportbrake is a wagonized model of the second-gen XF sedan that arrived in 2016. Whereas the first-gen mannequin solely provided a wagon variant for the European market, the brand new Sportbrake is a world automobile that brings a extra streamlined, aluminum-intensive structure to the desk and at last provides American wagon lovers the Jag they have been craving.
First off, the important cause we’re right here: the cargo space. Activate the ability tailgate (which makes use of a one-piece composite tailgate, similar to the F-Tempo), and the opening reveals a flat floor on all sides with 31.7 cubic toes of storage. Fold the rear seats down, and quantity expands to a substantial 69.7 — a rise of 12.6 and 38.four cubic toes, respectively. For comparability, the Volvo V90 Cross Nation gives 19.eight/53.9 cubic toes, and the Mercedes-Benz E400 Wagon has 35.zero/64.zero cubic toes. Folding the Sportbrake’s rear seats down produces a pleasant, flat expanse for cargo, with no obtrusive humps or bumps on the aspect. Commonplace rear air suspension retains issues stage when loaded up.
Onward to the entrance seats, the place the cabin brings the XF’s acquainted design with the dashboard rimmed in a curved ribbon of wooden veneer — a nice contact that offsets the in any other case blasé textured aluminum bits on the sprint and shifter encompass. In fact, there’s the love-it-or-leave-it cylindrical shifter that rises from the middle console, a confounding little bit of design that leaves most PRNDL traditionalists chilly. So, too, does the plastic starter button on the sprint, one of many few unsatisfying puzzle items within the in any other case agreeably completed inside. However fireplace up the engine, and it is simple to neglect these quibbles.
Click on into D, and the Sportbrake accelerates eagerly due to the engine’s 332 lb-ft of torque, which has four,045 kilos of mass to hustle. The Sportbrake is 165 kilos heavier than the sedan, so it is nearer in weight to the F-Tempo S AWD at four,015 kilos. The V-6 gives loads of energy in the usual driving mode, whereas turning the dial to S downshifts the eight-speed auto extra eagerly. Even within the extra aggressive mode, shifts are easy and predictable, reflecting a well-tuned relationship between engine and gearbox. Paddle shifters reply fairly shortly to inputs, although the auto shift setup is pure sufficient to not beg for human intervention. Alongside Portugal’s easily paved highway surfaces, the Sportbrake struck an excellent steadiness between responsiveness and journey high quality, which bodes effectively for on a regular basis use. And whereas the Sportbrake is presently accessible solely with the supercharged V-6 and all-wheel drive, Jaguar says extra powertrain variants will turn out to be accessible down the road.
A middle console button gives sport (checkered flag) or winter (snowflake) modes, which have an effect on steering stiffness, throttle response and shift factors. I discovered the game setting made the throttle too twitchy to use energy easily. Aside from that, the Sportbrake provided exact steering, sharp turn-in and communicative responses to inputs on the winding roads all through Portugal’s hill nation. Curiously, that feeling of intuitiveness runs counter to its prolonged wheelbase or its thick-tailed profile view: Despite its dimension, the Sportbrake manages to really feel smaller and nimbler from the driving force seat, encouraging greater nook speeds and larger confidence the extra you drive it.
To not beat the proverbial lifeless horse concerning the satisfaction of driving a wagon, however every part concerning the Sportbrake’s excellent dealing with traits has to do with its format: Due to its sedan-based underpinnings and low middle of gravity, this Jag turns into extra of a pleasure to drive the windier the highway will get and the more durable you fling it into the subsequent nook. However a few of these exemplary highway manners can, in reality, be credited to a little bit of mechanical trickery. Throughout a short picture cease, I observed the distinct whiff of evaporating brake pads, evidencing that the torque vectoring system was squeezing the within wheel’s calipers to assist rotate the automobile by means of corners. The system’s aggressive countermeasures recommend that spirited drivers would possibly need to price range for accelerated brake put on, because the electronics are working them exhausting to assist counteract two tons of mass.
After practically 200 miles of driving on open freeway and tight mountain roads, the XF S Sportbrake dealt with no matter lowering radius nook I threw in its path, managing to keep away from irksome understeer and ship surprisingly buttoned-down dealing with whereas driving as exhausting as is prudent on public roads. Whereas its F-Tempo stablemate acquits itself effectively contemplating its dimension and top, the Sportbrake simply has the crossover beat in relation to agility and responsiveness, whereas falling simply 1.eight cubic toes wanting its rear cargo capability. That is clearly a driver’s automotive, and by bringing the top-tier drivetrain and trim stage to the States first, Jaguar is interesting to well-heeled pragmatists who get pleasure from driving—precisely the demographic that has traditionally embraced high-end wagons.
Beginning at $70,450, the Jaguar XF S Sportbrake slots inside the realm of premium, performance-focused SUVs such because the Mercedes-AMG GLE43 ($70,500) and Maserati Levante ($72,000). However due to its low middle of gravity and wagon format, the Sportbrake gives a connection to the highway that can encourage a completely totally different emotional response from drivers. Whereas the Mercedes E400 Wagon gives related benefits over its SUV stablemates, the Jaguar feels a bit livelier and entertaining on twisty roads. Then again, the Volvo V90 gives an oasis of up to date design, one whose zen-like inside and Scandinavian sparseness gives a counterpoint that appears to beg the query, “Why drive quick when you may simply chill and benefit from the drive?”
Whereas many will write off the XF S Sportbrake due to its acquainted platform (or, likelier, as a result of the overwhelming majority of consumers choose the crossover type issue), the driver-focused minority who go for this dark-horse wagon can be in for an surprising deal with.
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