2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S — Road Test

Posted on Oct 31, 2017 by
2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S
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  • XF Sportbrake S
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  • Last modified: October 31, 2017

Review Summary:

The Brits have decided to introduce the new 2018 model to our region for the first time, offered as an exclusive choice for the customer that wants something a bit different. It drives as well as it looks, but there are niggles too...


Great to drive, with a supercharged engine that responds better than its turbocharged rivals even if it doesn't feel all that powerful, plus it looks gorgeous...


It's not cheap, and the interior quality isn't on par with the Germans, plus you don't get nearly as much tech as you would in a Mercedes or BMW...

Jaguar never offered the first XF Sportbrake in our region, but with this 2018 model update the British carmaker has decided to launch the estate in the Middle East with a choice of  a 2.0-litre rear-drive entry-level model, and this top-spec 3.0-litre V6 with all-wheel drive, which we’ve tested in Portugal…

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Err, guys, the place is called Auto Middle East — why are you testing a station ?

Estate, station wagon, touring, whatever you call it, these things are rare sights on our roads, sure. Besides all the Emirates airline Volvos… But Jaguar reckons there’s a niche, and is presenting the new XF Sportbrake in all-wheel drive and V6 form as a bit of a flagship in the range. Regional representatives tell us they’re going after the Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate (which you can have on order) and the new Audi A4 Avant, which is also coming to our region with a local premiere at the Dubai motor show in a couple of weeks. So it’s a rare thing, an estate, and you know how people in the Gulf like exclusivity.

Right. So what makes this one special?

Well, it’s pretty damn good looking to start with — the coolest part is that when Auto Middle East chatted to the designer, Wayne Burgess, he name drops awesome classics like the Lancia Beta HPE as one of his inspirations. That’s a win in our book any day. It’s a clean unfussed design with rather neat detailing, improved aerodynamics (it has less drag now with a Cd value of 0.29, which is equivalent to something like the Porsche Boxster), and both stiffer and lighter construction. The downside is, the interior is a bit poor…

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Huh? A rubbish interior in a premium car?

We didn’t say rubbish… Everything in context, right — compared to a BMW or Mercedes, yes, Jaguar isn’t even close. The new XF Sportbrake’s cabin is wonderfully designed and all, and the interior provides more space than before (you even get some gadgetry like a gesture controlled panoramic sunroof, so you just wave your hand and the thing opens or closes, although admittedly there’d be nothing wrong with a simple button either) but there’s just so much plastic in there, and it’s not the best sort of plastic either. We found some rough edges too, which is just unacceptable in a car like this, with a badge like Jaguar’s. That’s one area where the Brits need to step things up in the future, because our experience with the F-Pace was similar — we drove a tester with over 10,000km on the clock and the thing still had that new-car smell. Except it smelt of adhesives…

Okay, then… Any good bits?

Lots — most importantly, the all-wheel drive Sportbrake S is a hoot to drive. Really, satisfying and fast, and rewarding for any keen driver. Around Porto and down some of the best roads anywhere (in fact, part of the route took us along the Douro river down the N222 which was voted by a bunch of scientists as the best drivers’ road on the planet using an algorithm and everything, so don’t argue…) with a journalist/racing driver who’d just come off the back of an endurance season finishing second in the championship, and even he revelled in the S. The supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine doesn’t quite have the unhinged propulsion of modern twin-turbocharged rivals, but on the plus side it has the characteristics of a naturally-aspirated engine so that you can drive the S on the throttle, with the power always on call which just feels so good under your right foot.

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Then there’s the handling. It’s superb, with fantastic road holding and such a stable chassis. Most impressive is the way the XF Sportbrake S rides bumpy sections and cambered corners, especially how quickly it settles as the suspension fully compresses or decompresses. It’s highly satisfying and easy to find a good rhythm in the car, without any jerky motions. Presented with a great road and a choice of the Jag or its rivals, we’d take the XF every time.

But what if you were presented with a choice of the Jag and its rivals, to live with and use every day?

That’s a more difficult one. It comes down to the customer, because as Jaguar reps themselves say, this is an individualistic choice. Jaguar is never going to sell the Sportbrake S in any sort of substantial volume, so as an emotionally driven purchase even the price matters less than the design and performance. In any case, for a daily driver it would be quite difficult to ignore the brilliant, all-rounder Merc…

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What else do I need to know?

The 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S will be available in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to begin with, before potentially rolling out to the rest of the Gulf states. It’s not cheap, with a price of AED313,400, which means it’s a fair bit more expensive than the Volvo V90, for example.

Other details include 70mm extra rear headroom, and an increase in cargo capacity to a total of 1,700 litres. Even if you load it up, you’re fine because the rear end gets self-leveling air suspension. Also, there’s a pretty neat latest-generation 10-inch touchscreen from Jaguar Land Rover in there, air conditioning ionisation, mood lighting, and practical, 40:20:40 split rear seats.

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By the way, you forgot the specs…

Oh, right. So the S, with the already mentioned 3.0-litre supercharged V6, makes 380 horsepower and 450Nm of torque driving all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. You’ll see zero to 100km/h reached in 5.5 seconds and a top speed pegged at 250km/h. 

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