The Shooting Brake design used to be the preserve of bespoke Aston Martins built for country gents and owners of wealthy Arab states, but now Jaguar has chosen the format for its most versatile model, the XF Sportbrake.
Sharing its underpinnings with the XF saloon, the Sportbrake’s overall length grows by just 5mm, its weight by less 70kg and its chassis structure matches the strength of the conventional XF. These characteristics mean the Sportbrake can closely match the handling of the XF saloon yet offers a large and highly practical load space.
Every panel on the XF Sportbrake, from the B-Pillar rearwards, is new. The strong silver signature line running the length of the car is extended while the C-Pillar is finished in gloss black, a trait shared with the XJ saloon.
Slim rear light units extend into a strong chrome cross-member that dominates the rear of the car. The result is a car that blends style and function with the rear seat occupants benefitting from 48mm of extra rear headroom.
The large, practical tailgate can be specified with power struts, opening to reveal a wide and highly versatile load space. Measuring 550-litres with the rear seats up, the boot is framed by a set of useful cubby compartments. With the seats folded, the total volume grows to 1,675-litres.
Practical touches are prevalent throughout the XF Sportbrake. Remote fold levers are mounted within the boot area to lower the rear seats – negating the need to stretch into the boot. Powerful LEDs throw a pool of light onto the ground when the boot is open while the tailgate itself features a soft close function.
Set into the boot floor is a panel that splits into three sections to allow smaller loads to be neatly wedged and avoiding precious or fragile cargo being thrown about, whilst a tray mounted under the boot floor helps protect valuable items.
The oily bits
Beneath the car there are extensive changes to the rear suspension – with self-levelling air suspension aiding the Sportbrake’s driving dynamics whilst also enabling it to serve as an accomplished tow vehicle.
Powering the XF Sportbrake will be Jaguar’s efficient yet powerful diesel engines in 2.2-litre four cylinder and 3.0-litre six-cylinder form, each directing drive through the rear wheels via an advanced eight-speed automatic gearbox.
No further engines have been announced at this stage, but it seems likely that an XFR Sportbrake will join the range sometime during 2013.
Prices and specifications will be announced nearer the time of the launch of the Sportbrake, which is set to take place in the autumn of 2012.