Big cat purrs
THE days of the big box on wheels estate car has long gone, with motor manufacturers now producing sleek, aerodynamic models, which are still practical, but in many cases, better looking than their saloon equivalent.
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is arguably the best looking of the lot.
The XF has always been an excellent car with its lightweight aluminium body and unique technological touches allied to an excellent range of engines.
But this estate version or Sportbrake if you like, is something that is so easy on the eye.
It retains the curves of the saloon with mesh grille and distinctive bi-function xenon headlights with LED 'J' blade daytime running lights, but the curving roofline with its coupe like profile gives it an even more low-slung predatory look.
The rear tailgate spoiler, stylish alloys and the R-Sport trim and badging to sports front bumper, side sills and boot mounted spoiler, also give a sporty appearance.
The interior is a familiar, but comfortable place to be. It retains signature features like the rotary auto gear selector which rises from the console, pulsing starter button, ambient lighting and revolving air vents, but the latest layout is almost ingenious in its simplicity.
It's a case of less is more with the Touch Pro infotainment system with 10-inch display as standard controlling major functions like connectivity for smart phones, high-end sound system and navigation.
Using a SIM card and the vehicle antenna for the strongest and most reliable signal, the car can also function as a Wi-Fi hotspot, providing a 4G connection for up to eight devices.
As for the rest of the cabin, the sculpted seats, high quality soft touch finish to dash and doors, sudecloth headlining and high quality carpets give a true luxury feel, as does the high quality soft grain Windsor leather trim seats.
The R-Sport trim is also prominent on multi-function steering heel and on the electrically operated and heated seats. Standard goodies on this model include an Infinity Mirror with autodimming function, chrome window surrounds, chrome seat switches on seats, bright metal pedals, illuminated metal treadplates and door mirror puddle lights.
The car is also hugely practical, with a large stowage area accessed from a low loading lip in the boot.
The powered tailgate can even be set to a preferred opening height to protect the lid in low ceiling areas.
A wide flat, rectangular stowage area maximises capacity which increases from 565 litres to a huge 1,700 litres with the 40:20:40 split rear seats folded.
It's agile chassis and lightweight aluminium based architecture also means the car handles beautifully while the precise steering and grip, boosted by the all wheel drive, make it a real driver's car.
The two-litre 240ps engine is powerful yet reasonably frugal, with a claimed 41.5mpg and emissions of 157g/km
Mated to the eight-speed gearbox, the car offers warm, bordering on hot performance, it accelerates well, from 0-60mph in just 6.7 seconds.
Handling is superb with the all wheel drive kicking in where required, while the air suspension keeps it comfortable but composed over even the roughest roads.
The all wheel drive system incorporates Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD), which uses sensors to actively predict rear wheel slip and redistribute torque to prevent loss of traction.
All-wheel drive models also have advanced traction functions to help drivers cope in poor conditions, such as on icy roads or wet grass.
Safety systems on this particular model included forward-facing stereo camera that generates an accurate 3D image of the road ahead while sensor and image processing software provides emergency braking.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Sport 2.0 AWD
Mechanical: 240ps, 1,999cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 150mph
0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 41.5
Insurance Group: 29
C02 emissions: 157g/km
Bik rating: 35%
Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles
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