Jaguar reminds us why the station wagon is far from dead, with a big cat that can do all the practical things an SUV can do — but one that retains head turning looks and sublime performance.
This one, the XF Sportbrake First Edition, comes with the lot and then some. The idea is that if you want one of these cars, now is the time to get it because the deal will never be as sweet.
That’s because the 1st Edition is offered for only the first 12 months of sales, or until stock as they say runs out.
Sportbrake by the way is what they call their wagons, a spin off of the historical term ‘shooting brake’ — look it up. And, get this, it’s exactly 1mm longer than the sedan.
What’s it cost?
Prices for the XF wagon start from $90,400 for a 132kW 2.0-litre diesel.
The same model, with a 184kW 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, is priced from $91,400.
Then comes the top of the line S with a 3.0-litre twin turbo 221kW diesel at $123,450 and finally the 1st Edition with the same power plant but even more kit — priced from $137,300.
There’s leather and four-zone climate air, 19-inch alloys, plus:
S body kit including sports front bumper, Gloss Black side sills, rear valance and Gloss Black Roof Rails
10-way electric Suede/Grained Leather S embossed sport seats
Power Tailgate/Boot Lid
Surround Camera & 360° Parking Aid
Adaptive LED Headlights with Signature DRL
The little extras that come with the 1st Edition include Farallon pearl back paint, power operated tailgate, humongous sun roof, with gesture-activated sun blind, 10-inch infotainment touchscreen and 12.3-inch configurable digital dashboard.
You also get the normally optional Activity wristband that you can take swimming without having to bury the keys in the sand.
It’s nice and safe too, with automatic emergency braking, but even at this price you don’t get the whole shooting match — blind spot alert is extra.
In fact there’s pages of extras.
What’s it go like?
The terms effortless and frugal spring to mind.
With 221kW of power and a seriously impressive 700Nm of torque, it’s got a lot of get up and go — that’s for sure.
The twin turbo V6 diesel is hooked up to an 8-speed auto, with paddle shifts, drive to the rear wheels and selectable drive modes.
The dash from 0-100km/h takes just 6.6 seconds (quick for a diesel) and it has an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h — 0.4 seconds slower than the sedan.
At the same time it uses hardly any fuel, ours did anyway. Rated at a miserly 5.9L/100km, we were getting 6.8 after close to 600km of easy travel.
The Sportbrake’s timing couldn’t have been better, in terms of our test drive. It arrived just in time for our big birthday bash in the NSW Southern Highlands.
You’ll find more Jags down here than the factory where they make them, sitting shiny and resplendent at the end of the crunchy, pebbled driveways, leading to the historic homes that line its leafy streets.
The cashed up old blokes that retire down here, sequestered behind their walled properties, just can’t get enough of the big cats — musicians, media types and company high flyers mostly.
Rolling down the main drag the satnav told us to look for Browley Street and the six-bedroom Manor House, built way back in 1848 before Moss Vale was even gazetted.
It was the main residence of the 270ha “Browley Estate” and was built by the Anglican Rector of Berrima.
The house and car were dare we say the perfect match.
Our guests were to surprised to see a Jag, let alone a wagon — I guess they’re not that common.
Sitting long and low the Sportbrake slides through the air with barely a ripple, the 8-speed auto anticipating changes nicely, negating the need for the paddles.
Driving the car is a relaxing experience, as it should be, but we had to make friends first because the throttle is a little touchy to start with. Too much pressure, too quickly and it leaps forward with a start, drawing a rebuke from she who must be obeyed.
Sitting at 120km/h on the motorway the tacho hovers around the 1300 rev mark, barely ticking over which makes for easy conversation between front and back.
Punt it hard however and it reacts with a growl like the athlete it is, with strong acceleration, precise well-weighted steering, impeccable corner manners and an impressive set of stoppers.
This is the big difference between driving a “car” and a high riding SUV.
The only downside is the lower ride height which lowers the centre of gravity but makes it more difficult to get in and out of than an SUV — a fact that will more than likely fall on deaf ears as far as the target market is concerned.