So that you assume the station wagon is lifeless. If “alive” means almost one million gross sales a 12 months and 25 or 30 choices to select from, because it was from the late 1960s by way of the mid-‘70s, then, yeah, the wagon might be lifeless. On the very least we’re 4 a long time past peak wagon.
But if alive means a small however secure chunk of vehicle gross sales, then the wagon ain’t lifeless but. Residents of the US will purchase roughly 200,000 station wagons in 2017, counting crossover issues just like the Subaru Outback, VW Golf Alltrack and Audi A4 Allroad. The station wagon stays a doubtlessly worthwhile area of interest, and Jaguar desires in.
Witness the 2018 XF Sportbrake. The Sportbrake is the second XF property, as our buddies within the U.Ok. prefer to name them, however the first provided in North America. It’s constructed from the mid-size XF sedan, which was overhauled for 2016 if you happen to hadn’t seen, and the Sportbrake makes no pretense towards being a crossover factor.
The crossing over can be left to Jaguar’s hot-selling F-Tempo SUV and the forthcoming E-Tempo compact. The Sportbrake, based on designer Wayne Burgess, was developed for individuals who need extra space to hold stuff however expressly don’t need elevated experience top—maybe as a result of they wish to make it simpler for pets to climb aboard, or as a result of they simply can’t abide by the next heart of gravity. There’s one thing to be mentioned for that.
The Sportbrake is equivalent in size, width and wheelbase to the aluminum-intensive XF sedan, and will probably be provided stateside solely within the XF’s driver-oriented S trim. Meaning Jaguar’s acquainted supercharged three.Zero-liter V6 (380 horsepower, 332 pound-feet of torque), a ZF-sourced eight-speed torque-converter computerized, light-weight all-wheel drive system (simply 45 kilos for the facility take-off and entrance diff) and electronically managed adaptive shock absorbers. To advertise a pleasant, flat load ground and preserve a good keel when it’s totally loaded, the Sportbrake will get its personal self-leveling rear air suspension.
The remaining variations are the plain ones, beginning with the Sportbrake’s longer glass wagon roof. Jaguar engineers say they went to nice lengths to attenuate the Sportbrake’s weight acquire, making use of denser, lighter acoustic insulation, barely thinner aluminum for the aspect panels and a single-piece composite tailgate. Nonetheless, with the heavy glass roof, air suspension parts and varied wagon accoutrements, the Sportbrake provides barely greater than 200 kilos to the XF S sedan’s curb weight.
That weight acquire has some worth in its personal proper. The XF sedan, famous for its close to 50/50 weight steadiness, is definitely biased barely towards the entrance. The Sportbrake shifts that bias rearward, to a Ferrari-like 47/53.
Then there’s the cargo quantity underneath the Sportbrake’s lengthy roof. It has 32 cubic toes of house behind its rear seat, in comparison with about 19 cubic toes within the XF sedan’s trunk and 33.5 cubic toes within the F-Tempo SUV, which occurs to be one of many roomiest in its class. Decrease the Sportbrake’s rear seatbacks, and there stays a superbly flat load ground at the least 42 inches broad stretching to the entrance seatbacks. There’s additionally 69.7 cubic toes of quantity, or about 5 cubic toes greater than the F-Tempo with its rear seat folded. Rear passengers within the Sportbrake get a bit extra knee room and a pair of.75 inches extra headroom than these an XF sedan.
The wagon accoutrements embrace a gesture-operated tailgate with programmable elevate top and LED puddle lights, 40/20/40 cut up rear seatback, rear seat folding mechanism on the tailgate, a cargo blind, 4 tie-down factors on the load ground and flush-mounted rails within the load house that accommodate a spread of equipment. If there isn’t sufficient room inside, the Sportbrake’s roof rails will assist 220 kilos. And whereas it received’t be tow-rated in North America, the XF wagon will be fitted to drag about four,000 kilos in Europe. We’d guess it’s appropriate for towing right here, too, if you wish to set up a hitch. The one factor to fret about is your guarantee.
Jaguar Land Rover has began XF Sportbrake manufacturing at its Fort Bromwich plant in England, and the primary U.S. spec vehicles are due by the tip of the 12 months. At $71,445 with the $995 vacation spot cost, the Sportbrake S comes with commonplace entrance and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise management. Act shortly and also you would possibly snag one in all 20 First Version Sportbrakes—all painted metallic Farallon Black. These will add tools that’s elective on the S, together with Jaguar’s wearable Exercise Key bracelet, an 825-watt Meridian stereo, wifi hotspot and a management characteristic that enables front-seat occupants to function the roof shade by waving a hand in entrance of the mirror.
Jaguar isn’t speaking Sportbrake gross sales quantity—neither complete nor share of all XF sales—but it received’t quantity to many vehicles. At 20 % of all U.S. XF gross sales, the Sportbrake would barely break 1000 per 12 months.
Jaguar isn’t bringing the Sportbrake to North America to significantly enhance quantity. It’s doing so to attempt to reset the low-profile XF among the many E-Lessons, 5-Collection and A6s of the world. The Sportbrake is the form of car that builds model loyalty and re-affirms an organization’s soul, and it ought to solely assist Jaguar proceed to claw its approach again into the consciousness of American luxury-car patrons.
It would sound trite or cliché to say, however it’s true: The XF Sportbrake encapsulates what we like (and like much less) about Jaguar’s present sedan lineup. With much more room to hold stuff.
Its three.Zero-liter supercharged V6 is stout, if not significantly luxurious—considerably extra highly effective than the engine in equally slotted rivals just like the Mercedes E400 wagon and Volvo V90, and filled with completely satisfied acceleration. The issue is that the sound this V6 generates does nothing to make the motive force wish to work it. It may be loud in dissatisfying fashion, and an impenetrably thick wall of noise at full bore.
The noise you’ll be able to reside with, given the megawatt audio and the XF’s common quietude at mild throttle. The larger downside is that it often takes a cut up second for the completely satisfied acceleration to materialize. The Sportbrake’s eight-speed computerized is sluggish to kick down, and typically even in sport mode. We’d guess this is perhaps realized habits, in that the algorithms aren’t essentially anticipating full gas whenever you punctuate stretches of regular, light-throttle operation with deep jabs on the gasoline pedal. However even handbook shifts can really feel imprecise and fewer than authoritative. Provided that this computerized is completely satisfying in a number of different vehicles, together with some Jaguars from an earlier period, one has to assume that the Sportbrake’s uninspired shift administration has one thing to do with Jaguar’s tuning or final targets (which largely escape us).
That’s about as troubling because it will get, and the great things is admittedly good, as a result of the Sportbrake’s lackluster powertrain dynamics are greater than balanced by its chassis. This wagon is crisp, athletic and almost completely sorted, and it will get down the street with a dexterity many superb luxurious sedans (or wagons) can’t match—significantly these fitted with all-wheel drive. The Sportbrake’s steering is mild, however it rolls off heart authoritatively, perhaps completely, with no trace of nervousness. If its brake-vectoring axles are serving to it monitor steadily by way of bends, you’ll by no means discover past an occasional whiff of brake mud.
Driving the Sportbrake by way of canyons and switchbacks is an natural, satisfying expertise regardless of how briskly you’re going (although it helps to carry gears so long as potential), and nothing in its comportment suggests a 4100 pound curb weight. We defy anybody in need of Lewis Hamilton to find out by way of the arse that the Sportbrake weighs a couple of hundred kilos greater than the XF sedan. Its springs really feel agency, to make sure, however stiff, inflexible or uneven usually are not applicable descriptors.
This evaluation would possibly change if the drive route ran southwest from Pittsburgh to Wheeling, quite than over the largely new, hardly ever unhealthy roads round sunny Porto, Portugal, or if U.S.-spec Sportbrakes ship with all-season rubber quite than the game tires on the check automobile. The kernel ought to stay nonetheless: you’ll look lengthy and exhausting for a extra dynamically pleasing drive with comparable utility to the Sportbrake, and also you received’t discover it even in Jaguar’s personal F-Tempo.
The present XF is simply three mannequin years previous, although you won’t assume so sitting statically in one of many entrance seats. The change structure and interface are higher than some and nearly as good as most. The end is wealthy, however the shapes are largely slabs and ornamentation is subdued. There’s nothing to explain as flash. The Jag designers’ pitch is perhaps “classically timeless;’’ others would possibly name it uninteresting or retro. If the Sportbrake have been the automobile, this man wouldn’t be delay by the cabin remedy, however that comes all the way down to what one desires from life.
Within the scheme of Teutonic-influenced luxurious sedans, the Jaguar XF is an outlier. Given the shopping for public’s restricted appreciation for wagons, the XF Sportbrake most likely strikes additional towards the perimeter. Whereas its engine/transmission can sometimes annoy, the Sportbrake’s experience/dealing with steadiness and its usefulness as every day transportation could also be past reproach.
The very best factor to say concerning the XF, wagon roof or in any other case, is that it’s straightforward to search out its soul. Because the age of the SUV approaches the daybreak of autonomous mobility, clear and apparent soul shouldn’t be minimized.
On Sale: December 2017
Base Value: $71,445
Powertrain: three.Zero-liter supercharged V6, eight-speed computerized, AWD
Output: 380 hp @ 6,500, 332 lb-ft @ four,500
Curb Weight: four,045 lbs
Zero-60 MPH: 5.three sec (producer)
Gasoline Financial system: 20 mpg metropolis, 27 freeway (projected EPA)(EPA Metropolis/Hwy/Mixed)
Execs: The hauling house of a mid-size SUV with the lightness and athleticism of a Jag sedan
Cons: A powertrain that doesn’t fairly ship the complete pleasure its horsepower ranking guarantees