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New Jaguar XF Sportbrake Estate
Jaguar has revealed the 2012 (2013 model year in the US) XF Sportbrake estate prior to its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show next Tuesday. The new Jaguar XF Sportbrake has an on sale release date of summer 2012 with prices expected to start from around £32,500.
Why has Jaguar launched the XF Sportbrake?
Jaguar has developed the load-lugging XF Sportbrake estate to compete in a popular and ever-growing executive car sector. Wagon-type cars are particularly popular in Europe, where BMW has offered Touring models and Audi has sold Avant versions for years.
The Sportbrake is only Jaguar's second estate (following the 2004 X-Type estate), but easily its most thoroughly developed: despite sharing the saloon's wheelbase, it is different from the B-pillar rearwards, and has been the product of several years' conception.
What's the big news about the Jaguar XF Sportbrake?
A big load bay, that's what. The load-lugging new Jaguar boasts up to 1,675 litres of load space (almost matching the Audi A6 Avant), and a load bay no less than 1,970mm long. It's 1,064mm wide so can take sets of golf clubs stored sideways, and it's all accessed via a soft-close tailgate that also has fully electric operation.
There's more space in the rear thanks to 48mm more headroom and the rear seatback, which contains an integral ski hatch, is split 60:40 - the seats can also be folded in one touch by tugging a remote-fold lever just inside the tailgate.
How does the Jaguar XF Sportbrake differ to the XF saloon?
Jaguar describes the XF Sportbrake's side window graphic as being a Jaguar signature in its most elegant and elongated form. Surrounded by a bright polished finish, it tapers down to meet a rising side shoulderline that helps emphasise the bold rear haunches of the XF Sportbrake.
This effect also makes it look as if the rear roofline is tapering towards the tail, which Jaguar picks out by finishing the rear pillars in gloss black finishers not unlike those on the XJ saloon. The wraparound effect blends with the heavily tinted rear screen to, adds Jaguar, mimic the superstructure of luxury yachts.
It all gives the elongated roof the appearance of floating above the rear screen, an effect Jaguar accentuates with a standard rear roof spoiler for all models. The rear tail lights mimic those on the XF saloon, complete with the distinctive night-time LED lighting effect.
"Creating the Sportbrake was a great opportunity for us to extend the XF's design aesthetic," said Jaguar Design studio director Wayne Burgess.
"The flow and connection of lines that lead the eye around the car result in an entirely practical estate car consistent with Jaguar's reputation for drama and elegance."
Has Jaguar altered the suspension of the XF Sportbrake?
Jaguar has acknowledged the fact XF Sportbrake may carry heavy loads by fitting standard self-leveling air suspension. These replace the coil springs used by the standard XF saloon, and help maintain the car's ride and handling no matter what the load. Optional Jaguar Adaptive Dynamics suspension is available too.
Not only does the XF Sportbrake match the XF saloon for aerodynamic drag, it also boasts the same torsional stiffness and, thus, dynamic handling ability, promises Jaguar. This means it should - in theory - be just as impressive as the XF saloon to drive despite now being the most practical Jaguar XF yet.
What engines does the Jaguar XF Sportbrake use?
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake boasts a diesel-only engine range. The four-cylinder and V6 engines are exactly the same as the XF saloon: it comprises 2.2-litre four-cylinder and a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 in either 240hp or 275hp guise. All are mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
What else has Jaguar done to the load bay of the XF Sportbrake?
Jaguar has fitted a floor rail system along either side of the XF Sportbrake's load floor. Nets and retailing bars can be fitted using this: it's similar to the mounting system aircraft seats are locked into.
The centre section of the load floor also lifts up to reveal a hidden storage compartment. This central section can fold and lock into position to help divide up the load bay, too.
The load space is also trimmed in materials of exactly the same grade used elsewhere in the XF's cabin. No lower-grade plastics or fabrics in evidence here: that's how seriously Jaguar has worked to ensure the XF Sportbrake creates a premium image.
Oh, and if Jaguar's tow bar is fitted, it can be removed when not in use and stowed in a special section inside the boot. A rear valence cover hides the slot when not in use - and when it's fitted, the ESP stability control system switches to a special Trailer Sway Mitigation programme, which reduces the risk of 'snaking' when towing.
The car will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next week - join us on Tuesday for full coverage.
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