We colonials call them “station wagons,” but the Brits call them “estates” or “shooting-brakes.” The latter name seems to have originated with vehicles that carried aristocrats and their firearms and dogs on hunting parties. Jaguar’s riff on the name is attached to a new-for-2018 variant of its midsize XF sedan.
The Sportbrake’s sleek styling, AWD, and 380-hp V6 will seduce anyone who enjoys driving. The engine is supercharged, meaning the compressor that shoots extra air into the cylinders is belt-driven, unlike a turbocharger that’s spun by exhaust gases. Response to the accelerator pedal is quick, producing abundant power. The Sportbrake’s low-slung body and responsive steering make it a real corner-carver. Yet it’s practical transport, too: There’s adequate room for two adults in the backseat, and with rear seat backs down, there’s nearly 70 cubic feet of cargo room.
Like other modern Jags, the XF has silly features such as a gearshift knob that emerges from and recedes into the center console when the ignition is switched on and off. The biggest gripe: the jaw-dropping $71,000 price tag, given that the XF sedan starts at about $48,000.
But the Sportbrake has the automaker’s top-o’-the-line engine plus lots of standard advanced safety features. And it proves that a station wagon can, indeed, be sexy.
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Vehicle layout: 3.0-liter V6 (380 hp), 8-speed automatic, AWD
MSRP, base model: $71,445; (as tested: $84,245)
MPG, city/hwy/combined: 18/25/21
Crash-test ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated
Spare tire: Compact temporary
Final assembly: United Kingdom
Basic warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles