Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Conventional line-up of combustion engines
  • No hybrid or electric powertrain to choose from
  • Three-output Ingenium diesel engines to please all

There’s a choice of five engines with four- and six-cylinder diesel and petrol units on offer, plus manual and automatic gearboxes, and rear- or four-wheel drive.

Petrol-engined selection

Just the one option here – a 2.0-litre, four cylinder, 250hp motor with rear-wheel drive and an auto ‘box as standard – it’s a shame the UK doesn’t get the lustier V6 motor.

Still, 365Nm of torque from 1,200rpm is nothing to be sniffed at, nor a 7.1-second 0-62mph time. We’ve driven this engine in other JLR cars and while it doesn’t make the most exciting of noises, it’s fast enough for most drivers, and tops out at 150mph.

Popular suite of diesels

The bulk of the XF Sportbrake sales will be Ingenium 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel cars, and as such there are three different versions to choose from.

Entry-spec is a 163hp car with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive. You get 380Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, a 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds (the auto takes an extra tenth), plus a top speed of 132mph.

While this is the worthiest and cleanest of XF Sportbrake powerplants, it’s also the slowest, and probably worth overlooking unless low CO2 is a real selling point.

In the middle is a 180hp auto-only version with rear- or four-wheel drive, offering a good balance of performance and economy.

It develops 430Nm of torque at 1,750rpm and takes 8.8 seconds to go from 0-62mph (8.9 for the AWD), while the top speed is 136mph.

Most powerful diesel options

Our favourite version has 240hp and 500Nm of torque, and comes with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox as standard. This takes just 6.7 seconds to race from 0-62mph and tops out at 150mph.

Jaguar thinks this will be the best-selling model and it’s easy to see why, thanks to its near-six-cylinder performance and four-cylinder running costs.

If, however, you want proper six-cylinder performance then Jaguar has you covered with the 300hp, 3.0-litre V6. This one is automatic and rear-wheel drive as standard, and generates a mighty 700Nm of torque.

Twin turbochargers means a model-best 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds and top speed of 155mph, although running costs inevitably take a hit.

Gearboxes and drivetrains

The gearbox choice is relatively straightforward because only the 163hp diesel gives you a six-speed manual option; otherwise you’re pigeonholed into an eight-speed auto. That’s no hardship though because it’s realistically the transmission of choice.

Smooth and seamless in its shifting, the auto ‘box can also be sharpened up in sportier Dynamic mode, or controlled directly using steering wheel-mounted paddles.

There’s a mix of rear- or four-wheel drive (AWD-badged) drivetrains, although again some models restrict your choice to one or the other.

We’ve only driven an AWD car and were thoroughly impressed with the amount of grip on offer, but also how it felt more rear-biased than an Audi A6, for example. We’ll go into that in more detail in the Handling section.

  • Choice of rear- and four-wheel drive variants
  • Strong grip levels and composed body control
  • Handles and drives as a Jaguar should

Regardless of whether you pick rear- or four-wheel drive, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake was designed to handle like the saloon car, despite being about 115kg heavier.

Helping to maintain the four-door’s composure, even with a Smeg fridge in the boot, is a standard self-levelling air suspension set up at the back. Otherwise the chassis is business as usual.

We’ve only driven the four-wheel drive variant and really rate the way it handles – high grip levels and good body control inspire confidence, making the XF feel solid and poised in the bends.

Near-perfect weight distribution gives an agile and balanced feel too, and you’ll notice that when you turn the front wheels into a corner, where the XF Sportback feels pointy thanks to its fast steering and low weight.

Cornering technology enhances handling

Four-wheel drive cars can split their power 50/50 between the front and rear axles, but in normal running conditions most of it goes rearwards. As a result the XF Sportbrake feels predominately rear driven until it starts to lose traction, at which point the AWD system shunts torque forwards.

A system called Intelligent Driveline Dynamics works to eliminate understeer (where the front wheels lose grip in a corner) or the need for the stability control to intervene by cutting the power. As a result, you can take corners at higher speeds and get back on the power sooner without interruption, making the Jaguar XF Sportbrake a fun and responsive car to drive.

Optional adaptive damper technology monitors body movements 100 times per second so it can optimise the suspension set up for the type of road you are on, improving comfort and handling, while the Configurable Dynamics package (also an option on automatic cars) allows you to tailor the steering, throttle and gearshift modes manually.