2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake: Bringing wagons back to the States [First Look]

2018 Jagaur XF Sportbrake (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

As we drove past, you could see the heads turn to watch us. Again and again this happened. People walking down the street. People in other cars. They all seemed to pause and stare.

When we got out of the vehicle, the more curious walked up to us and asked questions.

It was kind of weird really.

We were in the middle of an auto lovers Mecca, the Amelia Concours D’ Elegance, where McLarens, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces abound, and yet people wanted to know about the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake, which is – for lack of a better term – a station wagon.

For all the attention we received during our weekend with Jaguar, two things were clear. First, Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum knocked this design out of the park.

Second, the United States might just be ready to welcome back the wagon.

Though, of course, don’t call it a wagon.

The new XF Sportbrake is based on the XF sedan, which was all-new in 2016, and it shares the same wheelbase and general proportions. In fact, even though it more than doubles the cargo space, it is only 0.1 inch longer.

I have long been a fan of the hatchback or wagon for its functionality. And while some automakers opt to create sedan-like “sportbacks” or flat-out 5-door hatches, few have ventured into the “wagon” arena in the last few years.

However, my personal opinion is this is the perfect vehicle for a family on the go. During the week it’s a sleek and elegant commuter car, but on the weekend it turns into a family car that can carry luggage and passengers alike.

It has the sporty ride and handling of a sedan but the functional utility of a compact SUV.

Plus, the interior appointments and amenities are top notch – as they should be for a vehicle that bases at $70,450.

While the XF sedan has multiple-trim availability, the XF Sportbrake is only available at the top-tier S trim. This means it also has the top-tier engine, a supercharged V-6 that delivers 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.

And, frankly, this is what makes the XF Sportbrake so fun to drive. The acceleration is smooth and seamless, going from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds.

With the normal driving mode in place, the XF Sportbrake is quick and nimble, but as soon as you pop it over into dynamic mode, the suspension tightens up, the throttle response quickens, and the exhaust note gets a bit throatier.

I’ll admit I giggled more than once during fast accelerations.

In a station wagon.

The interior amenities are also top notch. The XF Sportbrake comes standard with a power gesture tailgate, lane keep assist, heated front seats, an 8-inch infotainment capacitive touch screen, navigation, 1 USB port, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, push-button start and a rear-view camera.

I really liked the supportive seats – which were incredibly comfortable for the six hours I spent in the driver’s and front passenger’s seat. I also really liked the attention to detail in the reverse-stitched seats and the patterned accents on the dash, doors and console area.

Available features include a pinch-and-zoom navigation system, rear heated seats, heated steering wheel and a gesture-controlled sun shade for the panoramic moonroof.

The vehicle we tested had several up-level features added, including the Technology Package, Comfort and Convenience Package, Luxury Interior Upgrade Package, Driver Assistance Package and Black Package. Really, it seemed like there wasn’t anything else you could or would add to the vehicle, and the as-tested price was $84,815.

I liked all of the available up-level features, and the navigation and infotainment systems are eons above those available in past-generation Jaguars. The four-color graphics are attractive, and the touch screen makes it easy to swipe through the various menu options.

The one nit I have to pick is with the map screen. It’s really easy to pinch and zoom, but once you zoom in on a particular map area, the system ceases to follow the movements of the vehicle rather than pop back out for an overall view or continue to follow the vehicle at a zoomed in level. I’m not sure if this is by design or due to the fact that we were driving early production models, but it was the one thing I did not like out of the entire vehicle.

The Bottom Line

There are boxy and practical wagons currently on the market, but I think Jaguar has come out with the first truly sexy wagon. From the sleek exterior side profile to the elegant interior touches, the XF Sportbrake manages to be both luxurious and functional at the same time.

The tough thing about this vehicle is the price point will put it out of most people’s reach. But those who can afford it will be in for a special treat. The sporty driving dynamics and comfortable seating position make this a fun-to-drive vehicle, which is a good compromise between commuter car and family vehicle.

Though I was slightly aggravated by the map screen, there wasn’t much else I didn’t like about the XF Sportbrake during our brief first look.

The all-new 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake is currently on sale in dealers, and marks the first Jaguar “wagon” on sale in the United States since the X-Type Sportwagon left production in 2008.

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