Review: Jaguar XF Sportbrake;

Useful stuff from the Jaguar XF Sportbrake includes self-levelling rear air suspension and a powered tailgate.
Useful stuff from the Jaguar XF Sportbrake includes self-levelling rear air suspension and a powered tailgate.
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Another successful year closes for Jaguar Land Rover and another begins, with the arrival of improved “Ingenium” engines from its Wolverhampton factory.

The brand has gone from strong to stronger, with both Jaguar and Land Rover piling in with new models. One senses they can sell everything they make without stretching the marketing and PR teams.

A new 2-litre, 4-cylinder 300hp petrol turbo goes into the F-Type to bring down the cost (to £49,000) without any serious drop in excitement. In fact both fun and noise are in bulk supply. Making its debut – the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, the company’s second attempt with an XF estate to lure buyers away from Mercedes-Benz and its German peers. Their English factories are at full stretch and they outsourced the new Sportbrake to the renowned Steyr works in Graz, Austria. Traction is either rear or all-wheel drive. The styling is classier at the back and it comes with the image cachet created by the F-Pace SUV. Look out, too, for the smaller E-Pace in spring, from £28,500 and a dead cert big seller.

JLR held a media showcase in Stoke Poges. This congested, low-speed location in the Home Counties was not ideal. As such, we got a taste of the product rather than a full flavour. It was better suited to the “influencers”. Some of these pseudo journalists charge a day rate for their presence. Beware what you read.

Sportbrake prices begin at £36,660 for a 163hp Prestige automatic. I tried the 240hp R-Sport, a 4-cylinder 2-litre with rear-wheel drive, rated at 48.7mpg and 153g, 0-60mph in 6.4 seconds, and costing £42,435. Useful stuff includes self-levelling rear air suspension and a powered tailgate. For the same price you can choose the 250hp 4-cylinder petrol 2-litre, rated at 41.5mpg, 155g and 0-60 in 6.7 seconds. The engine is silkier than the diesel and avoids worries about diesel taxation down the line.

All-wheel-drive prices start at £39,000 for the 180hp two-litre diesel auto in Prestige trim.

I also tried the XE saloon with the new 3-litre, 380hp supercharged petrol V6 automatic engine, rated at 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, 34.9mpg, 194g. Cost £48,045. Verdict: rear-wheel drive, behave yourself.

For posing, not for driving, was a Country Pursuits Land Rover Discovery, fitted out in the boot with a dog cage for two and locking shotgun cabinet. It’s from the Special Vehicles division and depending on the wood used would cost £10,000 to £15,000. The SV team were being a bit coy about production of this model. I gathered that they are waiting for inquiries. You’ll find them on the internet or on 0203-601 1544.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen continues its triumphant return after the diesel emissions scandal with a new model. Yes, it’s another SUV-cum-crossover, a stablemate to the VW Group’s Seat Arona and Skoda Karoq, both on their way to the UK.

The T-Roc is built in Portugal and marries the familiar group engines and technologies in a plump five-door body akin to the size of a Golf. Its shape is more SUV than hatch with a bit of extra loft and ground clearance but it’s not an off-roader. A 4Motion all-wheel drive system is only offered on the most expensive models.

Pricing starts at £18,950 for the S grade 115hp three-cylinder 1-litre petrol turbo, a mainstay of VW Group models these days. Its eco figures are 55.4mpg and 117g. Our one-hour, flattish test loop near Banbury recorded 37mpg. The 0-62mph time is 10.1 seconds. The other petrol engine is the new 1.5-litre petrol 4-cylinder, rated at 150hp, 52.3mpg, 121g and 0-62 in 8.3 seconds. Prices start at £22,200 in SE grade (£1,775 more than the 1-litre SE). Our test drive over the same route recorded 40mpg.

The sole diesel, the 2-litre 150hp SEL 4Motion, is £28,345 and wasn’t offered for testing. SEL trim is also reserved for the only other 4Motion model, the 190hp 2-litre petrol automatic, at £31,485. This is the only T-Roc with automatic gears.

Also at the media launch was Volkswagen’s flagship Arteon, a very roomy four-door saloon which replaces the slightly smaller Passat CC. This handsome car is aimed at business users, with prices from £31,005 for the 150hp 1.5-litre petrol.