Jaguar XF Sportbrake vs rivals

9 May, 2012 3:00pm Joachim Staat

All-new Jaguar XF estate lines up against the BMW 5 Series, with similar space and strong engine choices

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake will take the firm into new territory when it goes on sale in September. It’s the company’s first estate since the X-Type was discontinued in 2009, and is intended to bring the XF to a broader audience. We found out how it measures up to its closest rival, the BMW 5 Series Touring, when we brought them together for a unique head-to-head.

The Sportbrake’s extended roofline allows more headroom for passengers in the rear than in the XF saloon, and if you fold the back seats, the 550-litre boot space can be increased to 1,675 litres.

The BMW’s load capacity is virtually identical – it offers 560 litres or 1,670 litres with the seats folded. But both cars are beaten for space by Mercedes’ E-Class Estate, although the XF trumps the Merc with an internal loading width and length of 1,065mm and 1,970mm respectively.

The Sportbrake’s tailgate features a soft-close electric hinge as standard and can be electrically powered if you pay more – just like the BMW. And both feature a pair of rails in the boot floor to accommodate a raft of nets and dividers.

Wayne Burgess, Jaguar’s lead exterior designer, told us: “We tried to make the loading space as luxurious as the rest of the car. That’s why you’ll find deep carpeting in the boot, ambient lighting and a gorgeous stainless steel plate on the boot lip. Your dog is going to love it in there.” Mechanically, both cars are remarkably similar. Both have an eight-speed automatic gearbox, plus air-suspension with a self-levelling function at the rear (which is standard on the BMW, but an option on the Jaguar).

On the outside, the XF looks sportier than the more reserved BMW. The ornate styling will have widespread appeal: the estate offers a wow factor that blends perfectly with the XF’s front end. The detailing is impressive, too, with LED lights all round and gloss black C and D-pillars paying homage to the flagship XJ saloon.

Inside, both cars are covered in leather, but the Jaguar has more visual flair, with its knurled chrome gear selector and brushed aluminium surfaces. The BMW announces itself with less fanfare, but still has a top-class finish.

The 5 Series offers quality surfaces and switchgear, with clean instrumentation and the excellent iDrive system. There are also pleasing touches like a head-up display – you can’t get this in the Jag – while the seats are better bolstered, too.

The XF Sportbrake is likely to be offered with a choice of three diesel engines, each mated to an eight-speed automatic box. The 161bhp 2.2-litre is set to kick off the range; this offers tax-beating efficiency, with stop-start technology helping it to achieve similar figures to the saloon’s 52.3mpg fuel economy and 149g/km CO2 emissions. It will rival the 520d SE Touring, which has a 181bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel delivering 57.6mpg and 129g/km of CO2.

Drivers wanting more power can go for the 237bhp 3.0-litre V6 Sportbrake, although this has 18bhp less than its rival, the 530d, and will offer 44.8mpg and 169g/km CO2 emissions, compared to the BMW’s 51.4mpg and 145g/km.

At launch, the new range is set to be topped by the XF S Sportbrake. This is expected to offer a 271bhp version of the 3.0-litre diesel, and will match the 308bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder 535d Touring for torque, with both cars offering 600Nm. Yet the Jag is set to weigh less and should deliver similar performance, getting close to the 535d’s 5.5-second 0-62mph sprint time. The Sportbrake should carry a £3,000 premium over the XF, starting at around £33,000.

How the new XF estate compares

Audi A6 Avant
Audi A6 Avant
Priced from: £32,455
Boot (seats up): 565 litres
Boot (seats down): 1,680 litres
Length: 4,926mm

BMW 5 Series Touring
BMW 5 Series Touring
Priced from: £32,305
Boot (seats up): 560 litres
Boot (seats down): 1,670 litres
Length: 4,907mm

Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Priced from: £33,000 (est)
Boot (seats up): 550 litres
Boot (seats down): 1,675 litres
Length: 4,961mm

Mercedes E-Class Estate
Mercedes E-Class Estate
Priced from: £31,485
Boot (seats up): 695 litres
Boot (seats down): 1,950 litres
Length: 4,895mm