A Jaguar wagon? Yep, the Sportbrake is the new wagon version of the midsize luxury XF sedan. Instead of a trunk, there’s a hatchback.
Wagons have been popular in Europe for years, while compact crossovers are the top choice for Americans. But wagons are making a comeback here with offerings from Audi, Buick, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo, and, of course, the Subaru Outback. Now Jaguar joins in by offering the 2018 Sportbrake in the U.S.
The five-passenger Sportbrake is available in S and First Edition trims with starting prices from $70,450 to $72,100. All-wheel-drive is standard. Packages and extras can send the price up in a hurry.
It’s sleek and low with an aggressive front grill, setting it apart from all of the crossovers and SUVs on the roads today. “What is that? I didn’t know Jaguar made a wagon!” is a phrase I heard many times during my week-long test drive.
The Sportbrake drives like a Jaguar. When you’re behind the wheel of a wagon, you may not be expecting this kind of effortless acceleration and smooth power. It’s powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Jaguar says it can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. There are Normal, Eco and Dynamic and Adaptive Surface Response drive modes.
There’s plenty of power for spirited driving. Touch the accelerator and the eight-speed seems to instantly shift down a gear so you’re ready to merge with freeway traffic or get into the passing lane. The Sportbrake begs to be taken out on twisty back roads. It feels planted when cornering and the bolstered front seats keep you in place. The ride is fairly firm, especially in Dynamic mode. While the engine doesn’t have the sweet growl of the F-Type, it still emits a pleasing whine when you accelerate quickly.
The Sportbrake accelerates so quickly and smoothly and is so much fun to drive that it would be easy to get yourself in trouble. I was always checking the speedometer to make sure I was complying with the speed limit!
Visibility is hampered to the sides and rear because of the thick A pillars and smallish rear window. I relied on the rear-view and 360-degree camera system.
I always appreciate the theatrics of getting behind the wheel of a Jaguar. The start/stop button pulses like a beating heart, inviting you to start the engine. Then the rotary gear shift lifts up out of the center stack so you can put the Sportbrake into drive or reverse. The air vents rotate up once the HVAC system is turned on.
EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with a combined rating of 21 mpg. I got 21 during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is modern and upscale with a clean layout. Leather seating is standard. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Passengers in both rows of seating enjoy good leg- and headroom. Even taller passengers will be comfortable in the back seat. There’s a huge moonroof, stretching across much of the roof, which gives the cabin an open and airy feel.
Standard features in the S trim include keyless entry, push button start, rearview camera, a 380-watt Meridian Sound System, power gesture tailgate, the huge moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, interior mood lighting, heated front seats, eight-inch InControl infotainment system and touchscreen, satellite radio, navigation, and iPod integration. Standard driver assistance technologies include Lane Keep Assist and Driver Condition Monitor, Blind Spot and Rear Traffic Monitor, Reverse Traffic Detection and Front and Rear Parking Aids.
The First Edition trim adds a gesture roof blind, Jaguar’s activity key, 10-inch TouchPro infotainment system with navigation, 12.3-inch driver display, Wi-Fi hotspot and 825-watt Meridian surround sound system.
The infotainment system lags behind what’s offered by competitors. It can be slow to respond, and simple functions, such as changing the radio station, can require navigating through menus and submenus. The small icons at the bottom of the screen are difficult to touch while driving.
The Sportbrake has 31.7 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 69.7 cubes with the rear seats folded. That’s as good as or better than many compact crossovers. The low ground clearance means you don’t have to lift cargo as high off the ground. The 40/20/40 split-rear seats provide flexibility in hauling passengers and cargo. You can set a maximum opening height for the tailgate to prevent damage in areas where height is restricted, such as in car parks and garages.
A wagon that performs like a Jaguar should
Modern, upscale cabin
Comfortable and supportive seating
Spendy with a starting price of over $70,000
Price can climb quickly with options
Infotainment system lags behind competitors
My tester starts at $70,450. Firenze Red metallic paint is $565. The Black Exterior Package is $360 and adds a gloss black grille and grille surround, side vents and tailgate finisher. The Technology package is $3,265 and adds a 10-inch Touch Pro System with navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot, interactive driver display, CD/DD player and 825-watt Meridian surround sound system. The Driver Assistance package is $3,495 and adds adaptive cruise control, with queue assist, traffic sign recognition, adaptive speed limiter, 360-degree parking aid, surround camera system, blind spot assist and park assist (parallel, perpendicular and exit).The Comfort and Convenience package is $1,805 and ads heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and soft door close. The Premium Interior Upgrade package is $2,860 and adds four zone climate control, manual rear sunblind, suedecloth premium headliner, front and rear premium carpet mats, illuminated tread plates and configurable adaptive lighting in 10 colors. 20-inch wheels with gloss black finish are $1,020. Delivery fee is $995 bringing the grand total to $84,815.
Wagons make sense for active families, offering the functionality of an SUV and the drivability of a sedan. The Sportbrake can be called the wow wagon. It offers practicality, style and Jaguar performance in one package. Buyers who have upwards of seventy grand and want something different from a luxury crossover or SUV should check it out.