If you follow the automotive news from time to time, you will notice that this industry has a notable rising trend these days: station wagons. Mercedes-Benz is constantly refreshing its own wagon model while Porsche recently transformed its critically acclaimed Panamera into a very sexy wagon.
So, what is happening? Station wagons are recovering their old days’ glory, captivating a younger generation with notably high purchasing power. Many of the customers that are putting their money on station wagons these days are looking for considerable luxury. That’s why Mercedes-Benz is thriving in this market right now.
However, the German carmaker is facing more competition every year as other high-end brands are venturing with their own wagons. Now is the turn for Jaguar. This British company has recently announced the 2018 XF Sportbrake for the US market, which is exciting news for those who bet on this format.
In the past, Jaguar already tried a couple of times with wagons and wagon-like models, especially in the UK. But those were unsuccessful ventures, with little results for the company. Now, in this new golden age for wagons, Jaguar may be facing a valuable opportunity to make the most.
The 2018 XF Sportbrake was already announced before for the UK and European markets. However, making the jump and landing on the United States is something we must categorize as exciting and remarkable. This kind of wagon may change the game for this particular segment and end up pushing forward a rising trend that is about to be consolidated in most major markets worldwide.
Now, let’s get into the details.
Don’t let the 2018 XF Sportbrake fools you with its family-friendly appearance. In order to compete with its most direct rival in the segment, the Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC, Jaguar needed to pack enough power. To accomplish this, we are getting a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 which produces 380 horsepower and a maximum torque of 332 lb-ft. This power output represents a clear advantage over the Mercedes model as the XF Sportbrake has 51 more horsepower.
To complete the power setup, Jaguar added the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission we all know. According to the announcement, the 2018 XF Sportbrake will go from zero to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 5.3 seconds. Unfortunately, the top speed, with all this power and acceleration, is electronically limited to 121 mph (195 km/h). The reason for this nonsense is still unknown, as the wagon has enough power and aerodynamic capabilities to move way faster than that.
Let’s remember that the 2018 XF Sportbrake continues to be an XF, which is an outstanding sedan. This heritage means that Jaguar took many of the components in the sedan for the construction of the fresh wagon. However, it was impossible to simply take the very same components and make them work in a different format.
The suspension on the 2018 XF Sportbrake is a retuned version of the original XF one, adding the needed to achieve wagon-like capacities. Some examples of this are the updated front dampers and self-leveling air springs.
Another key aspect that the 2018 XF Sportbrake shares with the base model is the all-wheel drive layout. This system includes a rear-biased torque distribution with slip detection-and-prediction feature for smart torque transfer to both axles. This comes along with the Configurable Dynamics suite, which allows in-depth steering, transmission, and throttle mapping adjustment. As expected, this feature also works through preset driving modes.
Becoming a Capable Wagon
Even in comparison with previous XF wagons, the 2018 XF Sportbrake has notably evolved. Let’s start with its body. The entire structure has been optimized in order to achieve an almost perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution. To achieve this, Jaguar added a single-piece polymer liftgate, also making the structure stiffer. On the roof, this wagon can carry up to 220 pounds (100 kg) without breaking a sweat.
Inside we get what a proper wagon should offer every single time to its customers. There is abundant space, for both passengers and cargo. Jaguar went the extra mile with the cargo area, now remarkably optimized to take care of abundant grocery or, in a more optimistic scenario, the bags needed for your vacation. In numbers, the users are getting 32 cubic feet of storage.
Technology at Its Best
All the luxury station wagons we can see right now in the market are surprisingly interested in offering high-end gadgets, many of them absent in very expensive sedans. The 2018 XF Sportbrake is not the exception to this as it offers a wide array of techy features that will fascinate most customers.
Among the expected, we find a 17-speaker 825-watt Meridian sound setup, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen as standard, a 10-inch touchscreen as optional, and 4G LTE capacity for up to 8 devices. More peculiar gadgets are a RFID activity key, an air purifier that comes as optional, and a gesture-based tailgate mechanism.
In terms of safety, the 2018 XF Sportbrake will enjoy adaptive cruise control, fatigued-driver detection, intelligent speed limiter based on traffic signs, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning with a lane-keeping assist, and much more.
The Bottom Line
The 2018 XF Sportbrake represents a wise strategy from Jaguar, betting on the station wagon segment with the luxury and quality they have mastered already. The nature of this announcement, especially when we refer to the wagon’s entry in the US, means plenty for this rising segment, which is quickly growing and becoming surprisingly popular.
More and more brands are joining this segment. However, today our focus is on the 2018 XF Sportbrake and the efforts that Jaguar is making to compete in a very complex, almost experimental market, where Mercedes-Benz seems to be the dominant brand so far.
This station wagon from the British carmaker is a solid bet to compete with the highly popular E400 4MATIC, as we mentioned before. Nonetheless, there is a huge challenge when things are put this way. Mercedes-Benz continues to have the upper hand with the AMG E63 S, the enhanced wagon based on the E400. This AMG version brings more power, more technology, and more fun on the road.
By itself, the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a fantastic option. But in the meanwhile, the lineup will not feel complete to compete without a high-performance version of the same wagon, just like Mercedes-Benz has. Fortunately, Jaguar is no stranger to these enhanced versions; they have the SVR lineup, widely present among Land Rover vehicles.
The base price starts at US$71,445, which is considerably more money than its German competitor. But before saying that this is a clear disadvantage, it may be a good idea to compare the specs in depth.