Almost every week you can find enthusiasts in the comments of your favorite automotive news siteschariot champion. It's easy to see why wagons offer more practicality than a sedan in an enticing form factor, while often retaining great handling. Some wagons go even further by linking that practical wagon to brute force. The Jaguar XF S Sportbrake was one of those wagons. It gave drivers that sexy form factor and an aluminum 3.0-liter V6 that put out 380 horsepower. This dream machine raced to 100 km/h in 5 seconds, but fewer than 250 have ever found a home here in America.
Last time upHoly Grail, the Autopian's Daydreaming Designer, the Bishop, reminded us of a rare quirk in the timeline of BMW history. The 7 Series has been BMW's flagship sedan for decades. Historically, the 7 Series has received the latest BMW technology and serious firepower for some time now. Many enthusiasts can point to the glorious V12-powered 750i or the later 760Li, but BMW sold another 7 Series worth considering. The E32 BMW 735i of the late 1980s was the last time you could get your BMW flagship sedan with a manual transmission. These cars offered luxury to the car enthusiast, but so few people bought them that it is estimated that only hundreds were purchased.
Today's grail follows a similar idea.
Some cars are considered the best of their kind by enthusiasts. In theory, a luxury sedan with a manual transmission is enthusiast food. I mean, who wouldn't want a highway cruiser with a compelling transmission? It's also not hard to find someone who sings the car, especially if that car is fast or has a manual transmission. The idea of owning a car with a diesel engine, manual transmission and painted brown is a meme in the automotive world.
In 2018, Jaguar made American buyers a brilliant proposal. This is the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake. This wagon didn't come with a manual transmission, but you did the kind of looks that make you bite your lip, combined with sports car-like performance.
A new era for Jaguar
To tell the XF's story, we have to turn our calendars back to the mid-2000s. Jaguar had for years sold cars with retro designs that nodded to the Coventry carmaker's past of the 1950s and 1960s. As a car and drivernotedin January 2007 Jaguar's sales were falling, money was running out and the then owner, Ford, was considering selling the brand. Something had to change. In 2007, Director of Design Ian Callum teamed up with Head of Advanced Design Julian Thomson to create the C-XF concept car.
This concept car, which was actually a precursor to the XF, took Jaguar styling in a new direction. The brand would not trade in classic designs. Instead, Jaguar would now be selling vehicles with serious sex appeal. Car and driverwentso far as to mention the C-XF"the biggest change for Jaguar in 30 years.” Indeed, this car was not just a replacement for the S-Type, but the beginning of a new era for Jaguar.
The production XF hit the road in September 2007. In Jaguarspress releasethe company realized how important the XF was to its success. At the end of the first paragraph of the XF's release, Jaguar said: "This is the start of a new era for Jaguar.Later in the release, Jaguar said the XF is the first of a new saloon design language for the brand and will have a coupe-like roofline.
The concept called for the production car to be built with an aluminum space frame. However, Jaguar was short on cash, so so was the XFdesignedusing the Ford DEW98 platform that underpinned its S-Type predecessor. Despite that, reviewsto suggestthat the XF was a strong handler with a solid ride, relaxed ride and compelling looks.
Earlier I noted that Ford owned Jaguar and Land Rover. Well, Blue Oval has sold both brands to Tata Motors of India. In 2008, Tata founded Jaguar Land Rover.
In 2015, Jaguar released the sequel to the XF. The second-generation car evolved the already good looks of the XF, but now the XF finally rides on the aluminum platform it should have been from the start. These second generation cars run on the Jaguar Land Rover D7a platform. Here's what Jaguar has to say about the platform, which started life as the Premium Lightweight Architecture:
The aluminum-intensive architecture will be modular and scalable, offering a high degree of flexibility and making it possible to produce a wider range of models and derivatives than ever before. It is lightweight, extremely stiff and incorporates innovative technologies that reflect Jaguar's commitment to sustainability, such as a new high-strength alloy made from almost 100% recycled raw materials.
The architecture is being carefully developed to fully integrate all the vehicle features identified by Jaguar engineers, while the flexibility and scope will give each an individual character. Jaguar's design and engineering teams worked closely together from the outset in development to combine versatile design with a fully competitive interior package.
The flexibility offered by this architecture allows Jaguar designers and engineers to apply the "anything we can imagine, we can create" philosophy to create a new product portfolio that is less constrained by technical or manufacturing constraints.
The new XF made its debut at the 2015 New York International Auto Show and Jaguar's extensive use of aluminum stood out. Look under the XF and you'll find glued and riveted aluminum castings, extrusions and dies. Even the body, with the exception of the doors, boot lid and rear floor pan, is aluminum. Those other parts were steel to help with weight distribution. As a result, the new XF is 75 percent aluminum and 28 percent stiffer than the outgoing XF.
Now the XF as a sedan is already an attractive vehicle. Under the hood, depending on the year, you could find a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four making 247 horsepower, a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four making 180 horsepower, or a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 making 340 horsepower or 380 horsepower, depending on the trim level. I was most surprised by the diesel, especially at a time when diesel was losing steam thanks to Dieselgate.
Despite a diesel engine appearing in the line-up, the grail of the XF is arguably the long roof. Introduced in 2018, the Jaguar XF S Sportbrake took the top-of-the-line version of the XF and gave it a longer roof. Combine that with its aluminum 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 380 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque plus all-wheel drive, and you've got the recipe for a fun car for enthusiasts. These even race to 60 mph in 5 seconds. This car was nominated by David R:
I think my recently bought car is a holy grail.
2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake (wagon) with a 380 hp supercharged V6 and an adaptive suspension. At first it feels like a sports sedan with some luxury in it.
Less than 250 were sold in the US from 2018-2020 and fewer than 100 had the supercharged V6/“S” package. The rest were four cylinders.
It has a smooth, fast-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.
The nice thing about this Holy Grail candidate is that you can still buy one used with the factory warranty remaining (5 years / 60,000 miles).
This wagon is sportier than a Volvo V90 or a Mercedes E-class wagon. Rear seat legroom is also better. I'm 6'2" and my oldest son is taller than me. My youngest son is also tall. Finding a car or wagon that we can all drive is a challenge.
The roof is largely made of glass. while it doesn't open, it actually adds headroom versus most moon and sunroofs that subtract headroom. And it lets in plenty of light, making the XF Sportbrake feel more open and airy.
Super comfortable seats too.
I hate that only about 98 other people also own what is probably the best mix of sportiness, family transportation and luxury.
Sure enough, when I started looking into this, I discovered that few people bought these. According to Road & Track,less than250 XF Sportbrakes found a home between 2018 and 2020. Yes, these only rolled around for three model years. In the first year of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake it was only available in the highest S specification, but in 2019 it was available with a 2.0-litre turbo four, producing 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in this guise. According toSale dates, only 99 Jaguar XF S Sportbrakes were sold in 2018. It's unclear how many were sold after that, but some of those fewer than 250 units were turbo-fours.
That makes the Jaguar XF Sportbrake a rare find here in America. Unfortunately, this is yet another case of a wagon dying because there weren't enough enthusiasts to buy it. However, one of the reasons this could be the case is that in 2018 the starting price of the Jaguar ZF S Sportbrake was $71,445. Going back to the four-cylinder didn't save much money either, as that wagon would cost you at least $64,575. You also did not get a manual gearbox, but an eight-speed automatic.
A secret sleeper
How it drove? Kristen Lee, formerly of Jalopnik,belovedthe linear power delivery and sound that the bloated V6 brought to the table. She even went so far as to call it "the best kept sleeper car secret money can buy."judgement:
After leaving it in a parking lot and going to a restaurant, I looked at it again. It shone in the pale winter sun, its silver paintwork matching perfectly with the sea of other gray, black, white, and beige cars that surrounded it.
I'm not saying it's not a pretty car, because it is. It just lacks all the sharp angles and flared lines that the traditionally "aggressive" and "sporty" cars carry. It's heroically understated, to the point where even I struggled to figure it out right away when I got back, meaning a cop probably would too.
No one but you would know there's a crazy supercharged engine under the hood, crying for blood. You could get off the highway and quietly pull over, wait for a crowd of school kids to cross the street, and none of them would know that you've just spent the last 20 minutes chasing past lesser cars like they weren't even moving. There is a kind of self-indulgent thrill in harboring such a secret.
In addition to the power, the XF Sportbrakes could come with front collision warning, touchscreen infotainment, a suede headliner, a huge glass roof, two-tone leather, ambient lighting and more. The interior looks beautiful, although it should be noted that the shifter is of the dial variety. Reviews also suggest that the XF has an interior that is not quite up to the level of a Mercedes-Benz, despite such a price. But with such good looks, I think it deserves a pass.
The other good news is that these cars are for sale despite the rarity. I did a simple nationwide search on CarFaxand found at least fourXF S Sports brakes for sale. They were all priced in the low to mid $40,000 range. Indeed, as our David R points out, you might even find one still under warranty. That is a rarity for this series. Usually the cars depicted are so old that many banks wouldn't even give you a loan for them.
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is not just a fancy, sparkling car, but a dying breed. As crossovers and pickups continue their world domination, cars like these are dying out. One day we will look back on cars like this as an interesting point in car culture and car history.
Do you know or own a car worthy of being called a "Holy Grail"? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post it in the comments!
(Images: Jaguar, unless otherwise noted)
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Starting at $71,445. Highs Handsome design, excellent handling, plenty of cargo room. Lows Acceleration bested by many rivals, stiff ride, disappointing interior trim. Verdict The 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake offers a sporty driving experience in a wagon with loads of standard features and generous cargo room.Does Jaguar still make the XF Sportbrake? ›
Design and Practicality
Jaguar XF is available in two different body styles, which comprise a traditional saloon and a Sportbrake (Jaguar's name for an estate).
Making the most power is a supercharged 3.0L V6, which produces 380-horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.What is the most powerful Jaguar XF? ›
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The XF is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that comes in two potencies. The P250 version produces 246 horsepower, and the P300 generates 296 horses.