Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Sport
(and a half)
Chanced upon a marathon eBay session last week, following the random purchase of a vintage Battleship game from a charity shop near my mum’s. A fiver and in mint condition! Well, that was it. We spent the rest of Sunday trawling the web for all the iconic games we always wanted as kids but could never afford.
Difficult to imagine more fun. So many memories revisited in the name of endless future hours of joyous family interaction for not really very much money at all. And all design classics, from the box to the contents within. We are now the proud owners of KerPlunk, Battling Tops, Raving Bonkers, Operation, Mouse Trap, Rebound and Crossfire. All original, all in excellent working order.
The XF Sportbrake is without doubt an extremely cool cat to look at. Everyone who laid eyes on it loved this car. The designers have nailed it
I can’t tell you how much the kids love them. They haven’t looked at an iPad (or The Simpsons) since. God bless these vintage games, which are themselves game-changers, sent from the past to help us save ourselves from an increasingly mindless future.
A bit like the big milk bottle news. This week it was announced that sales of milk in gorgeous glass bottles have increased 25 per cent year on year. How fantastic is that? More power to our army of diehard milkies, those heroic early birds who have stuck it out, fighting an out-of-control consumer society hell-bent on instant gratification and not much else. But they never gave up hope, waiting for the tide to turn and now it has. Two pints of gold top for the Evans family please, Mr Milkman – and one for yourself while you’re at it. Apparently, electric milk floats are about to make a comeback too. Another design classic. The Teslas of their day. Over to you, Mr Musk, a whole new market awaits.
My own current retro fantasy is an Eighties Jeep Wagoneer, after becoming obsessed with them in Los Angeles last summer. What an outstanding car. Beautiful, practical, powerful, comfortable and charming. Google it and you’ll see.
But I’ve promised not to buy anything with wheels till at least late 2019. My last purchase for a while, therefore, being my very own Skoda Wagoneer, the Superb Sportline, this column’s No 1 car of last year, which bizarrely doesn’t get a mention in the ‘market rivals’ to this week’s test car, the new Jag XF Sportbrake R-Sport. I wonder why not? Admittedly, the Jag is better-looking and has a cooler badge on the bonnet. But seriously, that’s about it. Pretty much everything else considered, the Skoda either holds its own or wins hands down. So what we’re going to have to do in the name of patriotism is pretend that the Sportline doesn’t exist. Deal? Here we go then.
A rugged and handsome mix of English country gent and Côte d’Azur playboy. The best of British, fully loaded, ready to take on anything Europe’s fashionistas care to throw at it
The XF Sportbrake is without doubt an extremely cool cat to look at, from the latest incarnation of what has now become the signature renaissance grille and portentous bonnet bulge to the fat back and raked rear roof line. Everyone who laid eyes on it loved this car. The designers have nailed it.
As they have the interior, where one is greeted by a veritable delight of sporty goings-on. A rugged and handsome mix of English country gent and Côte d’Azur playboy. The best of British, fully loaded, ready to take on anything Europe’s fashionistas care to throw at it. Starting with the two-tone leather trim throughout, stitched to a standard that would make Savile Row’s finest swell with pride, enhanced further by a beautifully fashioned wraparound dash. The illusion of forward momentum without a wheel being turned.
That’s the good news. Spend a little longer in the cockpit, however, and one could be forgiven for concluding that, notwithstanding the above, someone accidentally pressed the ideas ‘pause’ button thereafter. The standard Jag/Land Rover tech is starting to look dated, the graphics now seem too small, as if someone has chosen the wrong font, and the switchgear feels bitty, randomly proportioned, cheap and fiddly.
The standard Jag/Land Rover tech is starting to look dated, the graphics now seem too small, as if someone has chosen the wrong font
When it comes to describing what this car is like to drive, I almost want to stop typing. Not that there is anything particularly disastrous to report. It actually handles extremely well, but it needs to do everything really well, and unfortunately that’s not the case. From a driving point of view, in all other respects it is average at best. This is a modern Jag shooting brake, for heaven’s sake, in R-Sport trim. It needs to get the juices flowing. Out on the open road, the difference between the driving modes doesn’t actually register as being that different. Sport, for example, simply feels as if the car is still in Drive but is just being whipped a bit more aggressively. In Eco and Snow modes, again, it feels as if it’s in Drive, but this time being driven by your granny wearing silk slippers. As for the engine and exhaust note, they are mildly exciting, but why not sample a few notes from the F-Type’s soundtrack and stick them into the mix?
Engine 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Gearbox 8-speed auto
0-60mph 6.7 seconds
Fuel economy 41.5mpg
First year road tax £500
Sure, the car looks the business and has plenty of room for baggage, both human and whatever else. But – and it’s a big but – this is a premium Jaguar sports grand tourer that can only muster 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds yet costs close to £60k.
Nah. I’m sorry, that just doesn’t wash. I love Jaguar Land Rover, but I never want to see them going back to the bad old days of relying on their badge and back story as opposed to simply being brilliant in the here and now.
The good news is that I hear the E-Pace and I-Pace are pretty much as good as it gets. The bad news is that the Skoda Sportline, which costs £38k more or less fully loaded, notches up 0-60 in 5.8 seconds…
PS. My eldest boy, Noah, says I have to mention the panoramic sunroof, which can be operated by gesture control. Apparently that makes up for everything. ‘It’s awesome!’