2012 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

If you're of the opinion that the world needs fewer bloated crossovers and SUVs and more station wagons, first of all, you're in good company. Wagons can offer all the cargo capacity and most of the versatility of their taller siblings, only without the wobbly handling and excess weight. Secondly, today's your day, because Jaguar has unleashed its new XF Sportbrake.

Based, as you might have guessed, on the XF sedan, the Sportbrake offers the longer roofing and extra space embraced by European buyers over their saloon counterparts. In fact, the XF Sportbrake offers 550 liters (19 cubic feet) of cargo space with the rear seats in place, or 1,675 liters (59 cu. ft.) with the rear seats folded flat. That's roughly comparable to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (20.5/57.4 cu. ft. with seats up/down) and Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon (25/58), or in crossover terms, about what you get in an Audi Q5 (29.1/57.3) and a bit less than the back of a Porsche Cayenne (23.7/62.9).

Jaguar in turn says structural integrity is just as stiff as the sedan's, and rear seat headroom has incidentally increased by 48 mm (1.9 inches). All that, and the Sportbrake weighs just 70 kg (154 pounds) more than its four-door counterpart, offset by a self-leveling air suspension. Couple that with a torquey diesel – with either 2.2 liters of capacity in four cylinders or 3.0 liters in six – and an eight-speed automatic transmission and you're looking at an intriguing alternative for towing the motor launch down to the yacht club.

What Jaguar isn't saying, however, is what (if any) of its gasoline engines will be offered in the Sportbrake – most pertinently the V8 and supercharged mills – or for that matter if there are any plans to bring the stately estate to the U.S. market, but we wouldn't hold our breath (that whole X-Type wagon thing didn't work out too well last time). What you can do, however, is scope out the high-res images in the gallery and the press release after the jump until next week when the long-back cat debuts under the floodlights of the Geneva Motor Show.
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THE NEW JAGUAR XF SPORTBRAKE

- First images of the new XF Sportbrake unveiled ahead of the Geneva Motor Show
- New variant based on the XF platform – maximum load volume of 1,675-litres
- Small increase in weight and footprint and a chassis structure that equals the rigidity of the saloon means the handling characteristics of the conventional XF are retained
- UK sales to commence later this year

The new Jaguar XF Sportbrake has been unveiled ahead of its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show and promises to be the most versatile Jaguar ever created.

Sharing its underpinnings with the XF saloon, the Sportbrake's overall length grows by just 5mm, its weight by less 70kg and its chassis structure matches the strength of the conventional XF. These characteristics mean the Sportbrake can closely match the acclaimed handling of the XF saloon yet offers a large and highly practical load space.

Every panel on the XF Sportbrake, from the B-Pillar rearwards, is new. The strong silver signature line running the length of the car is extended while the C-Pillar is finished in gloss black, a trait shared with the XJ saloon. Slim rear light units extend into a strong chrome crossmember that dominates the rear of the car. The result is a car that blends style and function with the rear seat occupants benefitting from 48mm of extra rear headroom.

The large, practical tailgate can be specified with power struts, opening to reveal a wide and highly versatile load space. Measuring 550-litres with the rear seats up, the boot is framed by a set of useful cubby compartments. With the seats folded, the total volume grows to 1,675-litres.

Practical touches are prevalent – and standard equipment – on the XF Sportbrake. Remote fold levers are mounted within the boot area to lower the rear seats – negating the need to stretch into the boot. Powerful LEDs throw a pool of light onto the ground when the boot is open while the tailgate itself features a soft close function, avoiding any requirement for it to be slammed. Set into the boot floor is a panel that splits into three sections to allow smaller loads to be neatly wedged and avoiding a precious or fragile cargo being thrown about. A tray mounted under the boot floor helps protect valuable items.

Beneath the car there are extensive changes to the rear suspension. Self-levelling air suspension aids driving dynamics and means the Sportbrake can serve as an accomplished tow vehicle.

Powering the XF Sportbrake will be a range of efficient yet powerful diesel engines in 2.2-litre four cylinder and 3.0-litre six-cylinder form, each directing drive through the rear wheels via an advanced eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Prices and specifications will be announced nearer the time of the launch of the Sportbrake, set to take place in the third quarter of 2012.