LA PLAGNE, France — British athletes have a reputation as plucky amateurs, although impressive Olympic performances of late have chipped away at it. Alpine sports remain one area where the more traditional "have a go" hero attitude prevails. Realistically, the only way a British skier is going to break records is with a little help from a fast-moving Jaguar. Thus, British ski stalwart Graham Bell set a speed record of 117 mph, towed behind a XF Sportbrake in an effort to demonstrate the effectiveness of its "Adaptive Surface Response" AWD drivetrain on all surfaces, including ice and snow. To what end? In short, a welcome reminder that an AWD Jaguar station wagon is a classy way to offer snowbelt drivers a practical, all-weather performance car with a twist: It isn't an SUV. The drive up to the ski resort of La Plagne is a chance for the XF Sportbrake to expose the myth you need a high-riding vehicle for life in the mountains. On the freeway from the airport, the Sportbrake amply demonstrates that it is a lovely thing to be in. Sleek, low-slung and effortlessly sexy in that traditional Jaguar fashion, the XF arguably looks better as a wagon than it does a sedan. For 2019, the Sportbrake range has expanded, with the 296 horsepower 30t Ingenium gasoline motor joining the existing 380 horsepower V6 S and providing the option to downsize without sacrificing too much performance. It's a tad gruff, but still packs 295 pound feet of torque to the V6's 332 pound feet while 0-60 in 5.7 seconds is only four-tenths slower. It's perhaps not decisive, but the official highway mileage improves from 25 mpg to 28 mpg. Its starting price of $64,575 saves a fair chunk of cash compared to a $71,215 V6 S, but the Sportbrake is still $10,000 more than an F-Pace with the same engine and equivalent Prestige spec. The 2019 updates also include a standard 10-inch touchscreen-controlled InControl Touch Pro system in the center console and, on our test car, the $945 Technology Package with the configurable 12.3-inch TFT instrument binnacle. For the Sportbrake, the 30t model is available exclusively in Prestige trim, meaning Navigation Pro, associated Pro Services and 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot are standard; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available via the $300 Smartphone Pack. Compared with the haptic displays offered in recent Land Rover products and the widescreen options in rivals like the equivalently priced Mercedes E450 4Matic wagon, the XF's tech integration still looks somewhat old-school. But its dynamics are anything but. If nothing else, the Sportbrake exposes the compromises required to make SUVs and crossovers handle in a sporting fashion. Because it sits low to the ground, there's no need for rock-hard suspension to restrain the body through turns or over rough surfaces. And because it weighs less — at least 130 pounds less than an equivalent F-Pace — the suspension can be tuned for fluency and comfort as well as composure. The road up to our …
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|MPG||31 City / 42 Hwy|
|Power||180 @ 4000 rpm|
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