Jaguar launches its first large station wagon

  • 14-Mar-2012 04:28 EDT
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The new XF Sportbrake is based on the XF saloon platform.

Newspress

Jaguar has never before produced a station wagon variant of a large model, with the only previous station wagon in the company’s history being the X-Type. That gap was filled with the unveiling of the XF Sportbrake at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, based on the revised 2012 model year variant of the XF saloon.

Jaguar Design’s Production Studio Director Wayne Burgess explained to AEI that Jaguar did not set out to retain the XF’s coupe roofline for the Sportbrake. “The whole raison d’etre for this vehicle was to provide a load-carrying space that was fully competitive with the competition. So when we devised the brief for this car we worked from the inside out. From Day One, we benchmarked the key German competitors.

“We felt that the Audi A6 Avant was the car that we wanted to be closest to because that car has a good compromise of great exterior aesthetics with good usable space. So we benchmarked the key dimensions from those vehicles and made sure that we matched or bettered all of those. So in terms of length of load space, a fold-flat floor, the dimension when you open the tailgate, width across the wheel arches, they had to be equal to the competition or better.”

In terms of dimensions, the result is a continuous load surface 1970 mm (77.6 in) long with the rear seats folded down, which Burgess believes is the equal of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class station wagon. Between the wheel arches, the space is 1064 mm (41.9 in) wide.

“It was about getting a very practical rear useable luggage space and then thinking, ‘How can we treat this in a Jaguar way?' continued Burgess. “For the interior, it’s about the use of premium materials in the first instance, so the [cargo area] carpet is the same grade as the interior. The seats fold flat, we have remote releases on both sides of the trunk compartment, so that you don’t have to go round to the side doors to fold the seats down. There are stainless steel polished tread plates, LED illumination in the side walls as well as in the deck lid.”

The load floor has a lift-up cover with a divided molding to stop items such as groceries from rolling around, and there is a stowage net in the side moldings. The underfloor tray varies in depth, depending on whether a spare wheel is carried or a tire repair kit. Aluminum securing rails are set in the floor, allowing specialist equipment such as mountain bike racks to be fitted.

The platform is identical to the XF saloon with the same wheelbase and rear overhang. “Up to the waistline is common with the saloon, but the door upper is unique,” explained Burgess. “There’s a unique roof panel, rear fenders, unique rear lamps, obviously the tailgate, and a unique rear bumper. One of the benefits of the estate car profile is that we get an extra 48 mm of headroom over the rear occupants.

“Some of the cars that I was inspired by when I was younger were things like the Reliant Scimitar GTE, the Lancia Beta HPE, and Jensen Interceptors—they all had this sports wagon profile, and this very three-dimensional visor-like rear screen gives the car that slightly exotic nature.”

The car has the same drag coefficient as the saloon. Jaguar achieved that by honing the underbody design and paying attention to the vehicle corners and where the air detaches from the body. For instance, a feature line in the rear lamps that separates the lamps from the body surface helps to reduce the drag factor, as the air remains attached to the body for longer.

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