They say that if you wait long enough, everything comes back into fashion.
I’m holding onto my double-breasted pin-stripe suit, flared jeans and Afghan coat from the Seventies for just that reason, but I suspect the moths may take their toll before I dig them out of the wardrobe again.
It’s something similar with cars. I doubt if yellow swinging-arm trafficators or foot-operated main beam dip switches will ever return but I’m delighted to see that one term from the past is enjoying a revival.
This big beast could be seen as one of the last of a diminishing breed
Just recently I’ve seen a handful of manufacturers referring to their estate models as shooting brakes, presumably to distinguish them from the rest of the pack and give them a whiff of exclusivity.
Jaguar is a case in point with the latest version of their big-booted XF Sportbrake. As the Indian-owned, Midlands-based manufacturer follows the rest of the industry down the road of electrification for most of its range, this big beast could be seen as one of the last of a diminishing breed, swallowing jungle juice without any assistance from battery power.
A facelift and a final fling
I’ve always had a soft spot for the XF as an old-style large executive saloon and about the only thing we have as a rival to the Germans with their BMWs, Audis and Mercs, but never quite equalling them in customer appeal.
In what might be seen as its twilight years, it’s been given a facelift in its final fling before Jaguar commits entirely to its electric future.
The model range has been trimmed and the technology improved with some of the latest toys to appeal to existing customers and others who might otherwise consider the BMW 5 Series Touring, Mercedes E Class Estate or the Swedish Volvo V90, which would be my personal choice.
Gutsy engine still packs a punch
There are just a few tweaks on the outside with dramatic signature LED double-J daytime running lights and a forceful new front end.
The test car looked particularly stunning with its £700 option Bluefire blue metallic paintjob, finished off with 19-inch gloss black alloys – another £800 – and the black exterior pack and privacy glass which together added another £1000 to the bill.
Under the bonnet of the P250 model test car was a 247bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels.
Long gone is the old gutsy V6 which fell foul of emission standards but this new engine is a lively cracker with plenty of punch.
In Sportbrake style, it’s a big car but when pushed, the power unit can propel it from a standing start to 60mph in under seven seconds, although that kind of performance means the consumption figures take a hit and you’ll find it difficult to achieve the claimed 33 mpg.
The eight-speed auto box likes to work hard but I had to use the steering wheel paddles to get the most from it and achieve quicker changes.
Responsive on the open road
Despite its size, it’s a responsive car on the open road, whether that’s cruising down a dual carriageway or winding through country byways, with very little body roll and easily absorbing bumps and ruts along the way.
The most notable changes are on the inside and the designers have put a lot of effort into making this an interior worthy of the term executive.
The driver’s view of the curved dash and 11.4 inch touchscreen is excellent and the Pivi Pro infotainment system is a big improvement on what went before, although a new owner would take a little while to get to grips with the complexity of the menu.
I fear that this kind of big powerful luxury machine, like the old shooting brake, may soon be a thing of the past
The test car was the R-Dynamic SE specification so came with sophisticated climate control, heated electrically adjustable front seats, 3D surround camera, powered tailgate, cruise control, trailer stability assist and a huge list of safety features.
Its biggest asset is the boot space, which although not quite as big as some rivals, can certainly fit in all the stuff for a weekend away in the country.
I liked it a lot but I fear that this kind of big powerful luxury machine, which is heavy on the juice and emissions may soon be, like the old shooting brake, a thing of the past.
Model: Jaguar XF Sportbrake P250 R-Dynamic SE RWD
Price: £40,125 (£45,000 as tested)
0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 150 mph
Economy: 33 mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 188 g/km