JAGUAR has always defied the belief that big estate cars can't be handsome with exquisite styling and exciting driving dynamics.
But yet again Jaguar's design guru Ian Callum and his team have come up with exactly that with the second generation XF Sportbrake XF, better in every area than the 2012 model.
Proof too that whilst big, Sports Utility Vehicles may be all the rage at present there's still a strong demand for the large estate car that will deliver a sports performance with luxury furnishings.
Thenew XF Sportbrake delivers on every front and no matter what engine is chosen - there are five with four turbocharged diesels and one two-litre petrol - the lengthy backroom development work by the various Jaguar teams has paid off.
Here is an outstandingly designed and created posh estate car that will offer the driver an excellent balance between comfort and handling dynamics and with competitive pricing - ranging from £34,910 to £59,575.
There's no doubt that the new XF Spotbrake will prove even more stiffer opposition to German made rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
In terms of load-lugging this new version has improved over the first model now having 565 litres of space with the rear seats up (the XF saloonhas 540) and once the seats are folded the space rises to 1,700 litres.
Key point here too is that the interior luggage area now has flatter sides and minor changes to the rear seats allows the whole load area to completely flat when they are folded.
Elsewhere inside the estate is like the XF saloon with typical Jaguar quality styling, well placed and easy controls for the driver.
There is a choice of trim levels starting with the entry-level Pure, then Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport and the high performance R models and the line up offers five different engines.
Persuading up-market estate car owners that such load-luggers can provide saloon-like ride and comfort is again evident in this latest XF Sportbrake, which incidentally is 6mm shorter than its predecessor.
The optional adaptive suspension is well worth having and further enhances the self-levelling air sprung rear suspension that's fitted as standard across the range.
Today's estate cars need to be like saloons in providing a stiff and lightweight set-up that copes with those extra loads whilst at the same time providing, as in the Sportbrake's case, some sports car inspired driving character with agile handling and the kind of dynamic responses any Jaguar driver expects.
This was so evident when taking a drive in the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel which was extremely quiet and refined, even when pushed hard.
For an estate car it has excellently precise steering with great control and is really engaging for the driver with an eight-speed automatic gearbox giving swift and smooth changes.
One of the main plus points of this car is that it delivers an almost perfect 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution which in turn lays the foundations towards its exceptional handling.
This V6 296bhp powertrain is a real sweety and it will accelerate from 0 to 60mph in around six seconds and needs only a feather touch of the accelerator to gain instant response.
The XF Sportbrake showed itself to have impressive mid-range acceleration too with the auto gear change doing its job really efficiently - it will surely finally win over any driver who still wants to stick to manual gearboxes.
There are both four and six cylinder diesel engines on offer but my preference would be the V6 because it's that good.
Officially it's rated at 49.6mpg with emissions of 149g/km and for business users it attracts a 31 per cent tax levy.
Jaguar bosses confirm that diesel power will be the main choice and it's easy to understand why as technically they are so superior.
The new Sportbrake, with its stylish roofline, is all-aluminium and comes with a full-length panoramic roof measuring 1.6 square metres and lets in loads of natural light.
Quite often in large estate cars rear seat passengers can become claustrophobic but the panoramic roof makes for a great airy and roomy interior.
In terms of aerodynamics the XF Sportbrake also scores well with a slippery drag coefficient of 0.29 which betters most of its main rivals.
As with any Jaguar of today there are loads of driver assistance and safety features including a Driver Condition Monitor which has a range of automatic inputs that detect any signs of drowsiness and will tell the driver to take a break.
Elsewhere the Sportbrake incorporatesthe same connectivity systems including the excellent InControl touchscreen infotainment software.
The XF Sportbrake has to be the most stylish big estate out there and it's also probably the most rewarding to drive.