There’s no shortage of fine tow cars in our fourth weight division, but the Jaguar XF Sportbrake topped the score sheets of all five test drivers. It’s an outstanding tow car.
Stability at speed is as good as it gets. Pushing the Jag well beyond the legal limit felt like a gentle afternoon drive, and we had to keep checking our mirrors to make sure we hadn’t driven on to the track without a caravan by mistake.
In the lane-change test there was a small slide from the car on the fastest run, but car and caravan quickly pulled straight again.
The 3.0-litre diesel engine has power to spare, with a 30-60mph time of just 8.7 seconds. It’s this combination of unshakeable stability and effortless performance that makes the XF Sportbrake such a relaxing car to tow with.
Starting on a 1-in-6 slope was easy. The electronic parking brake held car and caravan still, then released smoothly; the low pull of the 3.0-litre engine did the rest.
The Jaguar also excels in everyday driving. At motorway speeds it’s quiet and comfortable, but turn on to a twisting road and precise steering and expertly judged suspension really come into their own. It’s hugely enjoyable to drive.
It’s not perfect, however. The stout transmission tunnel means two will be more comfortable in the back than three, and the boot is shallow compared with that of some rivals. We found space for all but one of the bags from our typical load of holiday luggage.
Even so, the fitment of a Trailer Stability Programme, self-levelling suspension and a reversing camera all boosted the Jaguar’s practicality score.
The price tag is the wrong side of £50,000, but What Car?’s Target Price team has found that big discounts are available. If you’re going to spend that kind of money, it’s reassuring to note that the XF finished third out of 116 models in the 2013 JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey.