The arrival of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake onto our fleet has been a little while coming because, despite initial conversations and agreement dating back more than 12 months, we decided to hang on for the new R-sport trim level added this year.

It’s, as the name suggests, a sportier trim designation that Jaguar hopes will replicate the success of BMW’s M-sport and Audi’s S-line offerings, and it brings numerous styling adornments to the already pretty XF, including new front bumper, side sills and unique rear spoiler, as well as stainless steel foot pedals and R-sport branded steering wheel and tread plates.

It also gets rather pretty Ursa 17-inch alloy wheels.

Despite the sporty looks, the powertrain is distinctly practical, with the 163hp 2.2-litre diesel emitting a very acceptable 129g/km and offering an official fuel economy of 57.7mpg, and Jaguar’s smooth eight-speed transmission is standard on the XF.

Early impressions from the trip computer were that we’ll end up somewhere between 40-50mpg, and it seems urban journeys really hammer the consumption while high-speed motorway trips are where the car is in its element. But after a couple of fills I’m downgrading that because the trip seems to be reading too positive, with the average mpg so far just below 40mpg, compared with the 46.0mpg on the display.

I’ve always been a fan of dark red colours, and the Carnelian Red metallic paint is a shade that’s surprisingly infrequently seen on XFs, which seem to gravitate to the more sober black and silver options. But I’m pleased with my choice, and think it works well with the big Jaguar.

Aside from colour, we basically let Jaguar take care of the specification because standard satnav, Bluetooth, electric tailgate, cruise control and dual-zone climate control tick pretty much all the boxes I’m after.

But the firm has added a few options including the Cold Climate Pack of heated windscreen, front seats and steering wheel that I may appreciate more when the weather turns south later in the year, and a front parking aid with reversing camera.

It gives us a chance to sample some of the XF’s other features, and we’ll report back later in the car’s term with us on whether they are worth the additional cash.

All the little details that make the XF seem special are still present with the Sportbrake, including the gear selector rising out of the centre console [3] and air vents that rotate when you switch on the ignition.

Mileage 993
Claimed combined consumption 57.7mpg
Our average consumption 39.5mpg
P11D price £36,440
Model price range £29,995-£82,495
CO2 (tax) 129g/km (21%)
BIK 20/40% per month £128/£255
Service interval 16,000mls
Insurance group group 40
Warranty 3yrs/unlimited miles
Boot space (min/max) 550/1675 litres
Engine size/power 2179cc/163hp
Top speed/0-62mph 124mph/10.0secs