Picnicking in the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S

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jaguarforums.com 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake is more than just a Pinterest-worthy photo backdrop.

It’s a great time to be an automotive enthusiast. The Big Three horsepower wars rage on, with tires and bragging rights being the only real casualties. Once-forbidden high-performance models, such as the Honda Civic Type R, have finally made their ways into U.S. dealerships. Although crossovers and SUVs are grabbing a great deal of customer cash and headlines these days, many of them are going the way of sports cars by focusing on physics-defying handling and face-flattening horsepower.

According to a Bloomberg article from March 2017, “The number of station wagons available to U.S. buyers dropped from 17 to just seven over the past five years.” Acura no longer makes a car with a long roof. Cadillac chose not to make a second-generation model of the five-door CTS. However, the wagons that do remain make the term “station wagon” not only synonymous with greater interior space, but also with beautiful design. Porsche’s Panamera Sport Turismo looks as if it hauls equal amounts of ass and cargo. Mercedes offers the more everyday E400 4MATIC Wagon and the trackday E63 S Wagon.

Jaguar (re-)joins the fray

Jaguar’s history with the sedan’s more spacious counterpart only goes as far back as the mid-2000s. In hopes of boosting annual sales, Jaguar decided to offer a Sportwagon version of its entry-level X-Type. By the end of the decade, both that and the X-Type itself were no more. The automaker created an XF Sportbrake during the mid-sizer’s first generation, but that never made it to the states. In June of 2017, Jaguar announced a new Sportbrake, based on the X260 model XF, would be sold in the U.S. starting in the winter and available in only two trim lines: S and First Edition.

Jaguar was kind enough to lend me a $84,815 Sportbrake S loaded with black 20-inch wheels and the Black Exterior, Technology, Driver Assistance, Comfort & Convenience, and Premium Interior Upgrade Packages. When I got the keys to it, I didn’t ask, “Why are they selling this car here in America?” or “Why now?” Its Britishness and body style made me picture it parked under a shade tree with a light lunch spread out on a nearby blanket. I wondered to myself, Can the XF Sportbrake picnic?

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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