Jaguar XJ AWD

5 Dec, 2012 11:15am Steve Fowler

We travelled to snowy Canada to put the all-new four-wheel-drive Jaguar XJ through its paces

Verdict

4
Advanced four-wheel drive provides added security, but still plenty of driver appeal. The new 3.0-litre supercharged petrol V6 is a gem, too, giving this big luxury car real character. A stunning, beautifully crafted interior adds to the appeal, although getting in the back is still not especially graceful. And it’s a shame we’re not getting it in right-hand drive.

Not since the X-Type has Jaguar had a four-wheel-drive model to boast about, but this new XJ (and it’s mechanically very similar XF smaller brother) is an essential part of the company’s big expansion plans and the battle against four-wheel-drive BMW and Audi rivals.

North American markets in particular will be rich pickings for this new model, so we headed to the sub-zero temperatures of Canada to try the XJ on some seriously slippery stuff.

Unlike the BMW xDrive saloons and Audi quattro models, the Jaguar four-wheel-drive system allows 100 per cent of the power to go to the front or rear wheels, depending where the grip is needed most. In normal driving, only around 5 per cent of the drive will go to the front wheels, making the XJ AWD feel much like (and as much fun as) any other model.

In winter mode, that split’s changed to 30 per cent front and 70 per cent rear, but with sensors able to detect slip and channel power wherever it’s needed in 100milliseconds, those power splits are constantly variable. That all means incredibly surefooted handling, allowing the big Jag to go places you wouldn’t normally expect it to reach. Yet all the while, it still feels like a Jag.

As well as the suspension changes made to all 2013 model year XJs to soften off the ride, front suspension and steering tweaks make this car handle better than most other luxury cars, but with an added dose of comfort. You won’t notice the extra 75kg of 4x4 transmission, or hear it thanks to acoustic heat shields in the transmission tunnel.

Under the bonnet is Jaguar’s new super-smooth 335bhp 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine. With an eight-speed gearbox, changes are slick and performance on any surface is pretty mighty.

The XJ isn’t without its downsides, though. Beautiful though the cabin is, getting into the back means quite a drop down – not ideal in a luxury car – and it’s dark in there, although space is good.

But the biggest issue is that we’re not getting any four-wheel-drive Jags in the UK, at least not in their current iterations. According to Jaguar, the market in the UK is too small for big four-wheel-drive luxury cars. Fair enough, but we’re missing out on another talented new Jag.

Disqus - noscript

Market in the UK too small for big luxury cars??

Try telling Audi the UK market is too small for A6 and A8 quattro's. I could mention X5's and Q7's, but that would not be fair...

Pure marketing spin by a brand fast running out of money because it is not selling, because it doesn't have product that people want, because it isn't run by car people...

No, I think they're referring to the "luxury AWD" market...i.e. Merc S Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series...you don't see all many of those around.

Would be perfect for the hills around Buxton. Don't be mean Jaguar and release it in UK or Audi will gain another customer.

How are they running out of money? They are making record profits??? Jaguar is one of the few brands founded by a car enthusiast. Please do your research before commenting.

Key specs

  • Price: £68,000 (est)
  • Engine: 3.0-litre V6 S/C
  • Power: 335bhp
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-60mph: 6.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy: 28.8mpg
  • CO2: 229g/km
  • Equipment: Leather upholstery, Meridian stereo, Bluetooth, cruise control
  • On sale: Not in the UK
AEX 1,339
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