Jaguar XJ 3.0-litre supercharged (2013) - First Drive

The car that provides the first look at the engine that will drive the F-type

Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged petrol V6
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Power: 340 PS at 6,500rpm
Torque: 450 Nm
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 30.0 mpg
CO2 emissions: 224g/km
Top speed: 155mph (artificially limited)
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 5.7 seconds
Price: from £65,365 (long wheelbase models from £68,515)

Jaguar’s F-Type promises to be one of the hottest new cars of 2013. Its name, of course, invites direct comparisons with the greatest Jaguar of all, the E-Type, but nobody really knows yet whether it will be able to live up to such demanding billing. Now, though, we have the first – very encouraging – clue, because the F-Type’s base engine option, a three-litre supercharged petrol V6, has just turned up in the 2013 model year Jaguar XJ saloon, where it does a terrific job.

In the XJ, the new engine produces 340 horsepower, and replaces the 380 horsepower normally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 petrol option. On paper, a drop of two litres in engine capacity and 40 horsepower doesn’t sound like a recipe for excitement or improvement, but on the road, the V6 is deeply convincing; strong, smooth and quiet, with a pleasing muted gravelly undertone when working hard. And the arrival of the smaller engine also coincides with the welcome adoption across the XJ range of ZF’s eight-speed automatic gearbox in place of the previous six-speeder; in top, the V6 supercharged XJ probably has just about the longest gearing seen on any road car, with the engine turning at only about 1,500 rpm at the 70mph motorway limit. Good as the supercharged V6 is, though, we probably won’t see it in large numbers in the UK, where Jaguar’s diesel engines do a lot better under our C02 emissions-based company car taxation regime, This engine is really about offering improved economy in markets such as the USA and China where petrol engines dominate.

For the rest, the 2013 Jaguar XJ is pretty much the same as before – that means the same great looks, the same terrific interior and the same choice between short and long wheelbase versions. One British audio brand – Meridian - replaces another – B&W - for the sound system, and DAB radio is now standard across the range, but the rest of the changes are modest, at least as far as the UK market is concerned. Spring and damper rates have been tweaked in order to improve the ride – although that was already an XJ strong point.

Customers in some other countries, though, will see a couple of altogether more exotic new XJ variants in 2013; there’s a small supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, a first for this class of car, and an all-wheel drive option, designed to help Jaguar compete more effectively against similarly equipped Audis, BMWs and Mercedes in Canada, the US snow-belt states, and Russia. Jaguar has offered a 4x4 layout before, of course, in the now-discontinued X-Type; that car used as its base a front-wheel drive Ford platform and struggled to be accepted as a proper Jag, a fate that is unlikely to befall the all-wheel drive version of the XJ.

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