Jaguar XJ AWD - First drive

This isn’t an ordinary XJ, but a brand-new all-wheel drive version and it’s the reason that the suits at Jaguar’s head office are hoping for many cold winters to come

 

Price: TBC (not on sale in UK)
Engine capacity: 3-litre supercharged petrol
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 335 @ 6,500
Top speed (mph): 155
0-62 mph (seconds): 6.1
Fuel economy (mpg): 19
CO2 emissions (g/km): 234

Shifting a Jaguar XJ down a frozen track at 60mph in the back of beyond of sub-zero eastern Canada was always going to end badly. And sure enough after one four-wheel drift too many on a deserted track, the front tyre warning light clicked on and blinked menacingly at me.

I’d hit a snow-covered rock at the edge of the obscured gravel road and a four-inch gash in the tyre meant a nervous stop and a tyre change in -15C temperatures. Hardly ideal but this isn’t as mad as it sounds, because while I may been sitting (on a heated seat) in a luxury saloon fit for CEO, it wasn’t totally bonkers of me to take it into the back country during the middle of a North American winter. That’s because this isn’t an ordinary XJ, but a brand-new all-wheel drive version and it’s the reason that the suits at Jaguar’s head office are hoping for many cold winters to come.

The standard logic is that it’s the firm’s stable mate Land Rover that benefits from cold weather (visits to its website treble), but with the new XJ (and soon the XF) Jaguar is hoping to boost its share of the lucrative luxury-saloon market in America, Canada, Northern Europe and Russia.

Let me explain; until now you’d have been bonkers to try and live with a rear-wheel drive sports saloon when the ground is covered in snow and ice for much of the year. That’s why 80 per cent of the US Snowbelt opts for all-wheel drive in its luxury saloon choice and luxury German manufactures all offer it – that’s an awful lot of customers Jaguar has been missing out on.

Front tyre replaced (blame the driver not the car) my test continued with some hill starts, high-speed turns, a slalom and some drifting at a special test facility at Mecaglisse, north of Montreal. This is all great fun, and going sideways in an XJ is something to behold but it’s the spirited run home on the highway that is really enlightening. Jaguar has installed a system that, unlike its rivals, can switch up to 100 per cent of the engine’s torque (it’s pulling power and how a car gains traction) to the front or rear wheels depending on conditions.

In normal conditions only 5 per cent is directed to the front to retain the XJ’s handling characteristics (it remains one the best luxury saloons to drive rather than be driven in), while in winter or dynamic mode more power is transferred to the front to cope with more challenging conditions. This isn’t exactly new – Audi, BMW and Mercedes have been at it for years – but it is very intuitive, keeps the XJ firmly planted and means you can progress rapidly but safely across the most treacherous of road with peace of ease.

From the outside nothing has changed and the XJ is still a resplendent thing to look. If you live in the Rockies or the Alps - and are in them market for a £100k luxury saloon - the XJ is now a solid rival to the Germanic offerings from BMW, Audi and Mercedes. In Surbiton or Solihull it’s less useful, and that, sadly for British drivers, is why Jaguar won’t be offering it for sale in the UK.

Why should a British driver be interested then? Aside from the boost to the UK’s export tally that is. The answer is that the AWD technology will be available for all future Jaguar saloons in years to come and could (speculation is rife outside the company) be part of a possible Jaguar SUV at some stage in the future. In the meantime all that we can do is pray for very, very icy winters and hope the financial controllers at Jaguar decide that the British market isn’t so cold after all.

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    English Teacher

    £100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are curren...

    Web Developer (Infrastructure, JavaScript, jQuery, jQuery UI)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Web Developer (Infrastructure, JavaScript, jQuer...

    DT Technician

    £65 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: DT Technician required to start...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

    Day In a Page

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor