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.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Life & Style blogs
Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
A cup of tea is every worker's right
Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
Fake goats’ cheese found in supermarkets
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large organisa...
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: English Teacher Required for Oct...
£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you qualified Mandarin Teache...
£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...