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.

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
VIDEO
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
football
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
film
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Geography Teacher

    £130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

    Do you want to work in Education?

    £55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

    Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit