Mark Tisshaw
2 December 2012

What is it?

Something that can’t come a moment too soon for Jaguar in colder climates. All-wheel drive models account for almost 50 per cent of the US market for larger saloon cars (even higher, at around 80 per cent, in the Snow Belt states and in Canada), and it’s something Jaguar has always been without in its current line-up until now.

That ‘now’ is a new Jaguar-developed all-wheel drive system being offered on the Jaguar XJ and Jaguar XF saloons for the 2013 model year in Jaguar’s left-hand drive markets, but sadly not for the UK. The system is available exclusively with the firm’s new supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine.

To fit the new system, which uses sister firm Land Rover’s expertise rather than technology, into the XJ tested here required a thorough re-engineering of the luxury saloon’s underpinnings.

A new front sub frame has been fitted, along with a revised steering rack, a new exhaust system, new engine mounts, new front knuckles, new damper mounts, new front and rear differentials, a new prop shaft, new cross members, a new undertray, and acoustic heat shields to hide the noise from the transfer case.

On the dynamic front, all-wheel drive XJs get unique tuning for the suspension bushes and dampers, a unique steering set-up and a re-calibrated V6 engine, which is the only engine that can be equipped with the new all-wheel drive system as it was developed with the technology specifically in mind, the sump designed specifically to work with the driveshaft.

The all-wheel drive system features a transfer case control module mounted on the back of the revised eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a continuously variable system, which can split the torque 100/0 per cent front or rear, and any combination in between, depending on the situation.

What is it like?

A revelation. Ignoring just how well the system works and how much confidence it inspires, the sight of a big long-wheelbase XJ being able to even move at all in such treacherous conditions requires a double take.

So used to we of the sight of big rear-wheel drive Jaguars being as close to useless as it can get when we get a dumping of the white stuff, that it doesn’t even require getting out of first gear to understand that this is an XJ like no other.

Jaguar has engineered the system to retain the feel of a rear-wheel drive car in its performance. Drive it in Normal or Dynamic modes, and 95 per cent of the torque will be sent rearwards as default, so it’ll still slip and slide around when pushed, but the system will send torque forwards to get you out of trouble when the rear wheels spin. That said, the winter tyres fitted to our test car also helped.

The third driving mode is Winter, which when selected turns the XJ into a true all-weather machine. The feeling of a rear-drive car is retained with 70 per cent of the torque heading backwards, but it felt much more confidence-inspiring and sure-footed on the snow and ice-covered roads on our test route in Canada. In Winter mode, the car will always pull away in second, which all but eliminates any wheel spin.

Hill-starts, quick lane changes, fast B-roads: the all-wheel drive XJ can tackle them all in even the most treacherous of road conditions. Should you turn into a Finnish world rally champion on you snowy commute, the all-wheel drive XJ is also a real drift machine, and nimble enough to belie its size. And the engine is a smooth, refined and, when needed, a potent tool, particularly at low speeds, although economy is predictably harmed by the four-wheel drive system.

That all-weather performance does come with some downsides, which would expose themselves more in warmer months. The ride of the all-wheel XJ remains firm next to its rivals, although the trade-off is a level of engagement Germany’s finest limos can only dream of. There’s also a fair amount of tyre roar from the winter rubber, and listen closely with the radio off and you can hear the transfer case in action.

Should I buy one?

It’s definitely a shame you can’t in the UK. The Jaguar XJ 3.0 V6 AWD is a very competent all-weather dynamic tool, and proof that Jaguar’s first foray into all-wheel drive is a success.

Should you live in snowier parts of Europe, Russia, the US or Canada, then we’d wholeheartedly recommend the all-wheel drive XJ as a way of getting off your snow-covered drive in the winter months.

While the all-wheel drive XJ, and the XF that will follow it in three months’ time, might not be destined for the UK, Jaguar has committed to developing all its future models to be able to be equipped with all-wheel drive should the market demand it.

Should the big freezes of Britain in recent years continue, all-wheel drive Jaguars should be with us by the middle of the decade in the next-generation of models. So, altogether now: ‘Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’.

Jaguar XJ 3.0 V6 AWD

Price: TBC; 0-60mph: 6.1sec; Top speed: 155mph (limited); Power: 335bhp at 6500rpm; Torque: 332lb ft at 3500-5000rpm; Engine: V6, 2995cc, supercharged petrol; Installation: front, longitudinal, all-wheel drive; Economy: 19mpg (US cycle); CO2: 234g/km; Gearbox: 8spd auto.

Join the debate

Comments
19

Big mistake ?

1 year 19 weeks ago

I just can't help feeling as I look out of my window, that not selling this car in the UK (presumably because they can't make the effort to adapt a RHD model) is a huge mistake. The UK is Jaguar's home market, even if it is not it's biggest, but the decision not to sell the 4WD models just shows the regard in which they hold it and sends totally the wrong message to the rest of their markets.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

Big mistake

1 year 19 weeks ago

Living at the top of hill in sometimes snowy and icy Wales i can never consider a Jag which is a shame and always upgrade to a newer Audi A8 with 4 wheel drive , Jaguar are missing a huge market and the sooner they bring this vehicle here the better .not saying I would definately buy one but at least it would make my shopping list 

First Foray into All Wheel Drive?

1 year 19 weeks ago

Aren't you forgetting the X-Type?

Autocar: '...Jaguar’s first

1 year 19 weeks ago

Autocar: '...Jaguar’s first foray into all-wheel drive is a success....'

So did I just imagine the X-type? (OK shameless nit-picking)

Can't see why it's such a big deal that it isn't being marketed as part of the UK line up... Is the market REALLY that big?

(Oh, and as an aside, I have, to date, seen TWO of these new XJ's - and still think they look bloody awful) *Disclaimer: Not 'Jag Bashing, personal opinion*

Take no notice... I'm only here for the biscuits

ordinary bloke wrote: I just

1 year 19 weeks ago

ordinary bloke wrote:

I just can't help feeling as I look out of my window, that not selling this car in the UK (presumably because they can't make the effort to adapt a RHD model) is a huge mistake. The UK is Jaguar's home market, even if it is not it's biggest, but the decision not to sell the 4WD models just shows the regard in which they hold it and sends totally the wrong message to the rest of their markets.

Puzzled

It wont be due to not bothering to make the effortof adapting a RHD model nor the disregard they hold the UK that stops them.It'll either be the prohibitive cost of adapting RHD models (people seem to forget or notunderstand that everything is packed into an engine bay in an assymetric manner) or lack of demand in RHD markets for four wheel drive. Either way if they're not able toale money from they won't do it, which isentirely logical and sensible. 

Bob Cat Brian  said "It wont

1 year 19 weeks ago

Bob Cat Brian  said "It wont be due to not bothering to make the effort".

I fully appreciated when I wrote that this is not the only reason, obviously cost and potential sales have to be taken into account as well, but don't forget that the UK is not the only RHD market. I just think it just shows a bit of contempt for the original market that made Jaguar great in the first place.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

Petrol-only is the real issue

1 year 19 weeks ago

I think the reason it's not being marketed in the UK is that the vast majority of UK sales come from diesels, and with the petrol this would fall into the top tax band, making it prohibitively expensive for most people. And as the article states, it only works with the petrol engine, because of the system they've picked. They'll still sell loads in the US, though.

ordinary bloke wrote:the

1 year 19 weeks ago

ordinary bloke wrote:

the decision not to sell the 4WD models just shows the regard in which they hold it and sends totally the wrong message to the rest of their markets.

The likes of BMW have sold xDrive badged 4wd cars to the N. American market for some time because that's what the market wants, particularly if you live in snow country - it's easy to forget that there are a LOT of ski areas and resorts there.

I just don't see the demand for 4wd in the UK, in much the same way there isn't the demand for large petrol engins. Yes it's nice to have the choice but since only a handful of people order an XJ Supersport or a BMW 550i, is it really worth the manufacturer's while offering an even greater number of niche versions?

Having said that if the 3-series xDrive does well it might open the floodgates. Given our recent weather and recent winters that demand may just be stoked enough!

P.S. if benzpassionblog turns up to spoil the mood it's actually ex member horseandcart circumventing a ban. Just ignore the old soak.

Potential disappointment

1 year 19 weeks ago

I share the feeling of rejection of the 'home market'.  As a 2009 Freelander owner, who would definitely consider the new small Jaguar, when it eventually appears, I will feel let down if, unlike the X-Type, it is not available in 4WD.  After reading this news item (which would have benefitted from some proof reading) and the other on the proposed new small Jaguar, I suspect it will be front drive only. For me, that will be a big mark-down.

How is it tha a small

1 year 19 weeks ago

How is it tha a small Japanese manufacturer (Subaru) manages to make all its vehicles available with AWD, irespective of what colour pump it fills up with or whatever side the steering wheel is, but so called "Prestige" marques can not, and Subaru manage to make them bloody reliable...

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Our Verdict

The Jaguar XJ is a thoroughly modern luxury saloon, and a brilliantly capable one

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