Steve Cropley
25 December 2012

What is it?

We’re talking here about the most economical full-size saloon Jaguar has ever built, the luxurious XJ-e hybrid, which I recently sampled on public roads as part of Jaguar’s three-car, six-driver entry in the 2012 Future Car Challenge, a 63-mile all-roads economy test between Brighton and London.

Our experimental Jag trio, part-financed by the government’s busy and productive Technology Strategy Board, proved their potential by topping their class in the Brighton to London test, winning the award for 'Most energy-efficient luxury car — prototype' and a taking a new award for 2012, the 'Technical panel’s award of merit'.

The XJ-e, officially rated at 87mpg and with a CO2 output of just 75 g/km, is an advanced prototype Jaguar is developing in case the world’s luxury car buyers discover a taste for extreme economy. So far they haven’t; companies such as Porsche have had limited showroom success with their Cayenne and Panamera hybrids. Seems those who can afford big-price cars can stump up big fuelling costs, too.

However, nearly every parameter in motoring has changed over the past decade, so no-one should bet against governments abruptly erecting future tax barriers for conventional models that will make big hybrids either much more financially attractive, or perhaps the only cars permitted in certain inner-city areas.

What is it like?

To the casual onlooker, the XJ-e is impressive but not greatly different to the eye than the normal XJ. The big differences are under the skin. There’s a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Range Rover Evoque petrol engine in the car’s nose, driving a hybridised automatic transmission (the classic eight-speed ZF automatic with an electric motor where the torque converter would normally be).

The motor is sandwiched between a pair of clutches so the car can be driven petrol only, electric only or with both engines in action. In the boot there’s a 12.3kWh lithium ion battery pack plus a smaller stash of Jaguar’s 'own-brand' power electronics. The battery can be fully charged from household mains in four hours and is capable of driving the car on electricity only for around 25 miles, thereafter garnering and occasionally utilising charge generated as the petrol engine drives the car or through regenerative braking.

My job was to ride shotgun in one of the XJ-e prototypes beside Peter Richings, director of Jaguar Land Rover’s growing hybrids and electrification group. This was easy: for the passenger, the XJ did its usual XJ 'magic carpet' impressions; for the driver (after some minor starting rigmarole) it was a matter of deploying the smooth and almost silent propulsion energy as efficiently as possible on economy-run principles, washing away as little forward speed as possible with friction braking (more gentle regenerative braking was allowable) and using downward gradients to gather speed and slingshot the car up the next hill. Power was extremely smooth and silent (when the engine started it was barely noticeable) and there was no gearchanging at all. This simply did not feel like a prototype.  

All too quickly and easily, we reached our destination at Imperial College, in London’s South Kensington, where our fuel consumption was to be calculated. After careful checking by College experts our Jaguars each used between 1.1 and 1.2 litres of petrol plus 11kWh of electrical energy, the equivalent of 112mpg for the course, which was a staggering result. An old-school Jag V12 would have done well to get away with burning 14 litres – a bit over three gallons – for the same course.

Peter Richings was elated by the car’s performance, but avoided any confirmation that a hybrid Jaguar would be heading for production soon. It’s clear there are hurdles: the Ford-derived petrol engine won’t be available forever, and Jaguar would have to be sure there was a profitable demand for a hybrid version, which is doubtful at present.

Still, the way the car drove showed how well it could work. Though beset by long hills and dawdling traffic out of Brighton, we still managed to coax 23 battery-only miles out of our car, getting it almost to Crawley, the first stop, before the engine started. Thereafter the car ran mostly on its petrol engine (which we kept at 1500-1700rpm, its most efficient range) though it dipped occasionally into EV running whenever it had harvested charge on the overrun or via regenerative braking.

From a driver’s point of view the hybrid powertrain performed so sweetly that it did not disturb its luxury-car character one iota. Or its performance, for that matter: the XJ-e could have demonstrated 0-62 mph acceleration in less than 6.5 seconds, plus a 150mph top speed. What is more, its engine-start and engine-stop transitions were quiet and well cushioned, and the eight-speed transmission worked with its usual silky efficiency. In all, this was surely the smoothest, quietest and most economical way to win a driving competition ever.

Should I buy one?

You can’t, yet. And Jaguar won’t be drawn on when they’ll put a hybrid XJ on the market, either, though they have announced a hybrid Range Rover. It's bound to use a lot of the same components and will arrive during 2013.

Truth is, the market for luxury saloons is weak where fuel economy and low CO2 really count (US, Europe). Where the XJ is strong (China, Russia) economy isn’t much of an issue. An XJ hybrid will arrive, for sure, but you have time to save up.

Join the debate

Comments
48

This is getting a bit silly now.

1 year 35 weeks ago

This is not a First Drive review as you didn't drive the car. And winning some award or other is nothing compared to some proper context - I.e. how this compares to other hybrids. 

Instead we get another wholly uncritical review of a JLR product, despite the fact that Jaguar are years behind its competitors. Don't hybrids sell quite well in other markets?

scrap wrote:This is not a

1 year 35 weeks ago

scrap wrote:

This is not a First Drive review as you didn't drive the car. And winning some award or other is nothing compared to some proper context - I.e. how this compares to other hybrids. 

Instead we get another wholly uncritical review of a JLR product, despite the fact that Jaguar are years behind its competitors. Don't hybrids sell quite well in other markets?

Autocar is FULL of first drives of this ilk, where pre-production and concept cars you can't actually buy get nannied along a predefined test route and are talked up in the summary. It aggravates me no end hearing people carp and moan at how it's always JLR articles that have this special treatment because that is complete bollocks.

It is complete and total bollocks in this case when the supposed bias is sandwiched between gushing articles about the Toyota GT8, positive conjecture about the nonexistent Mercedes CLA and unbridled joy for the latest Golf. If you think Autocar being nice about something equates with being uncritical then you're not reading it properly.

There's a Range Rover diesel hybrid due in 2013. The company is small fry compared to the likes of VW so nobody should be surprised they're not at the bleeding edge with this technology. Seriously, what are people expecting here? And if you're spending £70K on a status symbol like this you aren't going to care anyway.

Jaguar Hybrid

1 year 35 weeks ago

Having been in all (but this one) Jaguars at launch this one seems a good bet, IF the fuel economy and performance figures are correct.

I always buy high end Cars BMW's of late, fuel ecenomy is a priority to me, not because I am unable to pay high fuel cost, more I DO NOT WANT TO. 

The Hybrid cars I have tested so far have been "way short on expectation" and a good diesel wipes the floor with them.

If this car comes out I would be more than willing to give it a good test drive with a veiw to purchase, and I ain't green by any way shape or form.

Jeremy Clarkson was wrong!

1 year 35 weeks ago

Now I'm confused. So confused. There seems to be a general consensus among the UK car experts that hybrids and electric cars are not feasible. ICE hardliners even assert that electric cars are on their last legs.

Why then all mainstream car makers are spending millions of pounds and thousands of hours on developing electric cars? Almost every week Autocar reveals a new electric car is on its way.

Electric cars revealed in the last few weeks include electric Ford Focus, VW Golf, Fiat 500, Chevrolet Spark, Tesla Model S, Renault Zoe, Renault Fluence,  - to name a few. Some of these are production ready others are work in progress.

One thing is amply clear electric cars are here to stay. Looks like Jeremy Clarkson will have to eat his hair again.

Please read the article again

1 year 35 weeks ago

At least Autocar have driven both the CLA and Golf, so can be expected to have come to a reasonable judgement about both. They have also driven the Range Rover and rate it, so I can accept their verdict.

What is harder to accept is to describe a report as a "First Drive" (as this one) when it is nothing of the sort. Cropley did the same thing with the Aston One-77 and I am surprised he has gone down this route again.

Finally, I accept that JLR are smaller than their rivals and need to make careful decisions about investment. But none of this is in the story - instead we get the line from the company repeated almost exactly with no context or explanation. Good journalism this is not.

fadyady wrote:   Now I'm

1 year 35 weeks ago

fadyady wrote:

 

Now I'm confused. So confused. There seems to be a general consensus among the UK car experts that hybrids and electric cars are not feasible. ICE hardliners even assert that electric cars are on their last legs.

 

Why then all mainstream car makers are spending millions of pounds and thousands of hours on developing electric cars? Almost every week Autocar reveals a new electric car is on its way.

Car manufacturers probably couldn't care less about what the customers or the experts want or really need,  its all driven by cost,  if some official says, unless you bring your emission down over your range we will hit you with massive fines, the car companies bring them down.

The government then introduce stupid tests that have not relation to real world driving, and bring out tax bands accordingly, the manufacturers produce cars that will pass with good results under test conditions, but not in real world conditions.

The manufacturers save money, the governments hit the CO2 targets, and tree huggers are happy. Clarkson knows this, and anyone with half an ounce of common sense knows this, but hey, we are officially not killing polar bears as much, even though we are.. And what happened to that pesky hole in the ozone layer that was going to fry all the penguins?  

Jaguar forever

1 year 35 weeks ago

I too am sick to death of reading comments on Autocar from people constantly seeking to knock Jaguar, especially from jealous, selfish Krauts who fear any form of competition. My goodness me, the general German characteristics are pretty unpleasant aren't they. They simply cannot help themselves and must always try to dominate. Me thinks they will need to be taught another lesson at some stage.

The figures quoted suggest this is a remarkable version of the excellent XJ. Surely Jaguar would be nuts not to put it into production. My guess is that perhaps their fear would be that it would undermine the rest of the range, but they could sell a lot of them and should try I think. And that includes in overseas markets. Never mind whether emissions and fuel economy are valued or not, that is not green thinking and practice. Just sell it and the rest will take care of itself. Watch how many Chinese and Russians find 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds, 150mph and mpg pushing 100 distinctly to their liking. Who would choose to burn money unnecessarily?

 

EU Referendum now. Let the people speak.

Some good points made by

1 year 35 weeks ago

Some good points made by CityTiger here - car manufacturers care not for CO2 and ONLY profits. They care not for emissions and would gladly hacve us using leaded petrol at a whim if that meant cheaper fuel manufacturing costs. As the would make no effort to produce more efficient engines  - they would just get larger and larger and fuel consumption rise along with other pleasant emissions such as CO (poisonous), Hydrocarbons (unburned and therefore wasted fuel and toxic partially unburnt fuel), NOx emissions which are also poisonous and lend the evening skies a pleasant orange/brown hue) and finally particulates mostly associated with diesels but until tighter emission regulation a component of all ICE vehicles.

Since emissions regs have been tightened the industry has been coeerced into improving efficiency and emissions so that we may breath clean air in our cities. Even in my short 40 year existence, I have seen the skies over Coventry change colour, and that brown hue has gone, although the lack of a motor industry has undoubtedly played a role.

So I believe we should be encouraging this kind of development if we are to continue to enjoy the freedom cars give us whilst not causing ourselves to choke on every breathe of air. Hybrids make alot of sense in the short term iuntil issues with the battery are resolved. Running a small ICE engine at a constant speed and thus more efficiently that generates electricity that is then used to drive a vehicle is very logical given the ICE vehicles are not efficient when accelerating, decelerating or at low revs.  Only on the motorway does a ICE become vaguel;y sensible, but not if the engine is running at 25% capacity - nearer 50-60% continous load is the optimum value as I understand my course material. Ironincall something a 70 HP Supermini does at 70MPH.  I choose 70MPH as that is the speed limit, and therefore there is not much point over engineering vehicle beyong this point.

I do not beleive batteries are going to do it - their energy intenstity is never going to get there, especially factirong in weight.  But Hydrogen fuel cells maybe, and until then hybrids will do better with develeopment and hopefully costs will fall and range increase on electric mode. At the moment I do feel they are not quite right yet, but better that efforts are made to get this tech working. Hence Emissions regulations and taxes.

I am still very ignorant on this subject and I have pent some years studying this kind of material. So maybe people need goverments to do theat paternal thing we all hate and steer us kicking ascreaming down the better path.

As for the Ozone layer, well that really has very little to do motor cars - firdges/freezers and  aerosols.  I suppose air conditioning in very old cars may included some, but as CFC use has been banned for some time, the good news is the hole in the ozone is shrinking now and should be back to pre-CFC days over the next 30-40 years.  Perhaps regualtino of industries can work after all.

And thank you for helping me with my assigment - I was beginning to think this was obvious and everyone understood this kind of thing. This helped me get my thoughts together.

Quote:What is harder to

1 year 35 weeks ago

Quote:

What is harder to accept is to describe a report as a "First Drive" (as this one) when it is nothing of the sort. Cropley did the same thing with the Aston One-77 and I am surprised he has gone down this route again.

I really think you need to get over the fact this is a "ride" rather than a "drive", particularly as it's made clear in the text. It's just an article that doesn't fit any existing template.

Five years ago Autocar were biased towards BMW, then it was Ford, then BMW again, then Audi, and now it's JLR. You might feel this article is less than illuminating but then the endless accusations are even less so.

i bet it is a smooth drive

1 year 27 weeks ago

Having always had a soft spot for jags, i am really happy that they are still keeping some heritage styling rather than completely reinvent their ethos. The same applies to their tailored car mats that are just lush. I just hope that this can stave off the likes of the bmw 5 series and audi a4 competition.

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Our Verdict

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

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