What is it?
Although this Jaguar XF may look no different to versions we’ve previously tested, there’s a significant change beneath its aluminium architecture. For the first time, the British brand’s executive saloon is available with the intelligent all-wheel-drive system that was first seen in the F-Type.
Unlike a permanent system that drives all four wheels all the time, Jaguar’s system powers only the rear wheels until extra traction is required. This should help agility while giving the kind of all-weather dependability drivers of the Audi A6 quattro love so much.
Naturally, there is a penalty for the additional hardware. Weight is up by around 100kg with an increase in carbon emissions and fuel consumption too. It should also be noted that you are restricted to Jaguar's 177bhp Ingenium diesel and eight-speed ZF auto if you want an AWD model.
What's it like?
Those expecting the extra grip to equate to a faster 0-62mph time will be disappointed; the XF AWD is nearly half a second slower against the clock if the official figures are to be believed. However, its top speed is unchanged, should your route to work involve an unrestricted autobahn.
While 8.4sec doesn’t sound too shabby a 0-62mph figure, the AWD feels more sluggish than this suggests. Ultimately, acceleration is adequate, and the car never felt strained accelerating to, and sitting at 130kmh on our French autoroute drive.
In normal driving conditions, the XF AWD feels little different to the two-wheel drive model. The steering remains as quick and accurate as ever, which helps the XF feel far more agile than you might expect from a big saloon - the stiffer suspension of the R-Sport test car helped further.
Firming up the XF may help handling, but it doesn't help comfort. Rough surfaces agitate the ride, although it never becomes outright unpleasant. If you’re swayed by the racy styling of the R-Sport model, you'll put up with it, but the Prestige and Portfolio models have a softer set-up and a more compliant ride.
It’s really only when you push the XF hard enough to begin losing traction that the differences between two and four-wheel drive XFs become apparent. Of course, on wet and icy roads, the difference is seen sooner. On dry roads, you'll have to be trying exceedingly hard to get power sent to the front wheels.