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.