Now with sharper claws

2013 Jaguar XJ AWD First Impressions

2013 Jaguar XJ AWD First Impressions
Mont-Tremblant, QC - Having all but one element craved by buyers of products similar to yours is possibly the most frustrating situation for any company. For example, Jaguar boasts the name, the engines, the transmissions and the styling, but lacks a crucial element all other luxury manufacturers offer: AWD.

And so, the introduction of Jaguar’s AWD hoists it, and their flagship XJ, to its rightful place alongside the Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series. In fact, because it’s a Jaguar, it may warrant more attention...

The 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD is sumptuous (has always been), and now has the grip to tackle all weather/road conditions. Everything Jaguar buyers have come to love and appreciate is there; so could this car be the ultimate in posh all-season mobility? My time at the wheel suggests; yes.

Jaguar XJ AWD 2013

The instinct to move forward
Jaguar’s aforementioned AWD system is rear-biased which helps maintain an all important driving dynamic. The transfer case, located at the tip of the transmission, is a multi-plate wet clutch setup that can send up to 50% of the torque to the front wheels.

A non-negligible advantage to this system is that it preloads the front wheels to help with traction on takeoff. Similarly, the Winter mode defaults to a 30/70 front-to-rear torque split and a 2nd gear start, further enhancing initial grip from a standstill.

The beauty of this AWD system is that it is very adaptive: The driver can give his input, however, the system's dynamics and instincts are more than capable of working it all out solo. It is smooth, refined and unobtrusive -- Jag’s words, but they best sum up the situation.

The other game-changer
And this will really make a good dent in Jaguar’s sales numbers: The 2013 Jaguar XJ and 2013 Jaguar XF both receive the make’s new 3.0L supercharged V6. Also shared with the all-new, and super seductive 2014 F-Type, this high compression and direct fuel-injected mill produces 340 hp at 6,500 rpm with 332 lb-ft of torque on tap from 3,500 to 5,000 rpm.

Here, the 8-cog Jaguar-tuned ZF transmission equipped with wheel-mounted paddles improves fuel consumption by roughly 15% over the outgoing base 5.0L V8, which is not an inconsiderable amount. See, Jaguar isn't just about tire-shredding performance.

2013 Jaguar XJ AWD engine
The 2013 Jaguar XJ and 2013 Jaguar XF both receive the make’s new 3.0L supercharged V6. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

Silken momentum
At the wheel of the 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD, I knew I could pretty much destroy any other car I pulled up to thanks, in no small part, to the car’s AWD system.

Throttle down, the engine emits a low rumble covered by a perfect dose of charger whine while the transmission swaps cogs with uncanny velvetiness. Progress is swift, and in Dynamic mode, steering sharpens up considerably. With the transmission in Sport mode, the big XJ really comes to life.

You already know that a non-R or R-S Jag is not meant for street racing, however, the 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD will reach 100 km/h in 6.4 seconds. It's meant for street cruising in absolute style and posh comfort. Ground is covered with ease and poise.

The ease comes via one of the most opulent and luxurious cabins in the business: Leather, suede and wood abound and simply make occupants want to stay put as the remainder of the world seems so ugly and dirty by comparison.

Jaguar XJ AWD 2013 intérieur
The ease comes via one of the most opulent and luxurious cabins in the business. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

On road and off
Jaguar’s planned route for the launch of the 2013 XJ sincerely put the car through some serious conditions that it will likely never face at the hands of a typical owner. From highway cruising to near-off-road, unpaved, rocky, uneven terrain, the 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD took it all in stride.

On the freeway, I may as well have been piloting a Bombardier Global 8000 Jet given how good the ride was. Always in full control and constantly vigilant, the 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD’s road-holding prowess belie the car’s size. The use of aluminum is extensive, and so the car’s weight is kept in check. Although 70kg (154 lb) heavier than the 2WD car, the XJ drove commendably well. I’d say as well as the 2013 Audi A8 3.0 TFSI. This is a compliment.

On the harsher trails we travelled, the only injury suffered was a tire puncture. No complaining or unexpected mishaps (read: rattles or trim pieces falling off) occurred, and this “road” was a number of kilometres long.

AWD will set you free
AWD will open the floodgates for more market share as 80% now becomes available to the XJ (the RWD share in this segment is only 20%); a place Jaguar never thought they could go.

In fact, these cars were never designed to handle AWD and this explains the significant changes made to the suspension and front subframe. Interestingly, the front differential is set up alongside the engine, and the right-side driveshaft actually crosses the oil pan/sump.

This was done to keep the 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD’s centre of gravity as low as possible to not affect the car's handling, which it did very well.

The 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD is about driving and being driven. On top of this, overall quality is on the rise and Jaguar is only halfway through their new product onslaught. This is a momentous time in Jaguar’s long and storied history, and worth paying attention to.

By Mathieu St-Pierre,

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