Jag launches 4x4s


Jaguar has landed a light but important punch on the nose of Audi and other premium rivals with the launch of all-wheel drive versions of the XF and XJ. We’ll have to applaud from afar however, because the cars, with their subtle 3.0 AWD badging, aren’t coming to the UK.

AWD system paired with blown V6
AWD system paired with blown V6
The reason, Jag says, is that AWD accounts for just five per cent of the UK luxury saloon market. That’s compared to about a third of the US market, where 80 per cent of these are heading. The rest will be split between Russia and continental Europe.

As if to make that point, the only engine variant to get the AWD set-up the 340hp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol. So for us, the X-type remains the only all-wheel-drive Jaguar (there’s a statement begging to be disproved).

Of course this system is a lot more sophisticated than the permanent ‘Traction 4’ system on X-Type.

The eight-speed auto box has been fitted with a transfer case with an electronically operated coupling that can direct up to 50 per cent of the torque to the front wheels if slip is detected.

Half the torque can be sent to the front
Half the torque can be sent to the front
That detection is the work of sensors on everything from the wheels to the steering wheel and is long way from the old viscous coupling on the original X-Types (even that got binned for later AWD models). Jaguar reckons there is no penalty in terms of ride quality, agility or driver enjoyment and has given the AWD cars new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars up front. There’s also a new steering knuckle to better replicate the feedback of rear-wheel-drive cars. It doesn’t impact on fuel economy too much: 29mpg versus 30mpg on the XF.

We spoke to Theo Gassmann, director of advanced engineering at globally renowned (and British) driveshaft and transmission makers GKN to ask exactly what good AWD systems do. “You can reduce oversteering tendency in slippery conditions,” he tells us. “It means less brake intervention to stabilise the car.”

Most AWD versions will be sold in US
Most AWD versions will be sold in US
Essentially, he says, there’s less lift-off oversteer coming into a corner and less power oversteer coming out. Not great for the likes of Harris, but then these are luxury barges. Audi of course is the master at this, offering Quattro on four engines for the A6 and every engine on the A8 in the UK, among others. BMW is expected to add xDrive versions (operating a very similar system to Jaguar) on its 3 Series in the autumn and maybe the 5 Series next year.

Currently Mercedes doesn’t offer any 4matic saloons or estates either – okay, the R-Class – but the forthcoming AMG A-Class will be AWD.

So, good news if you root for Jaguar as a company, less exciting if you’re in the market for a less scrabbly luxury saloon this winter.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (61) Join the discussion on the forum

  • theJT 21 Aug 2012

    Sorry about that lads, my machine had a little moment and I ended up deleting the post by accident - then I went away for the weekend and left it. Feel kinda stupid now.

  • DonkeyApple 21 Aug 2012

    LewisR said:
    I think that there is too much emphasis on 4x4 for UK winters. EVO magazine did an excellent article on an XFR with and without winter tyres ona snow/slush track and also compared it against a standard-tyred Mitsubishi Evo XI or something. The winter tyred XFR blitzed the other two cars. (Google - Evo XFR Tyres).
    Yup. The real problem is that people are simply not prepping their cars suitably for the brief condition changes that we see every so often.

    It isn't really logical to buy a more costly to run 4x4 if you mostly live in an urban, semi-urban environment just to cover you for a couple of weeks when it may or may not snow.

    My prefered solutions are to firstly keep a couple of sets of snow socks in the boot of the BMW and a pre '72 Rangie (Landy will suffice) in the garage. biggrin Even a couple of big bags of sand in the boot can help a RWD car get more traction.

    Most people who do buy a 4x4 to cover them for the odd bit of snow still don't prep it properly and then get confused when their wide, sporty tyres don't give them any traction.

  • LewisR 21 Aug 2012

    I think that there is too much emphasis on 4x4 for UK winters. EVO magazine did an excellent article on an XFR with and without winter tyres on a snow/slush track and also compared it against a standard-tyred Mitsubishi Evo XI or something. The winter tyred XFR blitzed the other two cars. (Google - Evo XFR Tyres).


    Edited by LewisR on Monday 20th August 11:58

  • bakerstreet 21 Aug 2012

    Digga said:
    I've been waiting for this - the crossover of LR 4x4 expertise into Jag. I've felt for a while that one facter that draws people out of luxo-barges and into 4x4s in winter grip. PLus, for the mad power outputs of the top-range models, we are reaching sensible limits for 2wd.

    I'm just thoroughly disappointented teh UK won't get a look in, given our roads and winters.
    Our winters are nothing like what they experience in certain areas of the USA and Canada. We get a week of Snow and people get all excited about 4x4s. Snow can last for months in the US and Canada and I am guessing that is why they are only heading there.

    Also, I can't imagine many people wanting 4x4 version in a petrol!

  • Moog72 21 Aug 2012

    If Jag did an "R" XF Sportbrake in AWD guise, I'm sure they'd sell by the bucket load. I know I'd be in the queue for one.
    I thought there was a rumour of one though, after the cooking diesel versions have hit the market?

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