Vital Stats

Engine:
SC 3.0L V6
Power:
340 HP / 332 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
6.1 Seconds
Top Speed:
155 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,125 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
15.2 CU-FT
MPG:
16 City / 24 HWY
Even though this year's winter has gotten off to an abnormally slow start for most of North America, Jaguar has shown the world it means business by launching its all-new Instinctive All Wheel Drive system in Montreal, Canada. Designed primarily for consumers in the Northern US and Canada, Jaguar put us on the same snowy, slushy and icy roads that many of its buyers will have to deal with. Rather than making declawed versions of the XJ and XF, Jag says this system enhances the performance abilities of its sedans when desired while still making them as fun to drive as their rear-wheel-drive counterparts. We had a chance to test out both the XF AWD and XJ AWD, but we spent most of our time behind the wheel of the flagship XJ, driving it on the open roads as well as a few closed courses.

Considering the lengthy and convoluted history of the Jaguar brand – including a stint as a member of Ford's defunct Premier Automotive Group alongside Volvo and Aston Martin – it is rather surprising that the automaker is just now getting around to introducing an all-wheel-drive system intended for widespread use, but the new Instinctive AWD will finally allow the XF, XJ and other future products to better compete against the likes of Mercedes-Benz 4Matic, BMW xDrive and Audi Quattro. In the XJ, Jaguar expects the AWD models to account for around 40 percent of the product mix nationwide and a little bit more (50 percent) for the XF, but in the northern states, it expects around 80 percent of XF sales to be AWD variants.
  • Instinctive AWD is rear-biased and operates as full rear-wheel drive in good weather, but when the road conditions turn slick, the system can split engine power 50:50 between front and rear axles using a center transfer case.
  • In addition to driving the XJ AWD on the street, we had a chance to test out its abilities at the Mecaglisse motorsports complex – about an hour and a half north of Montreal. On separate tracks normally used for motorcycle and rally car racing, Jaguar let us test out the XJ AWD and XF AWD for accelerating, braking and cornering on snow- and ice-covered asphalt and dirt tracks. Both of these circuits demonstrated the two different attitudes these cars can exhibit. With Winter mode on, the system does a great job of nannying the driver making sure the car keeps its footing and remains on the road, but staying true to Jag's motorsports heritage, the system can also be set to Dynamic to improve the performance of the car in bad weather giving the driver fewer safety nets to rely on. The complex also had courses set up for snowy slaloms and an icy, drift-friendly skidpad.
  • Rather than being a part of an expensive option package, each AWD version of the XJ and XF will be an individual model. This means that getting the added benefit of all-wheel traction doesn't require buyers to opt for other unrelated packages (such as a cold-weather or technology package, for example) that some automakers force on buyers. On the XJ, AWD is offered on both regular and long-wheelbase XJL models.
  • Neither the XJ nor the XF architectures were originally designed to accept all-wheel-drive, so Jaguar made extensive changes to parts of the car most people will never see, including the suspension, front floorboard and even some of the engine components. For example, to keep the engine low in the engine bay for optimal balance, the front driveshaft is actually built into the oil pan. All of the changes and added AWD parts increase the XJ's curb by less than 300 pounds.
  • As the new base engine in the XJ, Instinctive AWD can only be had on cars equipped with the new 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine. While this engine lacks the throaty exhaust note of the 5.0-liter V8, at virtually no point can its performance be faulted especially when factoring in the car's curb weight of just over two tons.
  • The XJ AWD comes standard with Continental all-season tires, but Jaguar equipped our test cars with Pirelli M+S winter tires. While this certainly helped the cars handle better in the snow, Jaguar representatives noted this was done so to abide by Quebec law – and besides, these tires are available as an option.
  • I was able to learn firsthand just how far the system allows the car to be pushed, too. In my first lap around the snow-covered off-road course in Winter mode, the Instinctive AWD and its associated systems interjected frequently to slow the car and help keep it on its intended path. On the ensuing laps, in Dynamic mode, things got a little hairier. With an instructor riding shotgun shouting driving instructions like a rally car co-pilot (to fully exhibit the car's potential in a short period of time), I spent most of the next two laps doing my best trying to go as quickly as possible while keeping the car on the track. I almost made it. On one portion, the surface was too icy and the dirt embankment just a bit too close. Egos and lower fascia were bruised, proving that not even winter tires and great AWD system can always save you from Mother Nature.


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  • 37 Comments
      brgtlm
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think it is a stunning car in darker colors and it is great that they brought out V6 and AWD options. I don't see too many of them on the road and that is a crime, because it really deserves more sales from BMW, MB, and Lexus drivers.
      GGabriel
      • 2 Years Ago
      On light cruising or at a stop light, the supercharger is free spinning with no load on it. It takes less than a 1/2 horsepower to run it. When you step on it, boom, instant power. This is an amazing blower that combines 4 lobes with a heavy twist to it, instead of the 3 lobe blower design. It's also on the Corvette ZR-1.
      Teleny411
      • 2 Years Ago
      I like the fact the author pointed out that even with awd poor conditions are still risky. Since the advent of SUVs people (like the fool who hit me when he lost control!) drive like the awd enabled them to stop, turn, etc in bad conditions at high speeds.
        gnc1998c
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Teleny411
        I hear ya, people with awd vehicles think they do not have to be careful. AWD vehicles are ALWAYS
          gnc1998c
          • 1 Year Ago
          @gnc1998c
          I hear ya, people with awd vehicles think they do not have to be careful. AWD vehicles are ALWAYS the ones in the ditch. All that is needed is the right shoes on the car. You would not go out in a snowstorm with stilletos, would you?
      Bernard
      • 2 Years Ago
      The lack of 8 cylinders in such an expensive car makes me sad...
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bernard
        Cheer up! 6 is not actually worse than 8.
        gnc1998c
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bernard
        Oh for cryin out loud, your only giving up 45hp with the S/C V6.
      Jameskey
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love almost everything about this car. V6 vs V8 for weight savings, AWD. The 16MPG city is terrible though.
        Brian Lara
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jameskey
        MPG is downside of the super charger.
          Classic_Engr
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brian Lara
          You mean MPG city. With the 8-spd, MPG highway is not bad for a flagship luxury cruiseship like this. Yes, this car is big, yet it weighs only 4125 thanks to its aluminum construction..
      wfmsu7
      • 2 Years Ago
      The XJ (and XF for that matter) are great looking cars. It's too bad Jaguar consistently falls in dead last place of reliability rankings.
        gnc1998c
        • 1 Year Ago
        @wfmsu7
        I guess you have not read the latest JD Powers? Where are you people coming from????
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      XJ is a stellar looking vehicle.
      The Wasp
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm kind of surprised Jaguar is sticking with the Mondeo 3.0L V6...I wonder if they will eventually switch to the Cyclone V6. Of course, they have made many improvements and 340hp is plenty so I don't mean to suggest there's a need for change...
        GGabriel
        • 2 Years Ago
        @The Wasp
        It's not the old V6 engine. Jag cut off the last two cylinder banks off their 5.0 V8 (also not a Ford) and put a twin vortex supercharger in the bottom of the V. This is a fantastic engine!
      Nick Allain
      • 2 Years Ago
      The V6 in this car gets no complaints for me. It pulls like you'd expect a Jaguar to pull and it feels strangely good (probably because of the weight savings in the front over the v8). The AWD system is quite good at making this car a serviceable winter car. That said, this isn't an Evo. It's kind of like driving a magical block of cheese through the north pole. If you leave it in winter mode, it makes you go "huh, I guess I didn't slip there... because magic." You could drive over an icy pond and your passengers may be none the wiser but if you're someone who enjoys that feeling of knowing the exact limit through all your bodily inputs, this is not your AWD system. And that's my two cents. Take 'em or leave 'em.
        FreeThinker
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick Allain
        Hmm. This is Jaguar's flagship luxury car intended for mid-to-high level executives and business owners. No one is comparing it to a rally-inspired AWD Evo. This new AWD system simply opens up markets in northern regions that experience a fair share of inclement weather for Jaguar. Those customers previously only considered the German AWD luxury sedans or a second SUV-type vehicle as an option. The hope is that they will cross shop Jaguars now as well.
      Michele-Rene
      • 2 Years Ago
      ROSS!!!!
      bjcmd
      • 1 Year Ago
      I bought the new 2011 XJ in 2010. First wave off the boat! The car did have reliability/quality problems in that first distribution. Mostly centered around the complex electrical system. The dealership and Jaguar replaced/fixed everything and except the inconvenience of a loner car, they made the car right. Since that time, the car has been everything I had hoped. I drove the Lexus for 17 years, and was becoming board to tears. This car woke me up. I will probably go to the AWD soon, but I will certainly miss that V8 growl and power. If you haven't taken one out for a spin yet, do so. Its addicting!!!
        Mayuresh Gaikwad
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bjcmd
        Great to see that JLR service has improved so much from the poor service levels of old days. I also read that they have improved their reliability dramatically in 2009 ( http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/jaguar-the-most-dependable-car-really/ ). Too bad, it did not manifest into your car in the beginning. So noww we have another choice to seriously consider when we buy a premium car! - Merc, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Acura, Infiniti, Cadillac, Lincoln & Jaguar
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