We think of the luxury-sedan class as being rear-wheel drive, but it’s increasingly becoming all-wheel drive. According to Jaguar, cars with four driven wheels currently account for 40 percent of large-luxury-sedan sales. Already, the Audi A8, the BMW 7-series, the Lexus LS, and the Mercedes-Benz S-class offer AWD. Now, the Jaguar XJ does, too.
New supercharged six
For the XJ, all-wheel drive is paired exclusively with Jaguar’s supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine. Also a new offering, the new engine follows the trend away from eight-cylinder powerplants and toward boosted sixes. The V-6 is your only choice with all-wheel-drive in the XJ, but it also can be had with rear-wheel drive. In all cases, a ZF eight-speed automatic does the shifting.
Making 340 hp and 323 lb-ft of torque, the supercharged V-6 is on par with the turbo sixes from Audi and BMW. Factory measurements put the 0-to-60-mph time for the V-6 AWD car at 6.1 seconds, against 5.4 seconds for the 385-hp V-8 with rear-wheel drive. (Supercharged 470-hp and 510-hp V-8s shrink that number even further.) So this big cat doesn’t leap with the same verve as its eight-cylinder counterparts -- particularly the supercharged models -- but it’s far from slow. Nor does it have the melodious exhaust note of the V-8, but that’s typical of boosted V-6 engines. As expected, it’s more abstemious with fuel, as the AWD V-6 models get better gas mileage than the rear-wheel-drive V-8. EPA figures for the AWD XJ are 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway. Aiding the cause in the city is an automatic stop/start system; it’s fairly -- but not perfectly -- unobtrusive. Those who find it annoying can switch it off. As ever, the XJ exhibits the skillful chassis tuning that has become a Jaguar hallmark. The ride is at once sporty yet plush -- despite the test car’s high-fashion (and high-dollar) 20-inch wheels and ultra-low-profile rubber.
It’s a stretch
The polished wheels together with the crystal blue metallic paint made for a striking visual statement on this long-wheelbase XJL Portfolio. The long-wheelbase model’s 5-inch-greater span between the axles nets you an additional 5-plus inches of rear-seat legroom. Despite the stretch, head clearance -- particularly when getting in and out -- is just adequate. The optional rear-seat entertainment system ($2200) and rear-seat comfort pack ($5000) maximize the chauffeur-driven experience. The latter includes reclining seatbacks with power lumbar and massage function, footrests, a power rear sunshade, and foldout seatback tables, among other items. Those options helped push the bottom-line sticker to $101,875; of that total, all-wheel drive accounts for $2500. (In the standard-wheelbase XJ, all-wheel drive adds $2400.)
Jaguar’s much-maligned touch-screen navigation and infotainment system has been replaced with the one from the latest Range Rovers. It’s much better than the maddeningly slow unit that preceded it but could be improved with more functions outside of the screen, such as radio tuning and navigation zoom. More unusual is the all-electronic instrument cluster. Rather than a physical speedometer and tachometer, the XJ has a TFT screen with representations of gauges. Although this allows the space to also work for other purposes -- the fuel gauge can disappear briefly and be replaced by a turn direction from the navigation system, or the tachometer can give way to the trip computer menu -- it still somehow seems wrong. It might be one thing if the electronic gauges looked modern and high-tech, but they don’t, or if you could choose among several different styles, but you can’t. What you get is a representation of classic-style gauges instead of the real thing, which seems like the wrong answer at a time when people are looking for authenticity, particularly in luxury products.
That gauge cluster, however, is the only off note in the XJL Portfolio’s interior, which is otherwise a very high-style environment. (The best detail may be the big metal bulls-eye air vents, which look and feel great.) Delivering high style, inside and out, is a Jaguar must. Together with superior driving dynamics, it is one of the twin pillars of the brand. Jaguar needs to continue to work so that buyers needn’t make sacrifices to own a Jaguar. Removing the no-AWD obstacle was an important one.