Cat lovers, do you want to stay home all winter? Of course you don’t. But with the ordinary rear-wheel drive Jaguars in the snow, our best advice is to bring the Land Rover out of the garage. But as nice as a Land Rover/Range Rover may be, it’s still not Jaguar
Lucky for you Jaguar has tapped Land Rover for all-wheel drive technology so the Jaguar XF and Jaguar XJ sedans can be equipped with all-wheel drive.
Of those two, the Jaguar XF is Jaguar’s small sedan, something Jaguar failed before in the U.S. with the Ford-based Jaguar X-type that Jaguar would prefer you forget. But the Jaguar XF is available in the U.S. with a two-liter four cylinder. Holy blasphemy, Jag Man. However, equipped with a turbocharger, it’s rated at 240 horsepower. It’s called, appropriately enough, the Jaguar 2.0 T Premium, the addendum because Jaguar made last year’s Premium Pack standard for this year. So there’s no 2.0 T Ordinary.
At the other end of the Jaguar XF spectrum are the supercharged V-8s, appropriately enough the XF Supercharged, then the XFR and the XFR-S, making 470 horsepower, 510 horsepower, and 550 horsepower respectively.
In the happy middle—although there’s nothing unhappy about a supercharged V-8, actually—are the three-liter V-6 duo. Both are powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that makes 340 horsepower. The difference between them is that one is rear-wheel drive, designated the XF 3.0, while the other is the Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD, with the aforementioned all-wheel drive.
Jaguar has an advantage over other carmakers when it comes to all-wheel drive systems, and it’s called Land Rover. With decades of off-road and four/all-wheel experience, the Land Rover half of Jaguar Land Rover had plenty to share.
A second edge over some carmakers is that the Jaguar XF’s engine is aligned longitudinally. This arrangement helps in allowing the Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD to bias torque via the all-wheel drive system to the rear wheels. That’s better for maintaining Jaguar’s superior handling in the change from rear to all-wheel drive, and definitely better than some competitive sedans that are nominally front-drive and engage the rear wheels only when traction is necessary.
With the Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD, power is sent to the front wheels via a transfer case on the left side of the transmission with a shaft going forward to the front differential, and then with the prop shafts extending through the engine sump. That allows the engine to be kept low to maintain a low center of gravity. A multi-plate wet clutch apportions torque between the front and rear as directed by a Transfer Case Control Module, which monitors grip levels and driver inputs. The system isn’t passive, just reacting to tire slip, but for example will shift torque to the front wheels during hard acceleration or situations where a loss of traction might occur, preventing it before it happens. Jaguar calls it a “feed-forward” element of the control algorithms.
The Transfer Case Control Module also works in winter mode. When selected by the driver, it bolstes the torque transfer to the front for a stronger all-wheel drive effect. Jaguar’s Drive Control also has a Dynamic mode sharpens throttle response and makes the transmission shift more quickly and at higher revs, but it doesn’t change operation of the all-wheel drive system.
The engine’s ECU was recalibrated to accommodate the all-wheel drive system, with changes to fuel lines, hoses, air intake and exhaust, along with a new engine undertray and heat shield, and adding a new acoustic pack to prevent any additional noise from getting to the cabin. A new a new front subframe, cross member, engine mounts and exhaust system were also fabricated to accommodate all-wheel drive.
Jaguar wanted the system to be unobtrusive, and it is, to a point. A driver won’t notice anything different behind the wheel on dry pavement. Let the pavement get slippery, snow covered or otherwise compromised and the rear-drive panic a thing of the past. No more wishing you were in a Subaru…
There’s no doubt from the exterior styling, however, that the Jaguar XF isn’t a Subaru, or anything else, for that matter. The rounded-rectangle grille is pure Jag, and the hood, roof and trunklid contours, if not wholly unique, are sleek. One observer looking at it from the side thought it was a Maserati. Not bad company to keep, but not, well, not just and only a Jaguar.
The angle of the A- and C-pillars, however, makes getting in or out of front or back a remember-to-duck-your-head affair. The back seat is snug, not unexpected for this size of sedan, but the distance between the B-pillar and the front of the back seat makes it difficult for back seat occupants to slide their feet through the gap when getting in or out. The front seats have an odd bottom, deep and almost sat-out feeling. It’s a different kind of bolstering, perhaps, low in the middle rather than high on the side. It takes some getting used to.
Interior styling is best called subdued. Everything has a quality feel, though the overall forms are simple, with a horizontal band across the dash, and two big very British white-on-black dials for the tach and speedometer under an arching hood. The starter button, down on the center console, pulses red, like a heartbeat, when the passive key comes inside the car. Then when the car is started, the rotary shifter knob rises out of the center console and four vents rotate upwards out of the dash to open. The vents stay open while the car is on, but it would be neat if they were open only when air was directed through them, opening and closing with operation of the automatic heater/air conditioning. Jaguar, take a note.
Speaking of seats, the engine can push occupants back into them hard when the throttle is pushed. Acceleration is impressive. The supercharged V-6 is based on Jaguar’s V-8 engine block, a 90 degree vee with balance shaft to provide Jaguaresque refinement. Jaguar claims a 0-60 mph dash of 6.1 seconds for the all-wheel drive-equipped 3.0, losing four-tenths of a second to the rear-wheel only drive.
And although the quiet drive is appreciated around town and on the highway, the Jaguar engineers who worked on the Jaguar F-Type’s exhaust should be brought over to the XF engineering team. The 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD lacks the aural excitement a Jaguar should have.
Our test 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD had a base price of $59,875, but it should be noticed that the final price is only $925 higher, mainly because the destination charge is $925. There’s no piling on of a la carte items that can, for example, bring a BMW’s price up by half from the base price. Jaguar takes a more Honda—OK, Acura—approach with an all-inclusive price.
For the Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD, there are two trim variations, Portfolio and Sport. They are priced equally and differ in design more than content, regular bumper versus “sport” bumper and such. Portfolio was an option package last year. It’s made an alternative option to the Sport.
The 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD, Sport or Portfolio, isn’t the ultimate snow machine. Its sedan ground clearance means that a Land Rover would have been more appropriate in Boston for much of the first two months of 2015. But for Jaguar style that’s functional in a snowbelt winter as it is in, well, a sunbelt winter, there it is, the 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD, coat, hat and scarf optional.
2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD Sport, price and key specifications as tested
Body style/layout: 5-door crossover wagon, front engine/all-wheel drive
Base price: $59,875
Price as tested: $60,800
- Type: 3.0-liter 24-valve DOHC supercharged V-6
- Displacement, cc: 2995
- Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum
- Compression ratio: 10.5:1
- Horsepower: 340 @ 6500 rpm
- Torque: 332 @ 3500-5000 rpm
- Recommended fuel: premium unleaded
- Fuel economy, EPA est.: 17/27 mpg city/highway
- Fuel economy, observed: 19.4 mpg
Transmission: 8-speed automatic paddle-shift
- Suspension, front/rear: double wishbone / multilink
- Wheels: 18 x 8.5 / 20 x 9.0-inch alloy
- Tires: 255/30R20
- Brakes: 4-wheel disc; 14.0-inch dia. front/12.8-inch dia. rear
- Steering: power rack-and-pinion, speed-sensitive variable-ratio
- Turning circle: 39.8 ft.
- Wheelbase: 114.5 in.
- Length: 195.3 in.
- Height: 57.5 in.
- Width: 73.9 in. (“mirrors folded”)
- Curb weight: 4,145 lbs
- Trunk volume: 17.7 cu. ft.
- Fuel tank: 18.4 gal.
- Airbags: Front, front side, side curtain
- Anti-lock brakes: Yes Traction control: Yes Stability control: Yes Electronic brake-force distribution: Yes Brake assist: Yes
- Other: cornering brake control, engine drag torque control, blind spot monitor
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper; 4-year/50,000 mile powertrain; first scheduled service, 4-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance