Sam Philip16 August 2012

Jaguar XF and XJ to go AWD

Jag offers snowproof versions of its saloons (but they’re not coming to Britain)

Jagur XJ XF AWD

Are you an American, Russian, Chinese or Continental European? Do you very much want a Jaguar XF or XJ? Do you also want to avoid crashing into a pine tree when it snows?

If you've answered ‘yes' to all of the above questions, good news: Jaguar has today announced its previously RWD-only saloons will soon be available with all-wheel drive.

The AWD system will be mated to Jaguar's lovely 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine and eight-speed auto' box, plunging the XF and XJ into direct battle with Audi's 3.0 TFSI ‘quattro' models. Both will hit 60mph in 6.1 seconds, and both will run all the way to their 155mph limiters.

Jaguar has spent eighteen months developing an AWD system that replicates the feel of its RWD cars. Using an active wet-clutch coupling system to direct torque to a new front propshaft, differential and halfshafts, in normal driving conditions it delivers most of its power to the rear axle, only feeding the front wheels when grip starts to fade.

With Jaguar keen to boost overseas sales, the business case for a quattro XF and XJ was unavoidable. Seven of every ten luxury saloons sold in the USA's ‘snow belt' is four-wheel drive: buyers in Russia's and China's colder climes are equally keen on the added security of four driven wheels.

If you're even considering grumbling about Jaguar undermining its glorious RWD heritage by offering all-wheel drive saloons, stop it: as Clarkson discovered way back in 2004, Jaguar once offered a four-wheel drive X-Type - and even the awesome XJ220 hypercar was originally slated to be 4WD before it transmogrified to rear-drive.

All AWD Jaguars will be built at JLR's Castle Bromwich plant, a welcome little boost following news earlier this week that Land Rover's Halewood facility will enter 24-hour production to meet soaring demand for the Evoque. More good news!

But here's the bad news: Jaguar says that, with just five per cent of UK luxury saloon buyers preferring four-wheel drive, the AWD XJ and XF won't be available in Britain... although we can't believe Jaguar won't leave the door open for UK versions of its AWD saloons, given sufficient demand. So if you're keen on a XF or XJ capable of conquering our recently polar winters, clap your hands and stamp your feet in the comment boxes below...

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