2013 Jaguar XJ
Date Posted: August 14, 2013
By Zack Spencer
Jaguar's flagship sedan gets a new supercharged V6 and AWD.
I have to say right off the bat I have had the opportunity, over the past year, to drive four different Jaguar models and each one has left me impressed. In a few weeks I will be covering the hot, two-seat roadster, called the F-Type. But this week it is all about cruising in Jaguar's flagship XJ sedan, now equipped with a supercharged V6 engine, all wheel drive (AWD) and an 8-speed automatic. The idea is to bring efficiency to a company that has thrived on powerful V8 engines to propel their cars and Land Rover SUV's. The push is on to make these prestigious products more environmentally responsible. The trick is to achieve better consumption results but also keep the driver engaged. I'm here to tell you that I was able to get very good fuel numbers over a 600km plus round trip from Vancouver to the Okanagan and back.
Heading out on the open road, carving through British Columbia's stunning mountains on the famous and infamous Coquihala highway was a great test drive. This big Jag throws a formidable shadow. The long, lean body looks like it deserves respect and the aggressive grill and headlight design had other driver's pulling over at the first sight of its chunky chrome grille. Jaguar did not have an AWD car in their lineup until now. With the German's selling the majority of their sedans with AWD put this British maker at a disadvantage. The good news is that they now offer this important technology but it is only paired to the supercharged V6 engine, not the more powerful V8 engines. I did notice that the body sits higher off the wheels, which is often the case with AWD sedans. I'm not sure that I'm sold on the rear of the car. Last year I rented a Peugeot 508 while in Europe and it has a similar sad looking backend.
Full sized luxury sedans makers have a similar interior checklist. Gobs of first-rate leather, touches of wood, chrome accents, advanced electronics and a wow factor all makes up todays premium cars. The way each manufacturer takes these elements and weaves them together is quiet different. For example, the all-new 2014 Mercedes S-Class is at the top of the class, using two huge screens to provide the infotainment and dash cluster information. The XJ isn't as in your face as the new Mercedes and not as stark as the BMW 7 Series. The dash is low, with a huge windscreen, letting the driver see well down the road. The steering wheel and digital instrument cluster sit low, making this big sedan feel sportier than many of the other cars in this class. The chrome-work is stunning and frames rich, dark wood and sumptuous leather surfaces. This car looks rich. Not rich, in terms of money (even though it does) rather rich in tone. One area that I feel Jaguar is falling behind is the centre screen. It is smaller than most and looks rather dated.
Jaguar has a few tricks to help achieve better fuel economy. The first is using a supercharged 3.0L V6 engine over a V8. Second, the power goes through an 8-speed automatic transmission to the AWD system. I noticed when cruising at 100km/h that the engine is ticking over at just 1200 rpm. With the engine running at such a relaxed pace, one might think that there is no power available, but the reality is that there is plenty in reserve. When a quick passing maneuver is needed, the transmission is willing to drop rapidly to a lower gear, the revs shoot up and the 340hp power plant is more than willing to get the job done. What I'm most impressed about with the Jag's I've driven lately is the direct steering feel. I recently drive the same route in an Audi S8 and their AWD steering feel is very vague compared to this XJ. The whole car feels much smaller than it is; the experience was very relaxing, yet sure footed.
The good news is that all the hard work has paid off for Jaguar. This new supercharged V6, 8-speed automatic combination produced just 8.7L/100km in all highway driving. This is covering some very steep terrain and moving along at a brisk pace. The official fuel rating is 8.1L/100km on the highway, so mission accomplished. By adding AWD to their arsenal, Jaguar now has a complete all-weather car to compete with the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8, yet it is less expensive than these cars. For those that crave a bit more jump in their Jag, the Supercharged V8 models are still available with outputs ranging from 470hp-550hp. The reality is that most buyers will be using this big car for daily commuting and taking the XJ out on a longer run like I did. For this kind of work, this latest Jaguar is more than qualified.
The Good, The Bad
Impressive fuel economy and a pleasure to drive.
The rear styling is not my bag and the entertainment screen could be bigger.
Power: 3.0L supercharged V6 with 340hp
Fill-up: 13.0L/8.1L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $89,000