Jaguar's star is rising – and it's rising fast. Sales across the world are booming, especially in growth markets like China where sales are up a staggering 84 per cent this year. With this global growth comes demand for market-specific models, like the all-wheel drive XJ. AOL Cars travelled to Canada to drive it.
What is it?
An all-wheel drive version of Jaguar's luxury limo, the XJ. Using a part mechanical, part electric set-up Jaguar's engineers have created a clever four-wheel drive system for markets where cold weather is the norm, like the car's launch location, Canada. The system allows 100 per cent of the power to go to the front or rear wheels, depending on where the grip is needed. The good news is no driving characteristics are lost during normal conditions as just five per cent of the power is sent to the front wheels.
What's under the bonnet?
The highlight is the new 3.0-litre supercharged petrol V6. Producing 335bhp and 450Nm of torque it hits 60mph in 6.1 seconds, achieves a top speed of 155mph and returns 28.8mpg. It's a corker of a unit and mated to the eight-seed automatic it's incredibly smooth.
What's the kit like?
As you'd expect, it's plentiful. Leather upholstery, a frankly sensational Meridian sound system, Bluetooth, cruise control – in fact pretty much everything you'd want and more comes as standard.
The biggest rivals come with four-ringed badges on the bonnet. Audi has always made a big deal about its Quattro models, as the firm's four-wheel drive system is one of their biggest selling points. With that in mind the Audi S8 would be the Jag's biggest rival.
Is it any good?
It's brilliant. Jaguar took us to Canada to test the system in the snow and I've never felt as safe on the slippery stuff as I did in these AWD XJs. However, it's worth noting these AWD Jaguars aren't due to come to the UK. Sales of four wheel drive saloons are small, says the manufacturer, and it doesn't warrant the development costs, but a spokesman did tell AOL Cars it hasn't been ruled out completely.
It's a shame these AWD models aren't coming to the UK as they are very accomplished and with the weather we've been having recently, they'd make wise buys. However, it's nice to see a success story for British car manufacturing elsewhere around the globe and there's a slim chance one day we'll see the technology on British models. We've got our fingers crossed.
Model: Jaguar XJ AWD
Price: £68,000 (est)
Engine: 3.0-litre, petrol supercharged
Power: 335bhp, 450Nm
Max speed: 155mph
MPG (comb'd): 28.8