Since its founding in 1922, Jaguar has created a distinctive driving experience. The legendary British brand lost some traction during the first years after it left the UK, but with Jaguar Land Rover’s acquisition in 2008 by Tata—the company that owns the Taj Hotels brand—Jaguar is definitely looking to the future. At the Paris Motor Show last year, the company showed its new F-Type convertible sports car concept, a twoseater that will compete with Porsche and the Mercedes-Benz SLK series. And for drivers in New England, where the roads stay slick and snowy well into spring, Jaguar launches the XJ AWD Sedan.
The Jaguar XJ is a stunning car but has lacked all-wheel-drive technology, which is featured on more than 50 percent of vehicles sold in the Northern US. The XJ AWD borrows from the technology used in engineering the Range Rover, including its drivetrain and suspension systems, as well as sensors placed in the wheel wells and tires to detect when the car is slipping in slick conditions. This vehicle also features the new, supercharged V6, which provides performance similar to that of the V8, with improved fuel efficiency.
When I hit the start button, the engine fired up with authority, and I steered toward Sunday River in Maine. Under normal conditions, 95 percent of the vehicle’s power is sent rearward through a constantly variable system, and the car felt like a rear-drive sedan while pulling onto I-95 North. I set the adaptive cruise control, which uses radar to measure the distance to the vehicle in front, and maintained a steady speed with minimal input. Just past Portland it started to snow, so I selected Winter Mode, which directs more power to the front wheels, by a percentage that varies with the conditions. Approaching the Mountain Road, a vehicle ahead of me skidded off the road due to the slick conditions. The Jaguar handled like a champion and gave this driver a very confident feel of safety and control—just what the brand needs to compete with the top luxury sedans in the worst driving conditions. Overall, the XJ AWD is a winner on our white-knuckle roads, while offering the distinctive look and feel one expects from Jaguar. Base price: $76,700. Jaguar Land Rover Norwood, 449 Neponset St., Norwood, 781-619-9000.