The most beautiful roads in Wales were the perfect environment to test drive the five-strong all-wheel drive range - XJ, XF, F‑TYPE, XE and F‑PACE
Wales is a driver’s paradise. Traffic is sparse in Snowdonia National Park, the scenery stunning and the roads rival the best in the world. Combine their challenging twists with unpredictable weather and you’ve got perfect terrain to put all-wheel drive (AWD) through its paces.
Every Jaguar now offers AWD as an option – the XE, XF, XJ, F‑PACE and F‑TYPE models covering everything from efficient 2.0 diesels to high-performance petrol sports cars.
The XJ limousine was first in Jaguar’s current line-up to offer AWD, and proves a soothing companion on the long trip from London to North Wales. At a cruise, you’re simply unaware of AWD working wonders, and that’s the idea. Jaguar engineers’ targeted the sports car purity of rear-wheel drive (RWD) with added AWD security. That’s why, in normal driving, the XJ is predominantly RWD. Only when roads tangle and twist, or when you accelerate more keenly from low-traction surfaces, does the system subtly channel power forwards. It means you trade wheel-slip under more extreme circumstances for serene progress, making a large luxury car like the XJ even more refined.
The XE is the compact premium saloon that introduced Jaguar’s advanced new Lightweight Aluminium Architecture and AWD is now available in both diesel and petrol models (depending on market region). Like the XJ’s system, AWD is fully variable, but the XE is 90% RWD in normal conditions, and uses Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD) to vary the torque between both axles constantly.
IDD was first developed to preserve the sporting characteristics of the AWD F‑TYPE, and seamlessly co-ordinates responses from the engine, gearbox, and traction and stability control. From standstill it can transition from RWD to AWD in just 165 milliseconds or in as little as 100 milliseconds when the car is moving. It doesn’t just react to slip either, anticipating it thanks to sensors measuring throttle and steering inputs.
When slip becomes inevitable, the system pre-emptively transfers more than 90% of engine torque from the rear wheels to the front wheels to provide optimum traction.
It’s a potent combination, bringing added composure to the XE’s renowned agility, without diluting driver enjoyment and deploying its power effortlessly.
The XF builds on the XE formula, with the same AWD system, a driving experience that can thrill and cosset in equal measure, and with added space and luxury. The efficient 2.0-litre diesel is an 180PS engine that’s punchy and pulls keenly from subterranean revs.
Again you’re barely aware of its AWD interventions - just sense that you can press the accelerator further and earlier in a bend. It’s not only safer in treacherous conditions, it gives you more confidence whatever the weather. Like the XE, the XF’s AWD remains 90% RWD in normal conditions. But there’s an exception to Jaguar’s IDD system that rivals simply can’t match: it detects when you’re about to lose traction when driving, and pre-emptively prepares to divert more traction forwards, which is helpful on fast switchback roads. It also cuts the 0-60mph time on most models, and makes accelerating onto a busy road safer because all four tyres share the load.
The latest addition to Jaguar’s range, the F‑PACE, represents new territory for the company. But it’s built around the same aluminium building blocks and AWD system as XE and XF models, and Jaguar’s essence shines through in both the striking design and the drive.
Despite having a commanding view of the road ahead, you sit relatively low in the cockpit, gripping a steering wheel that’s small and wieldy. The front tyres flick into corners with sports-car-like precision, the steering is highly responsive and beautifully weighted, and all the while the suspension balances handling finesse with supple comfort. Room in the back is great and the class-leading boot space huge, flexible and highly accessible from its large rear tailgate.
"AWD GRIP THE SURFACE WHETHER YOU’RE ACCELERATING FROM A STANDSTILL, OR SCYTHING OVER A DESERTED ROAD."
AWD is available on four- and six-cylinder engine variants of the F‑PACE and standard on our model. Once again, The RWD feeling remains, but accelerate through a long, sweeping bend and the power shifts seamlessly forwards, helping the F‑PACE swoosh through corners with consummate ease. It’s a fast, safe and incredibly satisfying way to travel across these challenging Welsh roads.
The F‑PACE offers off-road capability too, but it’s important to highlight that AWD is not a term that’s fully interchangeable with four-wheel drive (4WD). 4WD is typically reserved for very serious off-roaders, splits power evenly between all four wheels, and offers very low gear ratios that are driver-selectable.
AWD is refined and sophisticated, actively shuffling power from front-to-rear in milliseconds, its adaptability better suited to the higher speeds road cars tackle. The F‑PACE’s raised ground clearance, AWD and Adaptive Surface Response – which automatically tailors the powertrain to conditions – combine to give more than enough capability in most situations.
When you do go off-road, the tyres squish into the soft, marshy surface, then quickly find purchase. There are deep ruts and small fallen rocks from the crumbling hilltop above, but the F‑PACE takes it all in its stride, stoically negotiating terrain that would flummox most cars. Parked up at the top you feel like and intrepid explorer, looking out at an amazing road that stretches into the distance like a shoelace dropped over the topography. A road that looks made for Jaguar’s most sporting car: the F‑TYPE.
The F‑TYPE R Coupé V8 is a supercharged two-seater with 550PS. Even in RWD spec, this is seriously quick, but AWD lets the R Coupé scorch from 0-60mph in just 3.9 seconds. Despite this car’s staggering performance, you quickly find a rhythm. The driving position is low-slung and poised, and every response – the engine and gearbox, the steering, the carbon-ceramic brakes – is instant. And the noise from the R’s quad exhaust pipes is heaven, all silky purrs at low revs and thunderous crackles and pops under power.
It all creates a sense of connection between car and driver that’s only heightened as AWD claws into the surface, maximising grip whether you’re accelerating from a standstill, or scything over a deserted road. The AWD F‑TYPE R seems the ultimate way to experience these epic roads. Yet Jaguar has just gone one better to create the stunning new AWD F‑TYPE SVR, its fastest, most powerful version yet.
The F‑TYPE SVR is the fastest, most powerful series production Jaguar ever built, the ultimate expression of Jaguar’s AWD technology. Sitting low in its bespoke sports seats, you can’t help but notice the SVR’s interior difference with its Jet Black leather unique Lozenge Quilt pattern and contrast stitching, and the tactile suedecloth that wraps over the instrument binnacle and centre console. Press the start button and the 575PS V8 erupts through a titanium and Inconel exhaust; it’s an incredible 16kg lighter than a standard system and sounds like thunder in a bottle. Before you even pull away, the SVR raises your heart rate.
It’s all the work of Special Vehicle Operations, Jaguar Land Rover’s in-house division tasked with taking the best one step further. Using the F‑TYPE R as its starting point, SVO has made the F‑TYPE SVR faster, lighter, more engaging to drive and even more visually dramatic. The result is an all-weather supercar that swivels heads at a standstill, accelerates from 0-60mph in just 3.5 seconds and runs all the way to 200mph for the coupé (195mph for the convertible).
Distinctive design touches include a new front bumper with enlarged air inlets, eye-catching bonnet vents, a revised carbon fibre rear spoiler and unique designs for the 20-inch forged alloy wheels. Nothing is superfluous: the larger air inlets enhance cooling; the deployable spoiler combines with a racecar-style flat underfloor and rear venting to boost aerodynamic performance. The new alloy wheels are 13.8kg lighter and wrapped in bespoke tyres some 10mm wider than the F‑TYPE R, boosting grip and response.
Under the skin, the supercharged V8 engine gains 25PS, the continuously variable suspension is firmer to heighten control, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox is more incisive still. Crucially, the AWD’s system’s Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD) software has been re-engineered to deliver an even more dynamic experience.
Pull the Quickshift transmission selector to Drive, set off down the road and you notice how the SVR’s suspension now marries supple F‑TYPE compliance with greater control; the feel through the SVR steering wheel is noticeably firmer, providing extra connection to the road surface.
Pick up the pace, point the SVR through some corners, and you sense the extra definition from the wider tyres; the sports car seems glued to its line and confidence quickly builds. Accelerate and the SVR hunkers down, its tyres delivering the huge hit of performance to the road, the push in your back recalling rear-wheel drive, the rapidly gathering speed betraying AWD magic. As you come out of corners, you can feel the V8’s extra urgency; a pull on the bespoke aluminium paddleshift fires home instantaneous upshifts, and should elicit a wide grin from the driver as the V8 crackles and fizzes its harder-edged soundtrack.
The F‑TYPE SVR has key exterior identifiers like the revised carbon fibre rear spoiler, special 20-inch forged alloys and that all-important SVR badge. SVR is the most focused F‑TYPE yet, but that focus doesn’t come at the expense of usability. Exhaust valves reduce volume at a cruise, the 14-way electric seats pamper and cosset, and the InControl touchscreen infotainment system is compatible with wearable technology like the Apple Watch. And whatever the conditions, however you drive, AWD is always watching your back.
Official fuel consumption figures for the Jaguar AWD Range in l/100km (mpg): Urban 16.2 (17.4) – 5.5 (51.4), Extra urban 8.5 (33.2) – 4.5 (67.8), Combined 11.3 (25.0) – 4.7 (60.6). CO2 emissions g/km: 269 – 123.
The AWD and SVR photoshoot was undertaken in a carefully controlled environment with experienced drivers. Do not attempt. Always obey local speed limits.
The availability of AWD, and whether standard or optional, is market dependent. Please consult your local Jaguar retailer for details.