If your four-door is imported from Detroit, it is called a sedan. If it is imported from England, it is a saloon.
Which means that even though I was in a saloon, I wasn't drinking when I was driving the new all-wheel-drive versions of the Jaguar XF and XJ.
The AWD renditions of the midsize XF and large XJ, which I got to play with during a recent Jaguar show-and-tell, proved as delightful to drive on-road as their rear-drive siblings. And, of course, they had the added traction that makes all-wheelers so beloved on slippery roads. (Jaguar expects the all-wheel-drive model to account for 80 percent of XF sales in the snow-prone Northern states.)
I found the XF I drove on a loose-sand road to be quite sure-footed. Few people are going to take their new AWD XFs and XJs - which start at $53,000 and $76,700, respectively - out for a romp on the sandy thoroughfares of New Jersey's Pine Barrens. But they certainly could if they wanted to.
The XF and XJ AWD models are new for 2013. The XJ four-wheeler is already in showrooms. The XFs arrive in late January. While hardly an early arrival to the AWD party, Jaguar, by leaning on the considerable all-wheel-drive expertise of its corporate kinsman, Land Rover, has come up with a pretty nifty system.
The system has several settings, including "normal" and "winter." In normal, nearly all of the engine's power (95 percent) is routed to the rear wheels, so the car retains its traditional Jaguar rear-drive feel. Switch the setting to winter and the power apportionment, or torque split, becomes 30 percent front and 70 percent rear.
In either setting, the system is capable of routing all the power to the front or rear wheels if conditions dictate. But with the increased front split in the winter setting, its ability to anticipate and react to the slippery patches is enhanced.
Engineering a system like this was a considerable undertaking, since so much of the original rear-drive hardware had to be redesigned to accept the AWD components. The eight-speed ZF automatic transmission had to be modified to play host to the transfer case that routes the power to the front wheels. A new front subframe and cross member had to be designed, as well as new engine mounts, fuel lines, hoses, and air intakes. The front suspension was fitted with new springs, shock absorbers, and antiroll bars. New steering gear was employed to replicate the steering feel of the rear-drive cars. Small wonder the AWD feature tacks some $3,000 on the price tag.
In addition to being fitted with all these new components, the all-wheel-drivers are powered by a new-for-2013 engine. This V-6, the only engine available in the XF and XJ with AWD, is a sophisticated devil that squeezes 340 horsepower from a mere three liters. It does this with a little help from its friends, which include direct fuel injection, high compression, and a supercharger nestled neatly in the V cavity between the cylinder banks.
Andy Dobson, chief engineer for both cars, told me that while the XJ is larger than the 4,125-pound XF, it weighs about the same thanks to a more extensive use of aluminum. As a consequence, the cars' identical drivetrains afford virtually identical performance and mileage numbers. Zero to 60 is achieved in a follicle over six seconds, and both top out at 155 m.p.h. The EPAs come in at 16 city and 24 highway.
The two cars are fun to drive. And ever so lovely. Styling and interior ambience are Jag's other strong suits.