From £54,630
A good choice if you don't plan to cover lots of miles

Our Verdict

Jaguar XJ

The Jaguar XJ is a thoroughly modern luxury saloon, and a brilliantly capable one

What is it?

The middle-sitting version of Jaguar’s brand new flagship four-door, the XJ 5.0-litre V8. It’ll be the biggest-selling XJ in the range globally, and is expected to account for 60 per cent of all XJs built on Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich production line. In the UK, however, it’ll be outnumbered eight to one in the sales stakes by the 3.0-litre V6 diesel model.

It’s not difficult to see why Jaguar expects sales to pan out that way. A diesel XJ costs £7000 less than this petrol V8, like for like; it also offers more torque, is barely half a second slower to 60mph, will be significantly cheaper to tax, and will go roughly 15 miles further to the gallon.

So should you automatically discount this version of Britain’s brave new S-class fighter? Not if you’re smart.

See the Jaguar XJ 5.0 V8 Supersport pics

What’s it like?

Quiet. That isn’t to imply that other versions of this car are noisy – far from it – but it’s amazing how hushed Jaguar has been able to make this car without high-pressure common-rail diesel injection or a whining supercharger to deal with.

Thumb the ‘Engine Start’ button and there’s a distant whirr of a starter motor, followed by a pleasant and momentarily loud exhaust woofle. Shortly afterwards, the engine settles into an idle that’s barely audible through the car’s thickly insulated door seals or via the padded front bulkhead.

On the move, the relatively low compression ratio of that big 5.0-litre V8 means that, while you’re very faintly aware of engine movements in a V6 diesel XJ, you feel no engine vibrations at all in this car. Plenty of low-end torque provides generous, old-fashioned ‘waftability’ around town, and in standard ‘D’ mode the car’s automatic gearbox is perfectly optimised for relaxed, refined urban cruising.

Jaguar’s development engineers claim that, although it’s a regrettable loss, the ‘dialling out’ of the old XJ’s cosseting secondary ride was worthwhile, given what this car gains as part of the compromise. And in this tester’s opinion, they’re right.

It’s true that, in Portfolio specification and riding on 20in alloys, this car feels more directly connected to the road surface than passengers used to travelling in some limousines will expect. At low speeds the new XJ doesn’t glide over ridges and cobblestones quite as imperviously as the old one did.

The trade-off for those lucky enough to be sitting behind the wheel of this new XJ is that it doesn’t float and heave its way along a swiftly tackled country road like the old one might have, either. It’s got body control that’s perfectly judged for barrelling along at eight-tenths, quick, accurate and really communicative steering, an automatic gearbox that’s instantly responsive to the wheel-mounted paddles, and bountiful, tuneful performance.

Two facts in particular should whet your whistle when it comes to driving this car. The first is that, like all new XJs, it has the same steering rack as Jaguar’s excellent 503bhp XFR super-saloon. And the second? That this is the lightest new XJ you can buy. With its aluminium underbody, this car is actually 20kg lighter (in short-wheelbase form) than an identically engined XF. And it drives with every bit as much precision and sporting composure as the smaller saloon, as well as with even greater refinement.

Should I buy one?

If you don’t expect to do stellar mileages and you simply want the most hushed and limo-like XJ you can get, absolutely. This car also happens to be just as grippy, composed and rewarding to drive quickly as the XJ Supersport, albeit slightly less grunty.

If you’re buying an XJ privately and you plan on keeping it for a long time, this model makes great sense for an entirely different reason: longevity. That big, unstressed V8 is likely to wear use and mileage more comfortably than either the diesel or the supercharged V8 would, and that should save you money in the very long run.

This car also represents keen value for money relative to its immediate competitors. This Portfolio version is nearly £4k cheaper than a Mercedes S500L and £13k cheaper than Lexus’s best-priced LS, and although BMW’s 750Li comes in at a whisker over £70k, Jaguar’s long-wheelbase Premium Luxury spec undercuts even that car.

Join the debate

Comments
18

26 February 2010

If I bought that thing, I'd go out to it every morning and yell "Who wrapped my D-pillars in bin bags?". The tail-lights are awful, and the headlights too thin for that massive grille. There's no replacement for sheer area of lighting, no matter how intense the lights. Also a pity there's no proper manual version. Otherwise a magnificent car.

26 February 2010

It does sound like the pick of the range, and its the first one i have seen in black, and it looks much better for it, if for no other reason than it hides the blacked out rear pillars.

A short wheel base version with smaller wheels to restore a bit of the 'jag' ride quality, and no 'privacy' glass (that just looks tacky) would be good.

I still want to know why it costs £7,000 more to put a naturally aspirated V8 in there over a twin turbo V6 diesel. Just market positioning i guess, but still a poor show from Jaguar.

26 February 2010

[quote Rover P6 3500S]The tail-lights are awful...[/quote]

Yes, they are. Jaguar has been told this for a year, but they insisted on creating something whose rear would make Hyundai designers wince.

It's an absolutely hideous, poorly-executed design-exercise by Callum, who was clearly indulged by the less powerful but more talented members of the design team.

Having said that, what has always impressed me about the recent XJ range is how light the cars are, and therefore how well they handle in comparison to the technically lesser models like the XF and S-Type.

If Jaguar has made the XJ-R lighter than the XF-R (and if Jaguar wasn't an Indian company with part-Indian assembly, bailed out with English money wasted by this vicious, dogmatic and incompetent Government), then I'd be tempted to buy it after the body is repaired.

I know that Jaguar has been aware of the universal repulsion caused by the XJ's rear-end since the first press release, and it's only the embarrassment of an immediate redesign that's delaying it. The longer they do, the more sales they'll lose.

You're wrong to say the front's not acceptable (the XJ design being the obverse of the XF, whose front is ugly and rear is acceptable), and also, nothing has changed as regard to the XJ having a manual option. There hasn't been a manual XJ for over ten years. It would be idiotic if there were one now.

26 February 2010

It’s got body control that’s perfectly judged for barrelling along at eight-tenths ...

There must be a distortion in the space-time continuum .. I appreciate we are all driving enthusiasts on here, but seriously Matt, who is going to be driving regularly such a car in this manner? Even remotely like this? Is such a driver Jaguar's target market?

I think in the context of your typical Jaguar XJ buyer, it is indeed, a regrettable loss, the ‘dialling out’ of the old XJ’s cosseting secondary ride ... I also think it is more important to evaluate a car whether it successfully meets the needs of it's intended market/typical buyer, and not assume every driver of every car is a wannabe Lewis Hamilton that likes driving at eight-tenths, hanging the tail out.. we are talking about a big limo not a sports car here aren't we?

26 February 2010

I think it looks great in the dark colour .... can't see those stupid blacked out D pillars. A bit of a tenous justification of this model that will only sell in asia, the middle east and the US .... about how it would be the cheapest to run over 30 years and 12,000 miles. This version will sell less than 1000 per year in the UK.

26 February 2010

Yes, if there is a colour to buy it in, this is it. Looks much happier from the rear 3/4

DKW

26 February 2010

[quote ShvsIrns]

It's got body control that’s perfectly judged for barrelling along at eight-tenths ...

There must be a distortion in the space-time continuum .. I appreciate we are all driving enthusiasts on here, but seriously Matt, who is going to be driving regularly such a car in this manner? Even remotely like this? Is such a driver Jaguar's target market?

I think in the context of your typical Jaguar XJ buyer, it is indeed, a regrettable loss, the ‘dialling out’ of the old XJ’s cosseting secondary ride ... I also think it is more important to evaluate a car whether it successfully meets the needs of it's intended market/typical buyer, and not assume every driver of every car is a wannabe Lewis Hamilton that likes driving at eight-tenths, hanging the tail out.. we are talking about a big limo not a sports car here aren't we?

[/quote]

Absolutely. Frankly I'm sick of motoring journalists assessing cars based on a teen age driving style that isn't even representative of the average 19 year old male. Out of goodness knows how many drivers I know, I only know one who might go around driving at 8/10ths with any regularity. By all means mention what happens in the rare case of approaching the limit, so we know if we are going to get any nasty surprises in an emergency, but otherwise just tell us how the car is when driven as it will be driven, and where it will be driven. Most people drive where there are most cars - by definition - not on empty country roads. You can tell that not a lot of driving happens on these roads, because there are so few cars on them.

There is a fantasy element for many of us reading about cars most of us will never expect to buy, but I still want to know how my fantasy car really would be like to drive. Some of the editorial is as ridiculous as those car ads where cars always seem to drive in some alternative Earth where there are no other cars on the road. Get real guys - it's just starting to look silly.

26 February 2010

[quote DKW]Frankly I'm sick of motoring journalists assessing cars based on a teen age driving style that isn't even representative of the average 19 year old male.[/quote]

I think this is because if you'd testdrive the car in a sane fashion there wouldn't be ANY meaningful differences to talk about.

26 February 2010

[quote Amanitin]I think this is because if you'd testdrive the car in a sane fashion there wouldn't be ANY meaningful differences to talk about.
[/quote]

Are you serious? The context was not necessarily to do test drives in a "sane" fashion. What is a "sane" fashion btw?

As the previous poster kindly said, while it is important to know the dynamic behaviour of a car in extremis, lets keep it real and have some perspective for what the cars intended function and typical buyer is ... We dont see road tests report on the off road ability of an Enzo or Murcie .. why compare lap times of big 4wds around a racetrack?

26 February 2010

It would seem that Jag's USP (it's fabled secondary ride-comfort and serene waftability) has been sacrificed at the alter of sporty handling, or, as the tester here puts it: "It’s got body control that’s perfectly judged for barrelling along at eight-tenths." Whatever that means on a public road. Goodbye German-beating long distance ride comfort, hello sporty limo.

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