Is the Jaguar XJ your favourite automotive icon? Read what we think and cast your vote


The Jaguar XJ is in the running to be this year’s Autocar Awards Readers’ Champion. Each day a different member of the Autocar team will champion one of the 17 cars, but only one can be the Icon of Icons and it’s up to you to decide - vote here.

Until the current model, the Jaguar XJ was readily identifiable by the 98% of motorists who had never owned one by the very distinctive rear-end graphic. The slim tail panel was bookended, originally, by those distinctive sort-of-triangular rear lamps. 

There was a good reason for that look. One of the original styling models for the first XJ had a long tapering tail like a Jaguar E-Type. Indeed, imagine a four-door E-Type saloon. Long and low, with shallow sides. 

In the event, the styling was finalised by simply cutting through the tail’s taper, resulting in that highly effective cross-section we saw on the first production car. 

Our Verdict

Jaguar XJ

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

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But those E-Type-inspired roots are also what made the XJ so very different and so timeless. Yes, the engineering key to the car was the exceptional refinement and ride, but it also managed to cross a new level of limousine isolation with a real sporting vibe. The low seat, the open glasshouse and the minimal dashboard made the XJ a truly unique experience. 

My first experience with the XJ family was back in 1993. I drove a just-exiting XJ40 long-termer for a final shoot down by Battersea Power Station. One of the guys on the dustbin lorry came over and said: “I’ve got one of those – did the bootlid rust through?” Indeed it had (and it was a reminder that second-hand XJs have long enabled working people to own a really good car). 

Weeks later, the new X300s arrived. Styled to look more like the classic XJ, it was a revelation. Built with much greater precision under Ford, the supercharged version with its mean black dash was a monumentally uplifting vehicle. Its rapidity was emphasised by the enclosed cockpit and sense of closeness to the road. 

On the other hand, in the same year I took part in a feature that had me sitting in the rear of four luxury executive cars while being shuttled across the UK. Certainly, the S-Class was huge and comfortable, the Lexus was spacious but unsettled and, by comparison, the XJ was confined. But the old-school interior of chrome and wood had – especially at night – by far the best atmosphere. It’s not all about competing on leg room. 

It’s that duality of the XJ that’s so compelling, but it’s the car – in all its versions – that had a remarkable ability to imprint itself on my mind. Despite driving hundreds of cars over the years, what stands out is the midsummer long-distance weekend in a Daimler Double Six and six months’ ‘ownership’ of the X350. I really enjoyed that latter car. 

As did I the X358, the final XJ and, very sadly, a car now selling in tiny numbers. As different as it is, this XJ remains a joy to drive. Leggy, refined and relaxed but also capable of lighting up on a quick road. 

I have to admit I used to drive around London at night in the X358, listening to jazz. The vibe that car had on empty night-time city streets is still unquestionably one of my peak motoring experiences. 

Click here to vote for the Jaguar XJ to be named the 'icon of icons'

Read more

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2019 Jaguar XJ to be reborn as high-tech electric flagship​

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1 March 2019
The current XJ is an X351 and not an X358 as stated in the article.
Pedant hat now removed.

1 March 2019

Despite being around since 1968 there have only ever been 4 all-new XJs which is quite remarkable. The Mk1 which consisted of the Series 1, 2 and 3, the Mk2 (XJ40, X300 and X308), the Mk 3 (X350 and X358) and the current, Mk4 model, the X351. Back in the day, the pace of change at Jaguar wasn't a quick one!

1 March 2019

The X351 is essentially a very heavy facelift of the X350/358. It's the same platform, but with a new 'top hat'.

1 March 2019

of course, even more than E Type and XJ. It's Britian's equivalent of the Citroen DS.

1 March 2019

I have the feeling that the X358 facelift was made deliberately ugly (likewise the X-type facelift) - I am referring to the below-the-grille treatment - in order to pave the way for the very different-looking X351

1 March 2019

Love the XJ, especially mine, a midly tuned Sovereign V12, my lasting memory is driving back from Le Mans Classic and holding my own in a convoy of GT40's, 911's, Testarossas and the odd fast merc, beemer and Audi,  I could only stay with them for a while as I depleted both tanks in 22 mins... approx 40 odd miles, but then they all followed me to refill and admire the old girl.


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