Jaguar XJ saloon
Price: £56,865 - £95,870
- Beautiful design
- High quality cabin
- Sporty handling
- Slightly firm ride
- Poor rear headroom
- Expensive running costs
"The Jaguar XJ is beautiful, great to drive and has a luxurious cabin, making it one of the best luxury limos around."
The Jaguar XJ is a big luxury limo and a rival to cars like the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8. It's easily the most stylish car in the class and also has a very distinctive, beautiful and luxurious interior. But it's not just a pretty face – it offers power and sporty performance, too.
It may not quite match the BMW 7 Series for driver enjoyment, but it is more fun to drive than its rivals from Mercedes and Audi. The flip-side to that, however, is that it has quite a firm suspension setup that means it's not as comfortable as the S-Class. The engine range consists of two petrols and a diesel, all of which are powerful, smooth and quiet.
There are three specification levels to the XJ: Portfolio, Premium Luxury and V8 Supersport, as well as a newly-introduced performance-focused model called the XJR, and you can also choose between normal and long wheelbase version. Even entry-level models come loaded with equipment and accessories. The XJ may not be quite as good to drive as the 7 Series, nor as comfortable as the Mercedes S-Class, but it has more charm and personality than both of them.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Diesel engine offers decent economy but the petrol engines are thirsty
The XJ isn’t going to be cheap to run, but then again no luxury limo is, and the Jaguar XJ is not really designed for buyers who have fuel economy as a top priority. The V6 diesel engine is the most efficient in the range, and is capable of doing 46.3mpg and emitting 159g/km CO2. Those figures are pretty good and not far behind the best diesels in the class. The most efficient 7 Series will do 50.4mpg and emits 148g/km ofCO2 – so the XJ is pretty competitive. The 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine is far less efficient and will do 29.4mpg and 224g/km CO2. While the 5.0-litre V8 Supersport does just 24.4mpg and 270g/km CO2 – but that's the trade-off for its blistering performance.
Interior & comfort
XJ’s sporty handling leaves it with quite a firm ride
The XJ's interior is a stylish mix of wood, leather and technology. There are some great dramatic touches, like the back-lit digital dashboard and the round gear selector that rises from the centre console when the ignition is switched on. You can get TV screens for the rear seats, while the screen in the front can be had with a dual-view function that shows a movie to the front passenger without distracting the driver. It all feels very luxurious. The seats are comfortable, too, but the ride is a little firm to support the Jag's sporty handling. It's not bad or really uncomfortable, but the S-Class is better at absorbing bumps in the road. The XJ is really quiet, too, even at speed, because the interior is so well insulated. The only real issue inside the Jag's interior is the fact that the low roofline slightly eats into headroom in the rear.
Practicality & boot space
Boot space is very good and there are lots of practical touches
The XJ has a 520 litre boot, which puts it among the best in class. That's bigger than the boots on offer from both the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series, although it's a bit smaller than the one on the S-Class. The rear seats can’t be folded down to increase space, but at least the opening is wide which makes loading bulky items easy. Standard models have reasonable legroom in the back but if you opt for the long wheelbase version you get an enormous 44.1 inches of space. There are plenty of storage cubbyholes, too, most of which are big enough to hold water bottles.
Reliability & safety
Owners rave about the car in customer satisfaction surveys
Both Jaguar as a brand and the XJ receive stellar feedback from owners in satisfaction surveys. Jaguar came third out of 32 in the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer chart, ahead of Mercedes, Audi and BMW. The XJ came 15th in the top 100 cars league table, making it the most highly ranked car in the class. Those results suggest owners have had nothing but good experiences with the XJ – and it certainly looks and feels to be of higher quality. There have been no major issues reported and we would expect its reliability to be superb.
The XJ hasn’t been put through the Euro NCAP crash tests, so it doesn’t have star rating for safety, but it comes with a wide array of safety kit including eight airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, and a pop-up bonnet that protects pedestrians in the event of a collision.
Engines, drive & performance
The XJ is powerful, agile and a joy to drive
The XJ really is fantastic to drive. There are three engines in the range, but even the entry-level diesel boasts 275bhp and enough power to get the big Jag from 0-62mph in under six seconds. That should be plenty of power for most buyers, so we’d recommend the diesel unless you have deep enough pockets to cope with the thirstier petrol engines. The 3.0-litre petrol V6 is even more powerful, with 338bhp, while the range-topping 5.0-litre V8 engine in the Supersport model has a huge 507bhp and enough power to go from 0-62mph in under five seconds. The car is made from lightweight aluminium so it feels a lot more agile than its size would suggest. There is also plenty of grip, the steering is very responsive, and it corners flawlessly, so it's not just fun to drive – it's easy to drive, too.
Price, value for money & options
It’s expensive but high quality – so you get what you pay for
The XJ is a luxury car so it doesn’t come cheap, but it's competitively priced compared to rivals like the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Mercedes S Class. There are three engines, a range of specification levels and two wheelbases to choose from, so there's a very wide range of prices available – in fact, the cost of top spec models is almost double that of entry-level cars. But the XJ is stunningly beautiful, luxurious, high-quality, great to drive and packed with equipment and accessories. Even entry-level models come with leather upholstery, electrically adjustable front seats, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, twin glass sunroofs and a fantastic automatic gearbox as standard. You can also add a range of luxurious optional extras such as a massage function for the seats and eight-inch LCD screens with wireless headphones for rear passengers. Just be aware that resale values aren’t particularly strong – although that's common for this class of car.
What the others say
The cabin is stuffed full of hi-tech kit, such as an eight-inch touchscreen that lets passengers watch TV as the driver looks at the sat-nav. Behind the steering wheel, the traditional instrument panel is replaced by a digital display, while the 1,200W Bowers and Wilkins stereo offers crisp and punchy sound quality to rival any car on the market.
"It's a bit firm around town if we’re being brutal, but the precision the slight tautness produces down a back lane is worth it. The steering is accurate, the brakes assisted but honest. "
"Jaguar's new British-built XJ flagship saloon is a rejuvenated, worthy rival to Germany's Audi, BMW and Mercedes."
We’ve picked the XJ 5.0L V8 in £74,355 ‘Portfolio’ spec (‘well posh’ in other words) for our first drive of the new XJ on British roads, this model having come highly recommended as the pick of the bunch, dynamically speaking, by Jaguar's core development team. Their reasoning is that the normally aspirated 5-litre V8 is actually the lightest engine in the range, which results in the chassis balance being damn near perfect.
Last updated: 19 Feb 2014