Jaguar XJ (2009-2019) Review
The Jaguar XJ is one of the few luxury cars that feels nimble and sporty to drive
Strengths & weaknesses
- Attractive design
- Sporty and agile to drive
- Lack of engine choice
- Rear headroom tight for tall passengers
- Not as comfortable as a Mercedes S-Class
Captains of industry who fancy a spell behind the wheel could do worse than buy a Jaguar XJ. While rivals including the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 are good to drive, they’re really best enjoyed from the rear seats.
The Jaguar XJ is different. It’s not just good to drive, it’s great.
The outgoing model still looks the part. It’s dramatically styled and looks far more contemporary than previous versions. It’s made of aluminium, which makes it lighter than similarly sized rivals, resulting in improved performance and economy.
It comes with just one engine - a 3.0-litre diesel. While smooth, powerful, and reasonably efficient, it feels outdated now compared to rivals’ more modern diesels and petrol plug-in hybrids, some of which offer electric ranges of around 30 miles per charge.
It may be a large car but the XJ handles like one half its size. It corners with aplomb, body lean is held in check and the steering is direct and full of feel. It rides superbly, too, at least on the smaller wheels. Larger ones give a firmer, slightly bumpier ride.
Of course, it’s in their interiors where cars like the XJ are also judged. Fortunately, the Jag is not found wanting here, either. To go with its sporty handling is a sporty driving position. You sit low - although the front seats are height adjustable - and the dashboard seems to wrap around you.
Inside is a leather-clad space bristling with equipment. It’s a bright and airy place thanks to the standard-fit panoramic glass roof and, as its name suggests, even the entry-level Luxury trim wants for little. The digital dashboard is very high-tech and the screen uses Jaguar’s InControl Pro system that displays a moving sat-nav image with key instruments arranged to the side. Rival systems from BMW and Mercedes have more features, including advanced driverless functions, but it’s still impressive.
There’s plenty of space front and rear, although if you want more there’s always the long wheelbase version, which has a little more rear headroom, too. The XJ drops points with its boot which isn’t quite as large as rivals’. It’s shallow and awkwardly shaped, so you need to pack it carefully.
|Boot size||478 litres|
|Length||5,130mm (5,255mm for long wheelbase version)|
|Tax||£830 in the first year; £450 per annum in years two to six|
2009 Model launched with panoramic sunroof as standard. Engines are 3.0-litre V6 diesel, 5.0-litre V8 petrol and 5.0-litre supercharged V8.
2012 New supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine joins the range. Similar performance to V8 but more economical.
2012 Major mechanical changes boost economy and refinement.
2013 Supercharged 5.0-litre V8 XJR arrives.
2015 Updated XJ launched with LED headlights, entertainment system, improved 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, new long-wheelbase Autobiography version and R-Sport performance version with more powerful 5.0-litre V8 engine.
2017 More safety features, larger 10-inch touchscreen media system plus new high-performance XJR575.
2018 XJ575 dropped; engine line-up now just 3.0-litre V6 diesel.
Understanding Jaguar XJ names
There are five trim levels ranging from Luxury to top-spec Autobiography.
Engine 3.0 V6 diesel
The XJ is available with just one engine type: a 3.0-litre diesel with six cylinders arranged in a V formation.
Like other large executive cars, the XJ is offered in two body lengths, short-wheelbase (SWB, 5,130mm) and long-wheelbase (LWB, 5,255mm).
Jaguar XJ Engines
3.0 V6 diesel
Low demand for petrol-engined XJs persuaded Jaguar to drop all engines bar the 3.0 V6 diesel. Given the majority of luxury car buyers are limousine companies ferrying high flyers to meetings, it makes perfect sense. Performance and economy are both outstanding with the big XJ, in long as well as standard wheelbase forms capable of 40mpg and 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds.
Jaguar XJ Trims
Luxury, Premium Luxury, Portfolio, XJ-R Sport, XJ50 and Autobiography
As befits its market, the XJ has no less than six grand-sounding trim levels. If you're looking for the most luxurious Autobiography spec, it was only available on the long-wheelbase model. Likewise, for the XJ-R Sport you had to stick to the short-wheelbase version.
Looking at the standard equipment list for Luxury models, there's soft-close doors, heated front and rear seats, and four-zone climate control included.
Premium Luxury adds leather, heated and cooled seats and a high-quality Meridian sound system.
Portfolio builds on this with additional safety kit, LED headlights, and massage seats with 18-way adjustment. XJ50 is a special 50th anniversary edition based on Premium Luxury that brings 20-inch wheels and special detailing.
XJ-R Sport is unique to the standard wheelbase model and is an enhanced version of the Luxury model.
Autobiography, unique to the long wheelbase model, is based on Portfolio and adds rear reading lights and folding media screens, a surround camera system and illuminated treadplates.
Jaguar XJ Reliability and warranty
Jaguar’s record for reliability has improved beyond all measure in recent years. The XJ is made out of aluminium, and while this material resists corrosion exceptionally well (at least where it doesn't come into contact with steel), it does make body repairs that bit more complicated.
At three years with unlimited mileage, the XJ’s warranty is far from class-leading but for a car with the ability to cross continents with ease, the absence of a mileage restriction could be useful.
Used Jaguar XJ
Despite the fact that the XJ was around for around 10 years, it never sold in huge numbers, so don't expect to find a huge number for sale on the used market.
Sub-£20,000 models are usually five-year-old 3.0-litre V6 Premium Luxury cars with around 35,000 miles or less. This should be music to the ears of anyone hankering after a slice of luxury Jaguar motoring. Its original owner will be less delighted but that’s expensive cars for you, especially ones not wearing Mercedes’ coveted badge. Even a BMW 7 Series can't rival an S-Class for residual values.
Petrol models depreciate faster, but, there are fewer around too.