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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The XJ has a strong heritage, and it's a good-value alternative to its German rivals

Against The switchgear is old-fashioned, as are the car's looks. Running costs are high, too

Verdict It's refined and comfortable, but possibly a little 'old hat' for some people

Go for… Late examples

Avoid… Pre-2000 cars

Jaguar XJ Saloon
  • 1. Go for an upgraded model, with touch-screen satellite-navigation, cruise control and electric front seats
  • 2. The 1998 XJ V8s had problems with throttles not opening properly, and some 1999 cars had transmission glitches
  • 3. Front suspension bushes need replacing every 25,000 miles
  • 4. Make sure - or get someone else to make sure - that the throttle is not fouling the bonnet liner
  • 5. Older cars feel cramped, but a longer-wheelbase car introduced in 2000 gave rear-seat passengers an extra four inches of legroom
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Jaguar XJ Saloon full review with expert trade views

A well equipped cabin complements the XJ's all-aluminium body to deliver a beautiful luxury car. It has proved a reliable charger, but the switchgear feels low-rent when compared with German luxury cars'.

The air suspension gives perfect poise, combining a comfortable ride with good handling. And, inside, the XJ's all wood, leather and chrome. It’s like a belligerent old headmaster - stuck in its ways, but still commanding respect. Upgraded models have touch-screen satellite-navigation, cruise control and electric memory front seats.

Don't worry that you'll be short-changed by chosing the cheapest model. Even the entry level model gives owners enough power to feel satisfied. The older examples feel cramped, though, but thankfully Jaguar addressed this with the introduction of a longer-wheelbase car in 2000, giving rear-seat passengers an extra four inches of legroom.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Selling mainly on price, customers like value, 3.2 Executive has appeal

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Earlier models are cramped in the rear and lack generous boot space, so give them a miss.

The smallest V8 engine in the XJ range is the 3.2-litre unit. It produces 240bhp, will propel you from 0-60mph in 7.8sec and take you to a top speed of 145mph. Which, to be honest, is plenty for most people.

That said, however, it is overshadowed by the 4.0-litre model, which takes you from 0-60mph in just 6sec. It's impressively quick in a straight line, and handles well enough to give its rivals a run for their money.

It’s probably best to steer clear of the awesome XJR. This flagship high-performance version has a top speed of 155mph and manages 0-60mph in 5sec, but it’s not exactly nimble, and as a result the brakes take a hammering.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability with big bills - watch for suspension and electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

How much have you got? If you want a bit of luxury, but don’t have the resources to sustain such an indulgence, you should maybe consider buying a smaller executive car like the S-Type instead.

It’s not buying an XJ that's the problem, though - poor residuals have put the XJ firmly in the ‘affordable’ bracket - but you need to make a long-term financial commitment to run one.

Insurance costs are punitive: the 3.2-litre is in group 16 and the 4.0-litre is in groups 17-19. Frugality? The stats tell you you may get 24mpg, but that’s with a whole lot of downhill roads with the wind behind you. Don't expect to get much more than 20mpg, and don’t be surprised if it's just 17mpg.

This car isn’t cheap to fix, either: Jaguar is among the costliest of all manufacturers for servicing. However, you'll be unlucky if an XJ goes wrong – Jaguar is among the top performers in the Warranty Direct reliability survey.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Selling mainly on price, customers like value, 3.2 Executive has appeal

James Ruppert
Used car guru

It's vital to buy a car with a service history, as there have been a number of recalls. 1998 XJs had problems with throttles not opening properly, and some 1999 cars had transmission glitches that caused them to lock up.

You should also check - or get someone else to check - that the throttle is not fouling the underbonnet liner and that the power steering pipe is not chafing the alternator terminals. Be aware that the front suspension bushes need replacing every 25,000 miles and, on an XJR, make sure the brakes are in good order.

Despite all that - and, you'd be forgiven for having second thoughts about the big Jag - XJs have actually proved generally pretty sound an reliable. In a recent JD Power survey, Jaguar was the top British marque, and it fared well in the Warranty Direct reliability league

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability with big bills - watch for suspension and electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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