What's the used Jaguar XJ saloon like?
After years of steady styling evolution based on its original 1960s design, the XJ catapulted like a rocket into the 21st Century with this all-new 2010 version. To some, it was a step too far, but most were agreed that at last the XJ seemed to have the modern bodyshell it needed to promote the very up-to-date technology that lay underneath its skin.
Despite such sleek and sporting lines, and such confident modernity, the XJ has had two minor facelifts, one in 2014 and another in 2015, in an effort to keep pace with its newer rivals, cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7 Series, and even the all-electric Tesla Model S.
The mainstay of the range has always been the V6-powered 3.0-litre diesel, which has taken the vast majority of sales. It’s now, as the XJ approaches the end of its life, the only engine on sale. Prior to this, you had more choice. The petrol range started with a supercharged 3.0-litre V6, which replaced an older 5.0-litre V8, and ended with the XJR, which was powered by a supercharged 5.0-litre V8.
Over the years there have been numerous trim levels too, in both short (SWB) and long-wheelbase (LWB) models, with Luxury, Premium Luxury and Portfolio to choose from, while R-Sport and the R trims are only available in the SWB and Autobiography in the LWB car. Even the entry-level Luxury models are well equipped. Heated, leather seats front and rear, parking sensors, four-zone climate control and a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav are all standard. Higher-spec versions simply pile on the equipment by varying degrees, with leather seats and trim, larger alloy wheels, park assist and different body kits all featuring at some point.
On the road, the 3.0 diesel V6 offers decent performance and a lot of overtaking power, thanks to masses of low-down torque. Acceleration is brisk rather than scintillating, although the XJ offers all the pace you’d need in everyday commuting and easily manages motorway journeys.
You’d expect a big Jag to ride well, too, and to a certain degree it does. You’d never call the ride uncomfortable, but you do feel the road’s surface much more than in its rivals, even in the adaptive suspension’s softest setting. The payback for this is truly sharp handling. The XJ is smaller and lighter than many of its rivals, and it feels remarkably agile, even in long-wheelbase guise. It changes direction effortlessly with little body roll, giving the impression of being a much smaller car. The steering is precise and very sharp, weights up naturally as you start to corner harder, and also offers comparatively good feedback for this class. You soon forget that this is a car that’s well over five metres long; you can have some genuine fun in the XJ. Indeed very few cars in this class manage to be both big and fun, but the XJ is just that.
The driving position’s great, too, with 14-way electrically adjustable seats, and visibility forwards and to the sides is good, even if it is a little limited to the rear, thanks to the car’s swooping profile. A rear-view camera is available in every XJ, luckily. It all looks very modern inside, too, and the XJ has a 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system as standard, complete with sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB radio. The system is not as polished or sophisticated as those fitted to some of its rivals, though, as some of the graphics look a little dated, especially on the 12.3in fully digital instrument panel. Some of the icons are too small to hit on the move, too, and the system can be slow to respond.
Quality-wise, although the entry-level models get plenty of leather, wood veneer and chrome trim, there’s far too much hard, rather cheap-looking plastic elsewhere. Look at the lower parts of the dash, or around the centre console, and you’ll find materials that you wouldn’t get in an Audi or BMW. The controls feel a little low-rent, too; the buttons never work in quite the same, well-oiled fashion as those on German rivals.
Space up front is excellent, but although there’s plenty of leg room in the rear actual head room is a little limited by the swoopy rear end. At 479 litres the XJ’s boot is smaller than most rivals’. It is a little on the shallow side, too, but at least it has a wide opening that makes loading bulky items simple enough.
Find a used Jaguar XJ in the What Car? Classifieds here
Page 1 of 5