What's the used Jaguar XJ saloon like?
The Jaguar XJ is one of Britain’s best-loved luxury cars. Through the generations, it has carried Prime Ministers to and from Downing Street, sped company executives from meeting to meeting and, of course, delivered countless brides to their weddings.
The 2003 model, which was in production until 2009 and codenamed 'X350', was the last to feature the XJ’s hallmark olde-worlde styling. But in fact, this was a car which broke with tradition; the first XJ to be clothed in lightweight aluminium bodywork, not to mention the first to be offered with a diesel engine.
This proved popular thanks to its superior fuel economy, even if traditionalists preferred the petrol-powered models. The driver’s choice was the supercharged XJR, but even the entry-level XJ6 provided enough pace to make progress effortless. And of course, the Daimler versions, available until 2007, offered enough leather and polished wood to furnish a five-star hotel, even though every XJ had its fair share.
Switchable air suspension, which came as standard on every model, meant the XJ offered a splendid blend of comfortable ride and involving handling. And while the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series are both finished to a higher standard and more spacious, there's something about the XJ that still tugs at the heartstrings. http://www.whatcar.com/classifieds/used-cars/Jaguar/XJ)**
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Jaguar XJ saloon?
The Jaguar XJ is heavy on its suspension, so listen out for clonks that may come from worn suspension bushes around the car, especially if you turn into a corner quickly.
Keep an eye out for smoke from the back of the car. A little black smoke under heavy acceleration on diesel versions is par for the course, but white or blue smoke on any model will be a sign of a more serious issue.
Every XJ has lots of electronic trickery on board, so check it all works. Run through all the functions of the on-board entertainment system, and if satellite navigation is fitted, check it still picks up a GPS signal.
To date, there have been nine recalls on this shape of XJ. The most serious of these included a reprogamming of the gear selector module to fix a fault which caused the car to go into reverse at high speed, affecting cars built before June 2003, and a recalibration of the engine management software to prevent overheating the particulate filter overheating and possibly catching fire, affecting diesel models built between April 2005 and March 2007. Before buying, it's worth checking that any recalls your car may need have been carried out using the DVSA website.
What are the most common problems with a used Jaguar XJ saloon?
The Jaguar XJ's air suspension has been known to give problems. Compressors have a relatively short service life and cost around £300 to replace; shock absorbers also give way, though less regularly.
XJs are renowned for suffering from corrosion, which is quite a feat given that they’re made from aluminium. The problem is thought to be the steel rivets which bind the aluminium body together; the interaction of the two metals creates corrosion in the aluminium panel, which is already affecting some cars and can cause problems further down the line.
Diesel versions feature particulate filters that need to be cleaned out. Fortunately, they do this themselves, but need a run at motorway speeds every couple of weeks in order to be able to do this. So, if your driving is mainly around town, you'll probably be better off with a petrol model.
Is a used Jaguar XJ saloon reliable?
Those complex electronics can create foibles, but mechanically the XJ should be reasonably dependable. Jaguar’s cars are historically reliable, and according to the What Car? Reliability Index, the XJ suffers fewer expensive faults than the Mercedes S-Class. That said, the BMW 7 Series looks to fare a touch better.
What used Jaguar XJ saloon will I get for my budget?
Heavy depreciation is a used car buyer’s friend, and the Jaguar XJ is a particularly personable beast in this regard.
Prices start at below £2000 for an early petrol-powered XJ6 with lots of miles on it; expect to pay upwards of £3000 for one in good condition with low mileage and the essential full service history.
Diesel versions are more desirable for their lower fuel economy, and thus cost quite a bit more. Expect to pay at least £4000, even for a poor example, while £6000 should secure you one you’d want to own.
If you want the hot XJR version, you’ll probably need to pay around £8,000 to get hold of a good, low-mileage car with full history.
How much does it cost to run a Jaguar XJ saloon?
Servicing won’t be cheap, especially if you go to a Jaguar franchise, but the good news is that there’s an army of knowledgeable Jaguar specialists out there. Choose one of these and you should be able to keep costs down.
The XJ is one of the thirstiest luxury cars around, with the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class all looking notably more economical. Even the diesel struggles to get more than 35mpg in everyday driving, while if you plump for an XJR, don’t expect to see more than 23mpg on average.
Which used Jaguar XJ saloon should I buy?
With diesel versions of the XJ costing more than most petrols, it's worth doing the sums to work out whether you’ll really save any money by choosing one, especially when you factor in the extra repair costs that may come with the diesel’s added complexity.
Unless you do more than 8000 miles a year, then, you’ll probably be better off saving the cash, and plumping for the V6 petrol. True, it’s thirstier, but it’s also considerably cheaper, meaning if you do fewer miles it’ll take you many years to recoup the extra a diesel would cost.
Petrol models give you the added benefit of a smoother engine with a nicer engine note that adds to the XJ’s wafty character. V8 versions give you even more power, but beware: they use a vast amount of fuel.
Our favourite Jaguar XJ: XJ6 3.0 SE
What alternatives should I consider to a used Jaguar XJ saloon?
The chief rivals to the Jaguar XJ come from Germany. The Mercedes S-Class is the most accomplished car of this type, with one of the most comfortable rides around and far more space than the XJ. it isn’t as sharp to drive though, and because it holds its value very well, you won’t be able to buy as nice an example for your money.
The BMW 7 Series is a little more affordable than the S-Class and similarly spacious, plus it has a more modern, higher-quality interior than the XJ. That said, the 7 Series isn’t as comfortable, and while it is sharp to drive, the XJ is a little more involving.
The Audi A8 and Volkswagen Phaeton are the other German alternatives; both are about as affordable as the XJ these days and endowed with beautifully-built interiors, though the A8 suffers from a firmer ride and the Phaeton is both thirsty and rather anonymous.
Alternatively, if you feel like something left-field, you could look at the Lexus LS. With no diesel option, you’re stuck with a 4.3-litre petrol engine, but live with its thirst and you’ll have one of the quietest cars around, and one filled with gadgets, to boot.
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