Used car of the week: Jaguar XJ

The Jaguar XJ is a true motoring icon, and while it might look traditional, it hides a hi-tech body underneath. If you're after a comfortable executive cruiser, then it deserves your attention

Words By Darren Moss

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Jaguar XJ

The Jaguar XJ is a luxury executive car, and a rival for the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class.

Its air suspension means the XJ offers supremely comfortable ride and engaging handling, and while its rivals offer more space and arguably more luxurious interiors, the XJ is still a well sought-after car, especially among Jaguar fans.

What budget do I need?

Like most large executive models, the Jaguar XJ suffers from heavy depreciation - bad news if you're selling, but great if you're a buyer. As little as Β£2000 will get you on the ownership ladder with an early XJ6 with plenty of mileage. Low-mileage examples can be had for around Β£3000.

If you do enough annual mileage to consider a diesel, then be aware that you'll be paying upwards of Β£4000 for even a poor example - or around Β£6000 for a decent model - because diesels are more popular among buyers. The hot XJR version costs even more, and will be priced from around Β£8000. A low-mileage XJ6 3.0 SE - our preferred model - will cost you about the same.

As with any large executive car, servicing is going to be more expensive than it would be for a small hatchback - although you can save money by taking the car to an independent Jaguar specialist rather than the main dealer. Don't expect to save money at the pumps, either, because even diesel models struggle to return more than 35mpg.

What version should I go for?

There's a significant premium on diesel models, so it's worth seeing if you actually do enough miles to warrant one - any less than 8000 per year and you're better of sticking with the V6 petrol, which is the engine we recommend in any case. It might be thirstier, but it will cost less to buy in the first place.

If you're tempted by the V8 petrol engine of XJR models, then be aware that these are very thirsty and you'll spend a lot of time at the petrol pumps.

For our money, we'd go for an XJ6 with a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine in SE trim.

Any problems to be aware of?

There have been nine recalls for this generation of XJ. The most serious of these affected cars built before 2003 and was to recity a fault which could cause the gearbox to go into reverse at high speeds. Models built between April 2005 and March 2007 were also recalled for a recalibation of the engine management software to stop the diesel particulate filter overheating. In both cases, make sure your car has had the relevant work carried out.

On your test drive, listen our for clonks coming from the suspension, which could indicate worn bushes, and keep an eye out for smoke coming from the rear of the car. White or blue smoke could be a sign of a serious engine problem. Every XJ has plenty of electronics, so make sure it all works as expected before parting with any cash - this is particularly the case with integrated sat-nav systems.

Common issues affecting the XJ include problematic air suspension, corrosion on the car's aluminium body, and clogged diesel particulate filters. DPFs need motorway runs every few weeks to avoid becoming clogged - if they do, it's potentially a very expensive fix.

Despite these known issues, the XJ has a fairly dependable record for reliability, and suffers from fewer expensive faults than its rival Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

What next?

Read our full Jaguar XJ review, or click here to read our new Jaguar XJ review.

Want to buy a used Jaguar XJ? Click here to see the used cars for sale with What Car? Classifieds.

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