Jaguar XJ (2003-2009) review
Refinement and comfort are strong, but the cabin and boot are tight.
Driving The XJ excels on the road, where the brand’s CATS adaptive damping ensures fine long-distance ability. Excellent ride comfort and refinement make for a relaxed cruiser and, while it’s less convincing on coarse surfaces, it’s still an engaging car to drive. The steering is precise – if over-light – and the chassis capable. The big saloon’s advanced aluminium construction also slashes weight, though even with this advantage, the smooth 2.7-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel doesn’t feel genuinely swift. It’s quiet, though, and rightly popular; there is also a 3.0-litre V6 petrol, which is punchier, plus regular and supercharged V8 units which give really impressive performance.
Marketplace The Big Cat has been in showrooms since 2003 – so, in 2007, Jaguar thought it time to give it a facelift. You can immediately spot the changes. The most obvious revision is at the front, where the deep bumper is more imposing, and features a large central air intake. The XJ has a much more aggressive look. There are also XK-inspired air vents in the front wings, and a tiny rear spoiler on the bootlid. Jaguar has added clarity to the trim line in recent years, offering a choice of Executive, Sovereign and Sport Premium models, with the high-performance XJR topping the range. Breathing down the XJ’s neck are the Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series, while the Bentley Flying Spur offers similarly traditional British elegance, though for a much higher price tag.
Owning The facelifted XJ was left almost unchanged inside. New front seats were the major news – they’re heated as standard, and come with the option of a cooling function. Apparently, Jaguar slimmed the backrests to improve rear space, but the cabin still feels cramped compared to rivals. It’s looking dated nowadays, too. The boot also remains shallow, though customers who do need extra rear legroom can always opt for the long-wheelbase version. The Jaguar’s showroom trump card, however, is value, courtesy of very competitive list prices and strong fuel economy. And while retained values seem uncompetitive, they’re still more than a match for rivals, with the XJ holding on to more of its list price after three years than pricier machinery from Audi and BMW.