In-depth reviews

Jaguar XJ (2003-2009) review

Refinement and comfort are strong, but the cabin and boot are tight.

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.0 out of 5

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.   

Engines, performance and drive


MPG, CO2 and Running Costs


Interior, design and technology


Practicality, comfort and boot space


Reliability and Safety


Most Popular

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021
What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven
Skoda vRS range

What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven

To mark 20 years of Skoda’s vRS badge, we rounded up some of the performance cars from the past two decades that have worn the subtle green badge
17 Sep 2021