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Jaguar XJ 3.0 Diesel road test report

3.0 Diesel

The flagship Jaguar XJ has been a much-loved model since it first hit the roads in 1968. However, this large executive saloon has desperately needed a complete overhaul for some time: the last iteration, the Mk 3, first appeared in 2003, but on the surface it was very similar to the XJ40 model first launched as far back as 1986. Jaguar’s radical fourth-generation model has raised a few eyebrows with its controversial coupe design and new sporty personality. But there is one constant: the vast majority (85%) of sales will go to the model fitted with the most efficient engine, 3.0-litre diesel.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Jaguar XJ

Image number 2 of the Jaguar XJImage number 3 of the Jaguar XJImage number 4 of the Jaguar XJ

Performance Performance - 5 stars

The XJ’s only diesel option, 3.0-litre V6, provides an ideal blend of refined power with decent fuel consumption and acceptable CO2 emissions. Producing 271bhp at 4,000rpm and 442lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm, there’s plenty of grunt, especially as the XJ’s aluminium body makes the car so light. Twin sequential turbos help to provide lots of power from low down in the rev range, with bucketloads of torque maintaining the shove when called up for overtaking or high-speed cruising. It’s also an incredibly refined engine: the sound it makes is so far away from the traditional notion of clattery diesels that you really have to consciously remember that there’s an oilburner up front powering the car, even when you open the throttle. The engine is mated to Jaguar’s six-speed automatic transmission, which is controlled using the unique rotary gear selector. Changes are smooth and efficient, but you can also opt to use the paddleshifts and swap cogs yourself, the gearbox reacting instantly.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

What’s instantly noticeable about the new XJ when you start driving around in it, is that the traditional wafty ride quality is a thing of the past, which has been sacrificed at the altar of sportiness. Of course the ride is still very good, but it’s not the class-leader we would perhaps have expected from a new XJ. It no longer floats over bumps and scarred tarmac: instead, there’s a slightly unsettled quality that communicates the state of the road surface into the cabin. However, that’s pretty much the only aspect of the XJ’s on-road capabilities that we can really find fault with. The steering is light and accurate, allowing the driver to place the car on the road precisely and hold a line on the road without having to make too many adjustments: there’s not a huge amount of feedback, but it doesn’t affect the driving experience too adversely. There’s also an adaptive dynamics system that changes the suspension settings, throttle response, steering and gear changes depending on the mode selected (normal, dynamic or winter). Whatever the chosen setting, the XJ remains composed at all times, with body roll well contained in the bends and lots of grip.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

Jaguar has quietly been building itself a strong reputation as a manufacturer of reliable machines, banishing all the old prejudices about cars built in Britain. In act, the most recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey place the company in equal sixth place alongside BMW-owned Mini and just below Toyota, which, prior to its troubles at the start of 2010, has for many years been seen as a byword for well-made cars. And although the XF is still too new to show up in such surveys, the X-Type is placed in the Top 20 most reliable cars (in joint 17th place with the BMW 5 Series). This augurs well for the XJ. As with the last generation, the new XJ has an aluminium chassis, making it strong but light. The build quality is sound, which is only to be expected from a flagship car from a premium manufacturer, and the interior is the usual level of plushness, with excellent materials (especially on the top-of-the-range Supersports version).

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

The Jaguar XJ has not undergone the Euro NCAP programme, as it (in common with its closest rivals in the class such as the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8) doesn’t sell in great enough volume to justify undergoing the crash-test regime. However, there’s a full complement of active and passive safety features, so occupants should be well protected in the event of a collision. Equipment includes front and side airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger, with curtain airbags also fitted; a whiplash protection system for the front seats; seatbelt pre-tensioners; an automatic deployable bonnet in the event of a collision with a pedestrian; plus the usual litany of electronic aids such as ABS and DSC (dynamic stability control). For security, there’s keyless start plus a system that includes a perimeter alarm, ultrasonic intrusion sensing and inclination sensing with double locking and steering lock, all of which should make the XJ very difficult to steal.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 5 stars

There are two versions of the XJ, a standard wheelbase and a long wheelbase version that will make up around 30% of sales. There’s plenty of room in both versions, with legroom in the back of the LWB especially generous. The seats are very comfortable and the driving position is superbly cosseting, with every form of adjustment available. There’s also an enormous 520-litre boot that will swallow up all the luggage and/or sets of golf clubs a captain of industry will need to carry around. The XJ is also jam-packed with all the latest electronic gadgetry, including a multimedia unit that contains satellite navigation, CD/DVD player, radio (including DAB), Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and USB ports, digital and analogue TV, plus a hard-disc drive system that can store music loaded from CDs. In addition is an innovative dual-view touchscreen display that allows the driver and front-seat passenger to view different content on the same screen – for example, the driver can be looking at the satellite navigation while the passenger watches TV or a DVD.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 5 stars

The diesel versions of the XJ are the cheapest to buy and run, with prices starting at £53,775 for the 3.0 Diesel Luxury trim, rising to £64,275 for the most expensive Portfolio version. The 3.0 Diesel version also has the best running costs, with fuel consumption of 40.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 184g/km, meaning road tax of £175 a year. For a car this big, those are very decent figures, matching the class-leading BMW 7 Series. All models fall in insurance groups 48 to 49 under the new 50-group system, so premiums should be pretty hefty. Jaguar claims that residuals are better than equivalent rival cars from Mercedes, BMW and Audi, with the 3.0 Diesel retaining 40% of its value after three years and 60,000 miles.

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