Jaguar XJ 5.0 Supersport road test report

5.0 Supersport

The fourth-generation Jaguar XJ has undergone a radical transformation. Whereas the previous iteration was a very tradition-looking luxury cruiser, much-loved by executives and retired gentlemen of a certain age, the latest model has become a much sportier coupe. And no version is sportier than the range-topping 5.0 Supersport. The sedate, conservative luxury XJ that used to waft its occupants around is a distant memory as soon as you take in its controversial looks, which by themselves would indicate that its departure is well and truly radical. But when you get behind the wheel and start driving, it’s even clearer that Jaguar has taken a bold step forward. Welcome to the XJ revolution.

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 Supersport’s supercharged V8 produces an enormous 510bhp at 6,000-6,500rpm and 461lb-ft of torque at 2,500-5,500rpm. That’s an immense amount of power and provides the genuinely thrilling driving experience that the figures suggest. In cruising mode, the engine is restrained, its gentle V8 hum just there in the background, providing a subconscious reminder of its potential. When you decide to utilise that potential, by squeezing the accelerator and giving the car its head, it all changes: the engine becomes a snarling, roaring beast, thrusting the car forward rapidly. A large factor is its quickness (0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, which is encroaching on Porsche 911 territory) is the fact that the aluminium body makes the car so light. As with all versions of the XJ, the Supersport comes with Jaguar’s six-speed automatic transmission, which is controlled using the unique rotary shifter that first appeared on the XF. Fitted with this engine, this XJ Supersport is very much a luxury sports saloon and arguably more of a competitor to the Maserati Quattroporte than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If money’s no object, this is the powerplant you want under the bonnet of your XJ.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

One of the first things you notice when you get into the new XJ, whether in the front or as a passenger in the back, 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 perhaps were expecting from a totally 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 into the cabin. However, that’s about the only aspect of the XJ’s driving dynamics 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 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 - 3 stars

The Supersport is a range-topping variant of a luxury car model, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it will set you back £87,455 (£90,455 for the long-wheelbase version). However, if you’re in an income bracket that allows you to afford it, it’s actually a pretty good bet. The Supersport is a serious rival to the similarly priced Maserati Quattroporte and can even be considered alongside the Bentley Continental GT and Flying Spur, which cost £35,000 more than the Jag. Running costs are, as you’d expect, very high, with the Supersport returning 23.4mpg and emitting 289g/km of CO2, making road tax £405 a year. It also falls into insurance group 50 under the new 50-group system (ie, right at the very top), so premiums will be pretty high. Jaguar claims that residuals for the XJ are better than equivalent rival cars from Mercedes, BMW and Audi, but the running costs of the Supersport will undoubtedly affect its demand, so don’t expect anything like the 40% return a diesel will command after three years and 60,000 miles.

Luxury Cars comparison road tests

Other people need your help

Your review will help others decide which vehicle to buy. By spending just a little bit of time filling out a consumer car review you can share your experiences with other drivers, giving information only owners will talk about, no marketing spiel, just the real thing. We publish all reviews, whether you rate the vehicle high or low. We are impartial. We are independent. We are committed to 100% real reviews. Please give others the benefit of your advice: give them your review.

Your review will be checked for offensive language within the next few days and then put on and all of our partners websites.

Have your say!