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Jaguar XJ Mk4 2010 road test report

Mk4 2010

The XJ is Jaguar’s flagship model and is a British automotive icon. Since the appearance of the first generation in 1968 this large executive saloon has been the ride of choice for many senior executives and has become a badge of respectability. However, it has needed a thorough overhaul for some time: the last iteration, the Mk 3, first appeared in 2003, but it retained a look that stretched back to 1986. With the latest Mk4 version, an overhaul is what the XJ has received, the conservative luxury cruiser being replaced by controversial new coupe styling. But it doesn’t just look sportier: it’s also had a character transplant, becoming an entirely different kind of car.

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 new XJ comes with a choice of a 271bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel or one of two versions of Jaguar’s V8 petrol engine, a naturally aspirated 380bhp unit and a supercharged Supersport model producing 503bhp. The diesel will be the most popular version by far (85% of sales in the UK), which is entirely logical, as it provides an ideal blend of refined power with decent fuel consumption and acceptable CO2 emissions. The naturally aspirated V8 petrol engine is pricier and more powerful, but has less torque, so in our minds there seems to be little reason for buyers to opt for it, especially as the diesel is so refined. However, Jaguar expects it to account for 10% of sale sin the UK. The Supersport model, on the other hand, while dirtier and considerably more expensive to buy and run, does offer immense power and a genuinely thrilling driving experience. A luxury sports saloon, it’s 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. All models come with Jaguar’s six-speed automatic transmission, which is controlled using the unique rotary shifter that first appeared on the XF. Gear changes are smooth and efficient: alternatively, if you opt to use the paddleshifts and swap cogs yourself, the gearbox reacts quickly to your input.

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 surface into the cabin (which is rarely a good thing on UK roads). 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

As befits a luxury car, the initial purchase price of the new XJ isn’t cheap: starting at £53,775 for the 3.0 Diesel Luxury trim, it rises to £64,275 for the most expensive oilburner (Portfolio), before heading to £64,355 for the base V8 petrol model (Premium Luxury) and up to £90,455 for the long-wheelbase version of the V8 Supersport (all LWB versions are £3,000 more than the standard wheelbase equivalents). The 3.0 Diesel version is obviously the least expensive to run, with fuel consumption of 40.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 184g/km, meaning road tax of £175 a year. The two petrol versions will, however, incur high running costs, with the naturally aspirated V8 returning 24.9mpg and emitting 264g/km and the V8 Supersport’s figures being 23.4mpg and 289g/km: road tax for both versions will therefore be a whopping £405 a year. All models fall in insurance groups 48 to 50 under the new 50-group system (ie, right at the very top). 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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