Lovely to look at, discrete, fast
Although supposedly subjected to a service and 100-point test prior to collection, the rear windscreen heater is only partly functional. My guess is that the (independent) Jaguar dealership knew this, but were hoping I'd not notice for a while and therefore get it fixed under warranty rather than by them at their own cost.
In addition, after putting the car through some vigorous, but not unreasonable corners and high revs, there was some complaint from the engine. I'm going to do some more miles before submitting it to examination. Sounds sinister, especially considering the not-too-high mileage and recent service.
Electric mirror rectractors make a ratcheting sound and occasionally fail. Irritating that a car with such complicated engineering and electronics under the bonnet has been fitted with duff basics.
A couple of spots of dulled paint and ageing of the black door pillars, but nothing unreasonable for a five-year-old car.
The front end of the XJ series is one of the most beautiful bits of car ever designed; Jaguar of the sixties and seventies recaptured and improved. The unpleasant X and S types are dismal in comparison, especially as they are indistinguishable from Rovers. That said, the car is pointlessly long and would be a pain to park in Kansas, let alone London.
Rear space is fine; don't be put off. If Magic Johnson really needs a lift, let him ride up front. Quality of leather (mine has the sports option) seems outstanding - looks new at 48,000 miles (though the dealer might have spruced it up slightly). Ergonomics are good, though you have to lean forward to play with the air and the stereo.
Ride is a compromise, but works. Not as smooth as you'd expect from a Jaguar; not as sporty as you need from a car with this performance.
Speaking of which... the performance is quite something. Not really exciting, though. The noise doesn't engage the emotions and the Carrera-matching acceleration is laid down without fuss. It's an automatic, so even with 380HP, you can find a flat spot at kickdown. The new version has six gears, so this might be a thing of the past. And when I say flat spot, obviously that's relative... I say "not exciting", but having an innocuous car that's quicker than a Testarossa, Boxster, Elise, Impreza, etc is fun.
Handling is fine, but the weight of the car is a constant consideration. Touch with the road could be improved, but I guess then the ride would inevitably become firmer still. It is pointless to make comparisons with sports cars, or even with a hybrid such as the M3 - the Jaguar just can't compete. The traction control is almost intrusive: take it off. With decent tyres and due respect for the conditions and performance, it's not needed. Note, I test drove two 1999 M3s on the day I bought this car and the Jaguar was far, far nicer in every way. I can't emphasise that enough.
I agree with a fellow reviewer; the brakes aren't quite up to it. I'm reminding myself to be sensible, but the upgrade really should have happened at the factory. No excuse for mismatching a car's weight and power with its ability to stop.
Long-term fuel consumption is 18 MPG. That's what I expected, and not bad for a super-charged 4 litre limo.
The sound system is average. My car, apart from the wheels and leather, is the base model. But even that cost £45,000 or so. Would decent speakers - i.e. ones which can cope with the size of the amplifier - really be too much to ask? If you're buying second-hand, look for one which has an aftermarket set-up.
Insurance is bearable. Group 19 (that's one down from the highest, if any non-UK people are interested) and costs half as much as for an M3, less than half as much as for a Boxster of the same year. I bought this 46,000-mile model from a specialist dealer, including service, new tyres and two years warranty for £17,000. Seems a lot of car to me.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 14th May, 2004