The Goodwood Test: 2017 Jaguar XJ R-Sport

08th January 2018
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.



The XJ badge has adorned Jaguar’s halo saloon since 1968, but this current model dates really from 2010 when designer Ian Callum’s pencil-licked drawings came to life on sales forecourts.

The XJ competes against the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 as well, perhaps, as Tesla’s Model S.  

There have been three facelifts for the model in the seven years it has been on sale, with this 2017 revision the latest. We tested the XJ R-Sport: the range starts with a 3.0-litre V6 and rises to the XJR with its supercharged JLR 5.0-litre V8. Our XJ R-Sport is the V6 version, with a smattering of Sport styling and attitude.



The first XJ marked Ian Callum’s radical, well-received restyling of the Jaguar brand, along more contemporary, dynamic, sporting lines. Since then, facelifts have become even sharper, and today’s XJ is a svelte, well-tailored executive saloon on the outside, with pinched headlights and high-definition creases in the bodywork. The enormous 20in wheels cut high into the sleek coupe’s bodywork, suggesting that the XJ is at the performance end of the saloon spectrum. The model confirms Jaguar’s market position as a maker of “fast, beautiful cars”. In addition, the R-Sport specification has a gloss-black rear valance, deeper side sills and our model was painted Italian Red, which might go against the British spirit of this car but enhanced its aggressive stance on the road. 

Inside, the XJ has always been something of a reverse Tardis, with the low-slung silhouette removing a lot of headroom in the rear, while leg space is not great and the front is puffed out with folds of leather, a yacht-like curling dash wrapping round the cabin and layers of expensive materials and surfaces. It really is the luxury saloon for someone who cares not a jot for carrying children or any other extraneous items. It has the vibe of a crowded gentleman’s club in Town and is all the more delightful for it.



That V6 is plenty for Jaguar’s inherent spirited driving, with 306 roaring horses on tap and a huge 700Nm (516lb ft) to shift you away from the lights. It feels like a highly decadent spread of power in a heavy, luxuriously appointed saloon. There is something marvellously unruffled and yet sporty about the drive: the combination of Jaguar’s sublime short-wheelbase chassis (the XJ comes in LWB form too), with its pinpoint steering feedback and sublime damping, and that huge dollop of torque, delivered through JLR’s ZF eight-speed auto, is sublime. Makes you want to wave the Union Flag on a Tour of Britain. Those huge brake discs and callipers offer a well-balanced stopping effort, too.



It’s such a joy to drive something so good with a British badge on it. While the German three might win on interior space and practicality over the XJ, and the S-class might take extra plaudits for the level of comfort, the XJ is an imaginative reawakening of the glory days of the luxury saloon. To that end, it has more in common with the Maserati Quattroporte than any standard exec saloon, with an extra splash of verve and decoration factored in. We adore it.

Price as tested: £70,975

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