You have a choice. You can drive a new hatchback, or a second hand Jag. It’s a proposition most petrolheads will probably have discussed over a few pints at some stage. In the cold light of day, the argument for a Jaguar rarely stands up. In a world where fuel prices are on a constant upward spiral and big engines get taxed ever more aggressively, big Jaguars can start to look slightly superfluous. After all, a Ford Focus can get you to work just as well. But makers of luxury cars, including Jaguar have got wise to this.
With the latest diesel engines, Jaguars don’t require the sale of your internal organs to run, meaning you can have your cake and eat it. I discovered this during the day or so I spent with a Jaguar powered by JLR’s brilliant 3.0 V6 diesel unit. Jaguars which can achieve 40 mpg day to day are now a reality — tell that to a Jaguar owner 20 years ago or so and they would have laughed in your face…Possibly before telling you that there would never be a diesel Jaguar, and then roaring off into the distance in their 4.0 Sovereign. Of course, a petrol V8 in naturally aspirated or supercharged flavour is still offered to those who need ungodly amounts of power and indecent acceleration.
The latest XJ, the X351 is a pretty special beast though. Car makers often announce that they’re taking a marque in a new direction, or reinventing themselves. More often than not, all we see is a new grill design and snazzy LEDs. With the X351 it was different. It truly did break Jaguar’s own mold, not only in terms of how a Jaguar looks, but it sent shockwaves throughout its entire class. Never before had such a dramatic interior been seen in this price bracket before. If you wanted yacht style ambience and character (and quite possibly yacht style size, should you plum for the XJ-L) before the advent of the X351, you’d need to cough up for a Bentley or Rolls Royce.
It really did mark the start of a fresh page in Jaguar’s design, and if there’s any justice, history will treat it well. But just as much attention has been paid to what’s the skin. The X351 uses Jaguar’s aerospace inspired body construction, and Jaguar claims that the body is made with 50% recycled materials. So what we have then, is a socially responsible Jag…
The best thing however, is that it can be yours for a lot less than you might think. With prices starting from as a little as £20,000, used X351s are bargains right now. Twenty grand will buy you a nice V6 diesel with a sensible specification. That price tag may seem like a lot, but what will 20 grand buy you on the new car market? A tricked out hatchback or crossover? I know what I’d rather have…
The majority of used X351s will be hovering somewhere around the 40-50k mark though. While they are beginning to escape the Jaguar dealer network, most will still be found on main dealer forecourts. Typically these will be slightly later cars with fewer miles on the clock, than privately or specialist sold examples. But with these still being relatively young, it’s unlikely that many owners will have skimped on maintenance, making them a pretty safe punt. There’s better news for buyers though, cars which are three years old or so will have now passed that painful stage of early deprecation, they’re not an investment, but you’ll loose a lot less money on one of these than you would have done ten years ago.
Rest assured though, whichever year you chose, your car will hardly be spartan. Even the “base” Luxury trim level comes with amenities such as duel zone climate control and a panoramic glass roof, and that brilliant Jaguar driving experience.
In terms of what to look out for and avoid, there isn’t a lot to worry about, but it’s worth stopping to consider potential pit-falls. Some X351 owners have found that damp can make a forced entry into their rear lights. Make sure you inspect them carefully, because there’s no telling what sort of trouble that could wreak as the cars get older. As with all luxury cars, specification is important. While most of the cars have been specced up sensibly and in good taste, it’s still possible to go on Jaguar’s online car configurator after a couple of beers and make some pretty ghastly creations.
Nobody wants an Italian Racing Red example with beige leather and carbon fibre trim, and neither should you (if you’re serious about residuals). I’m yet to see such an XJ, but I’m told they do exist.
Other than that my friends… there’s really nothing to worry about.
So what’s it to be? Posh hatchback or Jaguar XJ?
You do the maths (oops sorry Mr sub prime Renault slogan writer)