When you think classic Jaguar, your mind probably instantly jumps to icons such as the E-Type and the glorious D-Type. But one Jaguar legend which is often overlooked is the fantastic grand tourer, the Jaguar XJS.
Now I’m going to put my hands up and say that I’m no stranger to not immediately warming to the XJS. Jaguar of that era certainly had that “Old man” status to them, but after getting behind the wheel of not one, but two Jaguar XJS recently with the folks over at Great Escape Cars, my perception has changed almost instantaneously.
Okay, let’s get the funny remarks out the way first. Yes, the interior of these 90s cruisers are similar to that of a luxury sailboat and I agree, you could land a Harrier on that bonnet. But at least there’s a well-used ashtray from the first owner because he had a Jaaaaaaaaaaag…
But aside the obvious stereotypes, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the retro British classic! Immediate impressions are, holy crap that looks big! But the reality is that a modern M3 will give it a run for its money in terms of length and width. The front end looks aggressive enough to let you know that it’s not to be toyed with, but also invite a sense of confidence. Basically what I’m saying is that the XJS is the automotive equivalent of Ray Winstone.
But what’s it like to drive? Well, relaxing would certainly be one way of putting it. Both of the XJS’s I drove where auto so it was surprisingly comfortable and simple to drive. My worry when first stepping into the driving seat was that I was going to be driving essentially what would feel like a boat. The reality was the complete opposite. The steering felt nimble and responsive, which is quite the achievement considering the size of the car, and an incredibly nippy auto box. Although I half suspect that may have been due to the fact it was chucked into sport mode.
Jaguar XJS 4.0 Specifications
To give you a quick rundown of the XJS we drove, this is what we had in store.
The XJS has a 4.0L (3980cc) Straight six boasting about 238bhp. It has a top speed of 147mph and can achieve 0-60mph in just under 7.4 seconds. This particular XJS was a four-speed auto box, but the XJS does also come in a five-speed manual. You can take a look at the full technical specs below.
Engine: 3980cc straight six
Torque: 282lb ft
Top speed: 147mph
0-60 MPH: 7.4 seconds
Gearbox: 4 speed automatic
You’d probably expect having that sort of power in a Jaguar would cause a bit of a racket, but as is the tradition in classic British GT cars, it’s utterly silent. Cruising around town you would not even dream to think that these XJS’s could be housing a beefy straight six or a monstrous V12. That is until you put your foot down of course and then all hell breaks loose. The sound is exhilarating and very addictive. Unlike the Mondeo ST200 which I’d driven earlier that day; the XJS has a smooth, confident bark to it, reminding you that it’s got a slightly darker side to it than it’s quite, wafting looks would suggest.
All in all, the Jaguar XJS is a classic British sports car that certainly deserves your attention and love. Perhaps I’d even go to the extent of saying they’re even underrated for the price and performance you get. So much so I think I’ve been converted to the XJS master race. No doubt some point in the near future you’ll be seeing a XJS added to The Back Roads fleet! It’s elegant looks and plentiful power give the XJS a unique concoction of qualities which perhaps can only be found in GT’s of that era. If you’re reading this and thinking of getting one, my advice would be to consult someone with knowledge on the car first such as LUDEN Automotive to ensure you’re not getting a dog. But aside that? Go for it! I very much doubt you’d regret it…
Massive thank you to Great Escape Cars for inviting us along to try out their fleet and do this review.