Depreciation Station: 2003-’08 Jaguar XJR

Story By Andy Reid

When it debuted in 2003, the new Jaguar XJ series cars easily could have been mistaken for a simple facelift of the old model. The car still had the traditional XJ lines dating to the original Series 1 XJ6, but it was under the skin–or the skin itself– that differed.

The new XJ series was the first aluminum- constructed Jaguar road car, so it was impervious to body and chassis rust. This new aluminum chassis was more rigid and much lighter than the earlier all-steel X300 and XK cars. What did this mean? The new car had higher performance, weighed less, handled better, and felt lighter when driven.

This new XJ was a hit from the onset, with many car magazines calling it the finest Jaguar sedan ever created. We would agree with that.

Upon its introduction to the U.S., the car came in three separate models: the standard XJ6, the Vanden Plas edition, and the high-performance XJR.

This was the third generation of the XJR in the country. The car came standard with an all-aluminum four-cam V8 engine that made 399 ft.-lbs. of torque and 390 horsepower. Then there was the computer-controlled air sport suspension, Brembo brakes, and six-speed automatic transmission.

Combine all this with the superb build quality, Connolly leather, Wilton wool and wood veneer of a Jaguar interior, and you have a car that can give a Bentley Turbo R a run for its money, not to mention the sports sedan offerings from Mercedes- Benz and BMW.

What about the Jaguar’s notorious reputation for unreliability? By this time in the company’s history, that Achilles’ heel of Jaguar ownership had been pretty well banished, with the cars repeatedly scoring top marks inJ.D. Power and Associates’ annual dependability ratings.

The performance of the XJR competed with the best offerings in European sports sedans with a 4.8-second zero-to-60 time and a 13.4-second quarter-mile. Those numbers nearly launched it into the supercar category and made it faster than the SL55 AMG we featured in our July 2013 issue.

The news only gets better: Today, you can buy one of these cars with less than 70,000 miles for as little as $13K, with nearly perfect, sub-40,000-mile examples selling for around $30K. (2019 prices)

Care and Feeding

The XJR is probably the best-sorted Jaguar. As a result, there aren’t a lot of issues with these cars. Service costs will be comparable or possibly cheaper than those for BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Audis.

One issue that comes up fairly regularly is a stuck electronic parking brake. This usually happens when the car has been sitting for a while. These are not cars you can service yourself, though; they need a shop dedicated to Jaguar service. Despite that, we don’t think a car that’s been cared for should cost any more than $1000 to $1500 a year to maintain.

Like any modern highend car, examples should have a full service history from a Jaguar dealer or reputable Jaguar independent shop to earn your consideration. Also, be sure to have a prepurchase inspection done on the car by a Jaguar specialist who knows and understands these cars.

Last Piece of Advice

Though the XJR is reliable, don’t forget that it’s a high-performance automobile: Owning one will not be a Toyota Camry experience. Make sure you don’t try to save money by getting one that has immediate needs or neglected items.

Buy one of these right, and you can drive something that delivers a true British sports sedan experience for scant money.


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UKAuto New Reader
12/16/13 4:14 p.m.

Andy, I am with you on this. I have had a number of Jaguars over the years and put up with their issues as the benefits on the other side of the balance sheet still resulted in a net positive. My most recent Jaguar is a 2008 XJR, and I have covered about 70,000 km with one failed marker light bulb - and zero other failures.

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
9/11/19 8:57 a.m.
mistanfo UltraDork
9/11/19 3:27 p.m.

In reply to Jordan Rimpela :

Shouldn’t that be “color me British racing green”

Ransom UltimaDork
9/11/19 3:41 p.m.

Compelling, but I can't believe that CM would print the phrase "These are not cars you can service yourself, though; they need a shop dedicated to Jaguar service." without providing some examples, specifics, or differentiating the particular areas where specialty resources become mandatory.

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