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Used car focus: Jaguar XJ – 1994-2003

This generation of XJ continued Jaguar's long line of large, plush saloons. It was launched in 1994 as a Ford-financed reworking of the XJ40, which was launched in 1986. The model got further revisions in 1997, with the old straight-six engine replaced by an all-new V8, plus a superb five-speed auto; the badging was also changed from XJ6 to XJ8.

At launch there were 3.2, 4.0 and 6.0-litre engines, all carried over from the old car. Daimler Six and Double Six 4.0 and 6.0 V12 limousine models were launched at the same time, with alloy wheels, electric mirrors, heated electric seats, leather upholstery and cruise control. Double Six had traction control and a CD autochanger. Long wheelbase models were available from June 1995; all Daimlers were then LWB as standard. The XJ8 V8 range replaced the old 3.2 and 4.0 in September 1997. Other revisions included more rounded bumpers and grille, standard alloy wheels, electronic stability control and climate control. Daimler came as a V8 or Super V8 only.

The XJ relishes being driven fast. It's graceful and obedient and although happiest on a straight motorway, the balance of ride and handling is exceptional and it can feel quite agile on back roads.

A favourite among Cabinet Ministers for years – minimal wind, road and engine noise and a ride smooth enough to allow working on the move.

The seats are comfortable enough for long-distance trips, though their shape means it's only suitable for two. Standard models have surprisingly little legroom in the back. Head and shoulder room is good for two rear passengers and a massive boot will swallow most loads.

Taller drivers have restricted headroom, but it's easy to find a comfortable driving position thanks to an adjustable wheel and seat.

The 3.2 and 4.0 V8 engines linked to five-speed manual gearboxes are the best choice as they are much quieter than the old units. The 370bhp XJR gives exceptional performance, with 0-60 in little over five seconds.

The XJ has ABS, twin airbags, side airbags and automatic electronic stability control from 1997; 4.0 has traction control. All have alarm and immobiliser systems, while later cars add shielded deadlocks.

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