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Jaguar XJR X350: PH Buying Guide

The all-aluminium X350 was a radical departure for Jag, even if it didn't look it - here's how to buy a good 'un

By Alisdairsuttie / Thursday, June 21, 2018

As subtle takes on the performance saloon go, the 2003 Jaguar XJR was almost anonymous to look at. Other than the 'XJR' badge on the boot, different alloy wheels and mesh front grille, this 400hp supercharged barge could slip past unnoticed.

Mind you, it was capable of slipping past most other traffic with no trouble at all. The 4.2-litre V8 also dished up 397lb ft of torque and used a slick ZF six-speed auto to see 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds, with an electronically ceilinged top speed of 155mph.

All of that subtlety was carried over into the cabin, which was opulently equipped but not garish - unless the original owner went a bit too far in the personalisation stakes. Still, you got a touchscreen for the infotainment and many included sat-nav, which now looks very out of date. More importantly, build quality in the cabin was a step up from the previous XJ, which could look tatty very quickly.

Jaguar facelifted the entire XJ range in mid-2007 and the XJR got deeper front and back bumpers and side skirts.

It's worth noting that the X350 generation of XJR doesn't ride with quite the same deft cushioning as the earlier generations, so be sure you're happy with this on a test drive before committing cash.

If you do go ahead, the cheapest out there start at around £5,500, but £7,500 is a more realistic budget for an early 2003 car. A really clean facelifted car with average miles will cost up to £14,000, which still bags you one of the most understated swift saloons ever made.

Bodywork and interior

Corrosion is the biggest worry with the body around the doors, boot lid, rear windscreen frame and wheel arches. Anywhere there's a sharp contour or crease in the body needs to be looked at too. It's not rust in the normal sense, but a reaction on the aluminium panels to moisture. This can be sorted by a specialist body shop and the good news is this type of corrosion doesn't spread like normal ferrous oxide rust. There have also been reports of galvanic corrosion where Jaguar used steel rivets to join aluminium panels, while others point at poorly applied paint or iron filings from when the body panels were pressed.

You should also inspect the underside closely for rust on the front and rear subframes, which are made from steel.

Parking dings can be expensive to put right because aluminium is more brittle and harder to repair, so expect larger bills for this sort of work. Check for any previous accident repairs or signs of damage.

Rear parking sensors can fail when water gets into their bodies set into the bumper. Removal and cleaning should get them working again.

Door handles can snap and electric windows stop working, requiring a new motor.

Engine and transmission

The six-speed auto is claimed to be sealed for life, but changing the transmission fluid every 50,000 miles is recommended by independent specialists. This can help cure the slightly jerky take-off from low speeds.

A gearbox ECU reflash will also help cure any snatchy behaviour of the gearbox, which was a common problem when the car was new.

The coolant valley pipe that runs underneath the supercharger can fail and means the entire supercharger, charge cooler and intake need to be removed to replace the hose. The hose is cheap, but the work to access it is expensive, so look carefully for any signs of coolant leaks at the rear of the engine and underneath.

The cooling system's expansion tank can become over-pressurised and blow off the connecting pipe. A new pressure valve should sort this.

Suspension and steering

Rear wishbone bushes wear more quickly than you might expect in a relatively light luxury saloon, so reckon on changing them every five years for around £850. Or you can just have the old bushes pressed out and new ones put in for much less.

Air suspension will almost certainly fail at some point and show a warning light on the dash. The air bags wear out and begin to leak, but Bilstein released original-spec modules in 2012 that are cheaper than Jaguar asks at its main dealers. However these units still come in at around £750 each. A more cost-effective route is a reconditioned complete unit from £349 available from Air Dominance in the UK.

The ECU's Body Processing Module can fail and affect the suspension. New ones are available for £500 or used ones that have been tested and working for £100.

Wheels, tyres and brakes

Jaguar issued a recall for leaking brake pipes, so make sure this has been carried out on affected cars built between December 2005 and October 2006.

Rear brake pads wear quickly and electronic handbrake can fail.


Engine: 4,196cc V8 supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400@6,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 399@3,500rpm
MPG: 22.3
CO2: 299g/km
Price new: £58,500
Price now: £5,500 upwards

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