Fleet News

Jaguar XJ8 4.2 Sport

Jaguar

Review

However, start to apply that rule to the vehicle they choose as their company car and the principle is likely to fall by the wayside. It could be because the amount of money invested in a luxury express, proportionally at least, might be a fraction of what is spent by a company overall on vehicles for essential users.

Whatever the reason, there is enough demand for manufacturers to offer a wealth of choice at the top end, with many new offerings available in the last 12 months or so. The most recent of these Jaguar's rejuvenated XJ.

The new 3.0-litre XJ6 fared well in a recent Fleet NewsNet road test (June 19), but now it's the turn of the 4.2-litre XJ8.

So competitive is Jaguar's pricing strategy with the XJ that it is possible to choose an SE or a Sport model and come well under the 'standard' entry points in the ranges of its competitors, which must make it worth considering for the cost-conscious board member.

But while the XJ seems to be good value for money, it might be difficult to find much additional interest for anyone other than those committed to the Jaguar brand. It is the antithesis of the clean design of the Audi A8, and is so conservative when compared to the challenging lines of the BMW 7-series.

Despite playing safe with the styling, the construction is highly advanced and the execution is first rate. The lightweight aluminium body means the XJ can be driven with enthusiasm. The combination of light weight and its suspension set-up are perhaps a better package than switching between comfort and sport settings on the much heavier 7-series equipped with Dynamic Drive.

The interior is sumptuously appointed, and is far roomier than any Jaguar to date. Five adults can be transported in comfort, although without the leg-stretching room found in an S-class or any other rival. And despite having the biggest boot of any Jaguar, it is too shallow to take tall, bulky objects.

The V8 engine is muted unless driven hard, when it lets out a spine-tingling roar, while the damping is second to none, with the car wafting over all manner of surfaces like it is riding on air.

If your company chairman is a Jaguar enthusiast, then he or she will want one regardless, but it is comforting to note that the car is a huge step forward from the old XJ, and can compete with its rivals on equal terms for performance and fuel economy. However, Jaguar enthusiasts might know from experience that their beloved cars are occasionally afflicted with gremlins, despite some hard work over the past few years trying to iron them out.

Our test car was a case in point. After two days the warning display read 'gearbox fault' and it was followed with a 'restricted performance' message, with the engine management system keeping revs frustratingly low while the car was driven home.

Just as annoying was the frequent seatbelt warning chime which seemed to be caused by a loose connection on the driver's seatbelt housing. A Jaguar engineer from the company's research and development centre was unable to shed any light on the matter immediately, so the car was parked for the remainder of the week.

Jaguar XJ8 4.2 Sport
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £51,320
CO2 emissions (g/km): 264
BIK % of P11D in 2003/04: 35%
Graduated VED rate: £160
Insurance group: 18E
Combined mpg: 26.0
CAP Monitor residual value: £20,075/39%
Depreciation (52.07 pence per mile x 60,000): £31,242
Maintenance (4.33 pence per mile x 60,000): £2,598
Fuel (14.68 pence per mile x 60,000): £8,808
Wholelife cost (71.08 pence per mile x 60,000): £42,648
Typical contract hire rate: £1,031 per month

  • All figures based on 3yrs/60,000 miles. Monthly rental quote from HSBC Vehicle Finance

    Three rivals to consider

  • Audi A8 3.7 quattro
  • Mercedes-Benz S350
  • Range Rover 4.4 HSE

    P11d price

    We have opted for cars this week that match closely on P11d value, rather than comparing like-for-like engine sizes or specifications. What this does is underline just what excellent value, relatively speaking, the XJ8 is. For one it has a creamy 4.2-litre V8 engine that the Audi and S350 can't match. And it has an extensive equipment list, as all three do, although you have to pay an extra £750 for metallic paint on the Jaguar which is standard on the others.

    Audi £50,780
    Mercedes-Benz £50,860
    Jaguar £51,320
    Range Rover £52,815

    SMR costs

    None of these cars will come back from a trip to the dealership with small bills, but the Jaguar is the best in terms of service, maintenance and repair. The major cost will be tyres: huge, expensive rubber with plenty of power being fed through the rears (in the case of the S350 and XJ8) and lots of weight through the fronts during braking means high costs for replacement, which could be a regular occurrence if the car is driven hard.

    Jaguar 4.33ppm
    Audi 4.70ppm
    Mercedes-Benz 5.16ppm
    Range Rover 5.20ppm

    Fuel costs

    Four-wheel drive scores very badly when it comes to fuel consumption if this comparison is anything to go by. The quattro-driven Audi, despite its featherlight aluminium body, still cannot beat the S-class while the Range Rover proves that four-wheel drive, a big engine, heavy weight and the aerodynamics of a house will always result in premier league gas-guzzling. The lean XJ8 proves again to be the accountant's choice, costing about £3,000 a year in fuel.

    Jaguar 14.68ppm
    Mercedes-Benz 14.97ppm
    Audi 16.11ppm
    Range Rover 21.94ppm

    Depreciation costs

    As is the way with large luxury cars, fairly average percentage residual value predictions are often found sitting next to some monumental price drops: more than £22,000 for the Range Rover on a very decent 42% for example. The A8 fares very poorly here, predicted to retain only 36% after three years/60,000 miles, which is disappointing considering what a superb car it is. The Merc and Jag are closely matched at 39%, showing 'get-what-you-expect' luxury saloons always do well in the secondhand market.

    Mercedes-Benz 51.09ppm
    Range Rover 51.27ppm
    Jaguar 52.07ppm
    Audi 54.53ppm

    Wholelife costs

    The XJ8 and the S350 are closely matched in all areas but the Jaguar sneaks it by being marginally better on SMR and fuel costs, while the Mercedes-Benz cannot quite drag that difference back through slightly stronger RVs. The A8 is a beautiful-looking car and will be extremely reliable but is let down by its likely performance when sold, while the Range Rover is the most expensive to run with massive fuel bills, but it is glorious, proving you get what you pay for.

    Jaguar 71.08ppm
    Mercedes-Benz 71.22ppm
    Audi 75.34ppm
    Range Rover 78.41ppm

    Emissions and BIK tax rates

    While the impact on the environment of these thirsty, heavy cars with their high carbon dioxide emissions should be an issue worth serious consideration for any company before ordering one, the likely benefit-in-kind tax bill for the executives should keep the rest of the workforce amused. A 40% tax-payer would fork out between £7,000 to £7,500 a year for all of these vehicles. A shame then for the proles that most might opt out and pay for them in some sort of cash-for-car scheme.

    Jaguar 264g/km/35%
    Mercedes-Benz 266g/km/35%
    Audi 286g/km/35%
    Range Rover 389g/km/35%

    Verdict

    If driving something a little bit different from the rest is part of choosing a car, then the Range Rover and Audi are good options – but be prepared to justify the decision to the financial director. The S350 and XJ8 are very closely matched, but the Merc is more spacious, is as well-equipped and wins on depreciation costs, leaving the Jag second – unless a V8 engine is a prerequisite.

    For

  • Driving experience
  • Low running costs
  • Ride comfort

    Against

  • Shallow boot
  • Styling too traditional?
  • Electronic glitches on test car
  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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