1997 – 2002 Jaguar XJ
The Jaguar XJ (X308) is a luxury saloon manufactured and sold by Jaguar Cars between 1997 and 2003. It is an evolution of the outgoing X300 platform, and the exterior styling is nearly identical between the two generations. The major change was the introduction of Jaguar’s AJ-V8 as the only available engine. Like all previous XJ generations, it features the Jaguar independent rear suspension arrangement.
The X308 kept much of the same exterior styling as its predecessor, carrying its rounded four-headlamp bonnet, low roofline, sloping tail, and wrap-around rear light clusters. From the front, the two generations can be differentiated by the shape of the indicator lenses (rectangular on the X300, oval on the X308), and also by the shape of the fog lamps and lower valance air intake (both of which are more rounded on the X308). The front and rear bumpers were both changed along with the taillights which had red/clear lenses rather than red/grey lenses. The grill surround and badging was slightly changed. The headlight fixtures also included forward parking lights housed with the brights, new to X308.
The instrument binnacle of the XJ40 and X300 was replaced on the X308 with three large, separate gauges set into recesses in the curved dashboard. Door trim and the design of the center console were also slightly revised.
Having discontinued production of both the AJ16 inline-six and V12 engines, Jaguar offered only its newly designed V8 engine (named the AJ-V8.) It was available in either 3.2 L or 4.0 L form, although certain markets (such as the United States) only received cars powered by the 4.0 L version. The 4.0 L version was also supercharged in certain models.
Instead of the Daimler marque being used in certain markets, the equivalent “Vanden Plas” models were sold under the Jaguar name.
The base XJ8 came standard with more equipment than had been fitted to entry-level XJs in the past, including leather upholstery, alloy wheels, and air conditioning. The door mirrors and door handles are body-coloured. The radiator grille, windscreen and rear window surrounds, boot lid plinth, and rain gutters were chromed, while the window frames remained matt black. Interior wood trim is walnut. Rear badging reads “XJ8”.
For the home market in September 2000, Jaguar began badging the XJ8 model as “XJ Executive”, and fitted as standard rain-sensing wipers, a CD player, cruise control, and rear parking sensors.
Jaguar XJ Sport
The Sport model was equipped only with the 3.2 L normally aspirated engine, and, in 2002-2003 in the American market with a 4.0 L normally aspirated V8. It offered stiffer suspension, sportier seating and interior colour combinations, and wider/larger wheels than the XJ8. The windscreen and rear window surrounds were painted matt black, as were the rain gutters and window frames for European markets (the US retains chrome surrounds). The radiator grille has metallic grey vertical slats. Rather than a chrome radiator grille surround, the Sport uses a body-coloured surround. Rear badging reads “XJ Sport”.
The Sovereign represented the highest luxury specification for Jaguar models, sitting next to the XJR, which provides the ultimate performance. Sovereigns featured more elaborate/expensive wood veneer, commonly highly figured burr walnut; with window control/ashtray trim panels also done in wood veneer as opposed to plastic in other models. The Leather is also of a higher quality and often features contrasting piping, with seats being of the traditional fluted style. The suspension setup was biased towards touring and the wheels were normally 16″ or 17″ to provide high profile tyres for additional ride quality. Computer Active Technology System adaptive suspension was also offered as a rare option.
Externally a Sovereign can be distinguished by the complete use of highly polished steel/chrome work around windows and rear light clusters; as well as polished radiator grill and boot garnish. The cars are simply badged as “Sovereign” with no mention “XJ”.
Jaguar also released a long wheelbase version of the Sovereign in 1998. The difference being that the car is around 4 inches longer, with the rear doors being noticeably longer than the front; there is also correspondingly taller rear roof profile to provide additional headroom. The Long wheel base version provided considerably more rear legroom and made the XJ a true limousine.
Gear stick in the XJR 100
The XJR is powered by the supercharged version of the 4.0 L V8. It is also equipped with sport suspension, wider wheels and tires, and matte-black exterior window trim (except in the US market, where the XJR was given chrome window frames and rain gutters.) Like the Sport model, the XJR has a body-coloured radiator grille surround, but with a stainless-steel mesh insert rather than the normal vanes. Other exterior touches include the “XJR” rear badging and larger exhaust outlets.
Available on late XJR models was an “R1″ performance option. This included 18” BBS wheels, larger Brembo brakes with cross-drilled rotors, and re-tuned suspension.
The XJR was capable of reaching 60 mph (97 km/h) from a standstill in 5 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h).
In 2001, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Sir William Lyons’ birth, Jaguar produced five hundred examples of a special-edition model named the “XJR 100”. Only available in the Anthracite exterior color with charcoal leather upholstery, the interior is trimmed with contrasting red stitching and birdseye maple. It is fitted with a leather-covered sports steering wheel and MOMO shift knob. The XJR 100 uses the Brembo brakes otherwise found on the R1-equipped XJR, plus 19″ “Montreal”-style wheels manufactured by BBS.
Produced only in 2002, the SE (Special Equipment) model was fitted with more equipment than the original base model, and was offered at a competitive price. The rear badging read “SE”, and the cars were fitted with reverse parking sensors as standard.
Rear of a Daimler Super V8
The top-of-the-range Daimler marque (sold as the Vanden Plas model in certain markets like the United States) features softer suspension and all available luxury features. They are cosmetically differentiated by the traditional Daimler fluted radiator grille surround and fluted boot-lid plinth.
The Daimler and Vanden Plas cars were also available with the supercharged engine otherwise found only in the XJR. This model was named the Daimler Super V8. In the US market, this combination was available only as a special order though 2001 (with these cars identifiable by their “Vanden Plas Supercharged” rear badging). For US model years 2002 and 2003, the equivalent Super V8 model was then offered. These supercharged long-wheelbase variants were also fitted with Jaguar’s proprietary “Computer Active Technology System” (CATS) adaptive suspension. The “Sports” setup from the XJR application, however, is replaced by a “touring” set-up, exclusive to supercharged Daimler and Vanden Plas variants. It is softer and more compliant than the XJR’s Computer Adaptive Technology Suspension system.