£10K V8 saloons - Jaguar XJR

The supercharged V8 whisks you forward with effortless grace

The first car on our shortlist was nominated by motoring ed Barker. Back at the turn of the century he ran one of these big cats on our Fast Fleet for two years and it became virtually part of the family. That was the uprated ‘R’ version, which is not only rare but doesn’t quite slide into our budgetary constraints. However, the good news is that the supercharged 4-litre V8 fitted to the standard XJR packs the same 370bhp velvet-gloved punch. Known as the X308, this sixth version of the XJ ran from 1998 through to 2003, and there are so many of them around that £8K can easily bag you a tidy example.

Outside and in, the XJR is every inch a Jaguar. This particular car has cream leather (slightly cracked now) stitched over the well-bolstered chairs. Turn the V8 over and it wakes with an unobtrusive, discreet and almost distant burble. The Eaton supercharger doesn’t find its voice until you start to press the throttle deep into the thick carpet, and when you do you’re whisked forward with seemingly effortless grace. The torque makes a mockery of the Jag’s girth at low revs, then as the supercharger spins harder, its whine dominating proceedings, there’s an unexpected top-end kick.

Even with CATS (Computer Active Technology Suspension) dampers, as fitted to this example, the ride is soft and compliant but surprisingly controlled, although roll is quite pronounced. The tracking is out slightly and the brakes feel a little past their best, struggling to haul us down cleanly from big speeds and, worryingly, pulling us slightly to the left (this may be connected to the tracking issue), so some money would have to be spent to bring this XJR back to its former glory. Mind you, it is being advertised on Auto Trader for £7995, so there would be money in our budget to get things straight. Also in its favour is the fact that it has recently had nearly £2000 spent on new catalysts and lambda sensors.

Composed yet with hard-hitting performance, and well within our budget, the XJR is a real contender.

Checkpoints

• Pre-2000 engines had a Nikasil coating on the aluminium bores that is prone to degradation. When this happens compression is lost and the car won’t start. Unfortunately this is a terminal problem and although Jag did replace affected units under warranty back in the day, you’d be hard pushed to get them to do it now. It’s essential, therefore, to get the engine compression checked before buying, or, better still, only look at cars that have had the engine replaced (there will be a green label at the right-hand rear of the block) or post-2000 model-year cars.

• The plastic used for the timing-chain slippers on early cars can disintegrate over time. Listen for a rattle from the front of the engine when it is cold. The slippers should be replaced at 60,000 miles. If not done, valves will hit pistons… Replacement is a labour-intensive job, so expect to pay up to £2000 to get it done, but it will cure the problem completely as the later steel slippers will be installed. From 2000 reinforced plastic versions were fitted and these should be fine; the steel type came on stream in 2002.

• The heavy wheels can wear the front wheel bearings, but the suspension is generally robust; dampers last around 80,000 miles.

• The electrics should all be working fine. There are no common problems, but check everything functions correctly as fault-finding is time-consuming.

Specifications

Engine V8, 3996cc, supercharged
Max power370bhp @ 6150rpm
Max torque387lb ft @ 3000rpm
Weight  1775kg
Power-to-weight211bhp/ton
0-60mph 5.6sec
Top speed155mph (limited)
Est. running costs£1300 per year (includes depreciation and maintenance but excludes insurance and fuel)

Most Popular

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn
MAT Stratos – front tracking
Lancia

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn

It’s been a long time coming, but this Ferrari F430-based reimagining of the Lancia Stratos is finally here
11 Jun 2021
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition – slide
Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act

Immense performance from about the coolest modern muscle car out there. It’s expensive, but there’s nothing else quite like it
12 Jun 2021
BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance
BMW M5 CS – front cornering
BMW M5 saloon

BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance

Nonsensical on paper, but sublime in practice. Never has a modern supersaloon been more tactile or more engaging
14 Jun 2021
Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers
Tesla Model S Plaid
Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers

The long-awaited Tesla Model S Plaid has finally come to fruition, with first US examples hitting the road
11 Jun 2021
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?
Audi RS3 manufacturer spy 1
Audi RS3

2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?

Audi Sport is putting the final touches on its new RS3 hot hatch and saloon
10 Jun 2021
2021 Maserati GranTurismo to go EV-only – IC option ditched
2021 Maserati GranTurismo spy – track
Maserati

2021 Maserati GranTurismo to go EV-only – IC option ditched

GranTurismo coupe and its soft-top GranCabrio sibling to be reborn later this year, but controversially without the proposed combustion alternative...…
11 Jun 2021
Posaidon’s 217mph Mercedes-AMG E63 RS is faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder
Posaidon Mercedes-AMG E63
Mercedes E63 AMG

Posaidon’s 217mph Mercedes-AMG E63 RS is faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder

Three new Posaidon power upgrades are now available for Mercedes-AMG’s E63 S, bringing hypercar numbers to the four door supersaloon
9 Jun 2021
Used car deals of the week
Used car deals 11 June 21
used cars

Used car deals of the week

Here's what caught evo’s fancy this week on the second hand car market
11 Jun 2021
Updated in-line six Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door revealed – hybrid V8s still to come
Mercedes-AMG GT53 MY22 – front tracking
Mercedes

Updated in-line six Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door revealed – hybrid V8s still to come

GT43 and GT53 4-Doors receive a refresh while we await the arrival of the V8 hybrid GT73
14 Jun 2021
Best small cars 2021 – pocket rockets reviewed and rated
Best small cars 2021
Best cars

Best small cars 2021 – pocket rockets reviewed and rated

You don’t need 200bhp or more in a small hatchback to have fun – these ‘warm’ small cars are the proof
7 Jun 2021
Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement mule spied – will it emulate the McLaren Artura?
Ferrari F171 spy 2021 – front
Ferrari

Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement mule spied – will it emulate the McLaren Artura?

Ferrari’s going hybrid and V6 for its next mid-engined supercar
9 Jun 2021
HKS in development of a supercharger kit for new 2021 Toyota GR 86
HKS Toyota GR 86
Toyota

HKS in development of a supercharger kit for new 2021 Toyota GR 86

Japanese tuner HKS is in development of a supercharger upgrade package for the new GR 86
9 Jun 2021
BMW announces entry into LMDh class from 2023 – to fight Audi, Porsche and other big names
BMW Le Mans header
BMW

BMW announces entry into LMDh class from 2023 – to fight Audi, Porsche and other big names

The 2023 LMDh class is shaping up to be a big one, with BMW getting back in on the action with its own racer, but only in the USA
11 Jun 2021
Can the Renault Clio Trophy beat a modern supersaloon for daily transport?
Jethro opinion header
Opinion

Can the Renault Clio Trophy beat a modern supersaloon for daily transport?

The boot struts have gone saggy and the hatch slams onto my head three times a week, but the Clio Trophy is hard to resist
8 Jun 2021