2012 Jaguar XJ Performance

$18,713 - $24,641

2012 Jaguar XJ Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Jaguar XJ was new.


Performance: 8.3

The 2012 Jaguar XJ is one of the most nimble super luxury cars, and it’s also quite fast thanks to its powerful engine choices. Despite being slightly less powerful than the BMW 7-Series, the base XJ is just as quick and agile thanks to its lightweight aluminum construction. The automotive press loves the XJ’s acceleration, and while most appreciate its handling, some state that it’s not always as composed as they would like. One reviewer thinks that the brakes are a drastic improvement over past XJ models, while another says that they’re slightly grabby.

  • "Lightweight aluminum construction contributes to a good balance of comfort and handling. The engines are powerful and sing during acceleration." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Few cars strike such an excellent balance between ride comfort and sporty handling as the 2012 Jaguar XJ. It glides down the road with a sophisticated suppleness, though its big wheels may transmit more impact harshness over rough pavement than those of a Benz S-Class." -- Edmunds
  • "It represents a comprehensive rethink of what a large Jaguar luxury sedan should be. It's shifting away from the S-Class or A8 or 7 Series. The XJ feels distinctly sportier. The ride is no longer the waft it was with the old XJ. The V-8 isn't intended to be silent. The steering is quick, the cornering agile." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The down side is a low speed ride that is jiggly and borderline harsh. The upside? It really hustles." -- Popular Mechanics  
  • "Thankfully, the subtle sporting blood found in every other Jaguar - that laid-back, get-funky-on-a-mountain-road je ne sais quoi jolly good, you moneyed freak, let's dance feeling - is still there." -- Jalopnik 

Acceleration and Power

With three engine choices and an excellent six-speed automatic transmission, the XJ is no slouch when you step on the gas. The standard XJ features a 5.0-liter, 385-horsepower V8. Although it’s slightly less powerful than a BMW 750i, reviewers say that it’s just as quick. If you’re looking for even more power, Supercharged and special-order Supersport models feature supercharged versions of the 5.0-liter V8 that put out 470 and 510 horsepower, respectively.  

The EPA has yet to test the 2012 XJ’s fuel economy. However, they have tested the similar 2011 model, which gets 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway with the 385-horsepower V8. The XJL gets 15/22 mpg city/highway with the same engine, while the XJ Supercharged uses a bit more fuel, getting 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

The XJ Supersport, as well as the XJL Supercharged and XJL Supersport, have not yet been rated by the EPA.

  • "The automatic transmission shifts quickly and seamlessly." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Your engine choice simply comes down to how quick you want to go. The base car offers less power than a BMW 750i, but the XJ's lightweight body helps it match the Bimmer's acceleration. The Supercharged and Supersport, meanwhile, truly surprise with their prodigious performance." -- Edmunds
  • "The shifts on the ZF six-speed transmission arrive smoothly just when you need them, making Mercedes' seven-speeder feel fussy. In sport auto mode, it's superb at predicting when you'd want a downshift on entry to a curve. Use the paddles to manually shift under power, and there can be a bit of a thump in the back, but the compensation is a very prompt reward to your demand." -- Motor Trend 
  • "There's plenty of low-down pulling power so you can short-shift the gears using the steering column paddles, but if you do hold those ratios to the redline, the soundtrack is beguiling and the car feels unstoppable." -- Popular Mechanics 

Handling and Braking

The XJ’s aluminum body also gives it an advantage when it comes to handling. Most reviewers think that the XJ drives like a much smaller car, and they’re impressed with its adaptive suspension, which can be adjusted to increase comfort or firmed-up in Dynamic mode for twisty roads. Despite its nimble cornering ability, a few reviewers think that the XJ’s suspension could handle road imperfections a little better. The steering and braking systems also get high marks from most, although one reviewer thinks that the XJ’s brakes are too sensitive.

  • "All XJLs ride firmly, perhaps more so than some luxury buyers would prefer. Pavement cracks are felt more than one might expect, but larger bumps are absorbed exceptionally well." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Its lightweight aluminum chassis, adaptive suspension and communicative steering create a deceptively agile car." -- Edmunds
  • "On pitching pavement it can rock a bit side to side, but it never feels loose or discombobulated." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Brakes are also different from those in the XJ's predecessor with a much shorter and harder pedal travel but the same superb linearity of response." -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "The previous XJ's exceedingly coddling ride is gone, replaced by a significantly stiffer approach that offers little in the way of body roll in normal driving. The velvety brake feel of past XJs is also absent; the massive four-wheel discs are slightly grabby, though they do offer pleasingly short pedal travel." -- Jalopnik 

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