The cars : Jaguar XJ (X350) development story

So closely did the X350 look like its XJ40-based predecessor, that many buyers would be forgiven for thinking that it wasn’t a new car at all.

However, as Ian Nicholls explains, the aluminium-bodied XJ was really rather revolutionary, even if it didn’t look it.

Jaguar X350: hiding under a bushell

Jaguar XJ6 2003

The Jaguar XJ (X350) was probably the most controversial car to emerge from the Coventry concern since the original XJ-S of 1975. Yes, as a car it was probably the best built and most reliable XJ saloon to that point, but sales wise, it was the least successful of a series dating back to 1968. However, that’s not to say that it wasn’t without its fans – and its plus points.

The X350 was the first entirely new XJ saloon since the XJ40 of 1986 which evolved in stages into the X300 of 1994 and the X308 of 1997 – the latter model introducing the brilliant AJ26 V8 engine, a development of the AJV8, available in both 3.2- and 4.0-litre versions.

What distinguished the X350 from the preceding cars was the use of an all-aluminium bodyshell. After paint was added and it was fully assembled, this amounted to what Jaguar claimed was an overall weight-saving of around 12% compared with a steel-bodied car (although, in fact, some models were actually heavier in terms of dry weight – the marketeers were doing their bit by justifying the use of aluminium); and the X350 was claimed to be 200lb lighter than the outgoing X308. Moreover, this was despite being larger than the X308 – with a 6in lengthened wheelbase, an extra 2in width, and 5in additional height.

The lighter body enabled Jaguar to offer the 3.0-litre AJV6 engine previously seen in the S-Type. This 2967cc 240bhp engine was good enough to give the X350 a 0-60mph time of 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 145mph. This compared well with the original XJ12 of 1972.

Trouble in the foreground

But the text above alludes to the fact that things were far from rosy for Jaguar during this period. It saw the closure and sale of the Browns Lane site, and the sale of Jaguar Land Rover by parent company Ford to the Indian TATA concern – the XJ was a cause for concern because its development was running late and over budget.

This was due to the need for a complete redesign of the front-end underframe. This cost the then Director of Engineering his job. The upshot of this fiasco was that Jaguar had no XJ to sell for more than a year, having ceased production of the X308.

Many feel what was wrong with the X350 was its unashamedly retro styling which harked back to Sir William Lyons original XJ6 of 1968. Why did Jaguar opt for this approach in a style-conscious world?

So, why the retro design?

Jaguar X350 proposal
Jaguar X350 proposal most closely aligned to the Jaguar S-Type

X350 design proposal
This Jaguar X350 design proposal is the closest to the production car – although, at this point, it retained the X300/X308 six-light window arrangement

To answer this we have to recap the recent history of the XJ series. The X300-generation (1994-1997) sold an average of 31,600 cars every year it was in production, which was the best for any of the XJ-series Jaguars. That said, it could be argued that the Series 1 of 1968-1973 could have sold more but for the ‘British disease’ affecting the UK motor industry industrial relations at the time.

The X300, which was styled by a team headed by the late Geoff Lawson, adopted a more retro style over the more progressive XJ40, which had had input from Sir William Lyons himself. Although car styling is subjective, it could be argued that the X300 was a modest triumph for Lawson’s team, which seemed to have decided to go for the retro look before the Ford takeover in 1989. The X300 looked like an even sleeker evolution of the Pininfarina/Lyons Series 3 XJ.

However, times were changing even as the X350 was in development. The X300 evolved into the V8-engined X308, which visually retained all the attributes of the outgoing car and internally was a great improvement.

Average annual X308 sales were now down to 24,100, which should have sent warning signals to Ford and Jaguar management that perhaps retro styling had had its day and that something more progressive was needed to compete with the more cutting edge designs from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and others. It could be argued that the XJ retro look had reached its stylistic zenith with the X300/X308 series and there was little that could be done to improve on that.

Dearborn calls the shots

Unfortunately, Jaguar wasn’t able to define a progressive style for the new car. Geoff Lawson and his team were not to blame for the so-called retro look of the X350 – or, for that matter, the X-Type (X400) or S-Type (X200). This was dictated by Ford – in Dearborn – who had very fixed ideas of what a Jaguar should look like. Lawson’s team simply did as it was told.

Moreover, according to AROnline Contributor and former Jaguar Development Engineer Kevan Barnhill, Ford directed that Jaguars should platform share with Ford. ‘The X350 platform architecture is entirely that of DEW98,’ Kevin said. ‘The only real divergence was in the front end underframe redesign that was required, to enable the car to pass crash tests (and satisfy insurers). This delayed the launch of X350 by a year.’

Geoff Lawson died at the early age of 54 in 1999 and was succeeded by Ian Callum, but this succession was too late to influence the X350’s overall look. Jaguar historian Paul Skilleter wrote in Jaguar World Monthly magazine: ‘As for its shape, I feel that with the X350, Jaguar was trying to produce an imposing car which would compete in size and presence with the larger Mercedes saloons. So the X350 is really a reversion to the MkIX approach – big, bold and upright.

‘But the styling which dates back to 1968 does not in my view lend itself well to this beefing up, and sat much better on its immediate predecessor, the X308, which has the essential Jaguar look of being classically low, sleek and elegant. Nor in exchange for this additional bulk did the interior appear to offer hugely more space inside than even the X-Type, let alone the XF, while the rather strangely-shaped boot space provided merely adequate luggage room.’

Paul Skilleter’s description of the X350 as a beefed-up X300/308 perhaps hits the nail on the head. By the time the X350 reached the market in 2003, Jaguar found itself partners with Land Rover in Ford’s Premier Automotive Group. The Solihull concern used Ford’s money and often Jaguar’s engines to produce a whole series of stunning new vehicles that appealed to the same luxury car sector as Jaguar and their sales increased year-on-year until the steep fuel price rises of 2008 bit hard.

To launch in 2003

Jaguar XJ 2003

The X350 was announced at the end of 2002 and went on sale in April 2003. When the first cars were handed over to the press in March 2003, they were given a warm welcome from the press. Craig Cheetham reviewed the XJ6 3.0 for Auto Express magazine and concluded: ‘Even the cheapest XJ6, which costs £39,000, gets electrically adjustable leather-clad seats, cruise control, climate control, reach-adjustable pedals and a top class sound system, while Sport trim adds figure-hugging seats, tuned suspension and 18-inch alloys.’

But it wasn’t just a value proposition – it was viewed as a front-running Director’s car. ‘The XJ isn’t as spacious as some rivals,’ Craig said. ‘But it now offers more leg and headroom front and rear, plus a larger boot. Jaguar has kept the car’s classic silhouette, and while some may be put off by this old-style elegance, the newcomer is among the most accomplished executive cars money can buy.’

Jaguar XJ interior X350 generation
Although all-new, the X350’s interior looked remarkably familiar…

The original range in the UK was as follows:

  • XJ6 3.0 V6 £39,000
  • XJ6 3.0 Sport £42,250
  • XJ 3.0 SE £42,250
  • XJ8 3.5 SE £48,000
  • XJ8 4.2 SE £51,500
  • XJR £58,500
  • Super V8 £68,500

The 3.0-litre AJ-V6 model marked the return of the evocative XJ6 name not seen since the demise of the X300 model in 1997 and was available as the XJ6, XJ6 Sport and XJ6 SE. A new version of the V8 engine appeared in the lowest-powered XJ8 cars, a 3555cc unit which produced 262bhp at 6250 rpm. This 150mph car could reach 60mph in 7.3 seconds. The 3.5-litre car was available as the XJ8, XJ8 Sport and XJ8 SE.

The largest-engined model used the 300bhp 4196cc version of the V8 which had also seen service in the S-Type. The extra capacity further reduced the 0-60 mph time to 6.3 seconds and the top speed was improved to a limited 155mph. The 4.2 litre XJ8 was available as Sport and SE models.

This model also marked a return to the 4.2-litre capacity seen on so many classic XK-engined Jaguars. Whereas the XK six-cylinder 4.2-litre engine produced a mere 205bhp in fuel injected form (if we ignore the somewhat dubious claims for some of the triple carburettor E-type units), the modern V8 was considerably more powerful, putting out a whopping 300bhp.

XJR returns with a bang

Jaguar XJR interior

For performance fans, there was the supercharged 4.2-litre XJR, which had its top speed limited to 155mph, and used its 400bhp to accelerate from rest to 60mph in 6 seconds. Finally, topping the range was the Jaguar Super V8 which used the XJR powertrain combined with the furnishings and fittings of a luxury car.

This was designed to go head-to-head with super-saloons such as the Audi S8, BMW 750 and Mercedes-Benz S500, but with a particular British twist. The US magazine Road & Track loved it, with the legendary John Lamm concluding after his 2004 drive: ‘The supercharged XJR remains the hero model with its taut-yet-reasonably supple suspension to help lay down the power of its huffed-up V8. With a claimed 0-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds, there’s ample power, with its light blower whine as background music.’

In the X308 range the Super V8 had been previously badged as a Daimler, but for now there was no room for this marque in the new order of things. A new ZF 6HP26 six-speed automatic transmission was now standard across the range. Like the X308 there was no manual transmission on offer.

The X350 came with all-new designs of alloy wheels, which because of a different PCD, could not be interchanged with those on the XJ40/X300/X308 models. The SE V6 and V8 models used a grille design reminiscent of the Series 2 XJ saloons, a feature attributed to Jaguar’s founder Sir William Lyons.

Model development

In 2004, the range was joined by a long-wheelbase version, but things were not going well for Jaguar and, at the end of the year, all car manufacture ceased at Browns Lane, Coventry – from now on, XJ production centred on the Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham.

The following year, Jaguar bowed to market forces and introduced a twin-turbo 24-valve diesel V6 of 2.7-litres, known as the AJ-V6D, in the X350. To Jaguar enthusiasts brought up on tales of V12 smoothness and refinement, most of whom couldn’t afford a new one, this was sacrilege. But consumers wanted the fuel economy the diesel engine offered, and soon the oil burning 206bhp TDVi XJ6 became the best-selling X350.

The new diesel XJ was still good for 141mph and a 0-60mph time of 7.8 seconds, which made it a close match for the Series 1 Daimler Double-Six tested by Motor magazine back in 1973, such was the pace of progress. Also in 2005 the Jaguar Super V8 was replaced by the Daimler Super Eight in all markets outside the USA.

Facelifted X358 in 2007

Jaguar X358 facelift

Then, in February 2007, a mildly-facelifted model, known as the X358, was shown to the press before being introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. It was a light-touch re-design that was intended to ease out some of the retro in its styling, with a revised front grille and smoother-looking front bumper. Other changes included revised headlights and door mirrors incorporated side repeaters, as well as newly-added side vents in the front wings. It looked more modern, although like most facelifts, it was far from an improvement.

Slowing sales meant that the range would be slowly rationalised – in December 2008, more diesel models were added at the same time as the normally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8 was deleted from the range.

It remained in production in this form until the last Jaguar X350 was produced on 27 March 2009 and donated to Coventry Transport Museum. It was the final example of 83,556 cars.

What’s the X350’s legacy?

The X350 hid its talents under a bushel. It was highly advanced, brilliant to drive and was a world-leader in terms of aluminium construction, but its retro styling was outwardly so similar to what came before that many potential customers incorrectly assumed it was a facelift of the outgoing model. Events conspired against it, too – not only was retro styling on the way out by the mid-2000s, but buyers were increasingly moving towards a different kind of luxury car.

Not only was it up against some seriously impressive saloon car rivals from Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, SUVs were coming into focus in this market sector. Porsche entered the fray with the Cayenne, an SUV for the man who wanted both a family car and a prestigious badge on the driveway, and the Range Rover (L322) was emerging as JLR’s de facto luxury car.

That might explain why X350 sales only averaged 13,500 a year, suggesting that Jaguar misjudged its market. For all the talk about heritage and brand values that appeal to car enthusiasts, most of whom can’t afford a new car, luxury car buyers tend to be a rational lot – and, sadly, the X350 although advanced beneath the skin, failed to appeal to a customer base that saw it as yet another rehash of an old idea from Coventry.

Jaguar X350 (05)

Ian Nicholls
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  1. A good article, but one slight error I believe.

    “In addition, Ford directed that Jaguars should platform share with Ford. The platform they insisted on using was the DEW98. This was the most up to date RWD platform Ford had. The layout of this platform is what caused the X350 (and X200) to be tall, wide, and consequently, frumpy looking”

    The aluminium X350 platform is completely different from the steel DEW98 platform used in the S Type, it’s entirely Jaguar designed.

    • Well having read the various comments and posts I am very surprised by much that has been written here, Having worked for Mercedes Benz for over 10 years and having an affection for classic British cars, I am biased I might add as I have just bought an extremely low mileage late X358 the looks of this car are really classic Jaguar, yes it does harp back to its early beginnings and you can see the earlier XJ’s and even the 420G/Mk10 but what’s wrong with that, Mercedes, Audi and other German manufactures constantly reintroduce their traditional styling and are proud of their heritage, Does a modern Audi look like an Audi of 20 years ago, yes course it does and Audi probably want it that way, take the badging and grille off the newer current Jaguar saloons and they look like many other Euro boxes, And technically what a car lightweight body, air suspension take a drive in a well looked after example and that will soon dispel any negatives, this car is up with and in my opinion better than its German rivals, and has a real sense of presence, and regarding comments about refinements not being up to the 70’s & 80’s cars really with respect the writer needs to revisit some of those earlier cars, As nice as they may now appear in pictures they fall well short of the quality of the X350 / X358 cars. I am advised beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but I will keep wearing my rose tinted glass’s and treasure my Jaguar X358 hopefully for many years to come. Built to a standard not a price. The end of an Era.

    • The X350 platform architecture is entirely that of DEW98. The only real divergence was in the front end underframe redesign that was required, to enable the car to pass crash (and satisfy insurers). This delayed the launch of X350 by a year.

    • This is true however both cars share the same running gear, subframes and suspension components with the exception the X350 has air springs where S Type is coil springs

  2. The X350 was in no way a sleeker version of previous XJ sedans. Use your eyes! The proportions are all dead wrong. The car is not low and slim looking at all, rather it is tall and bloated. It lacks the grace an elegance an XJ sedan ought to possess. Aping a few of the design features of previous cars is not necessarily going to give you a beautiful design, not if you fail to understand stance, proportion and line. Lawson stuffed it badly (and Callum is little better, with his XJ sedan aping the Audi design language in profile while somehow managing to look slab sided and heavy handed while doing it- even Audi do it better than that). These “modern designers” are different from Sir William. They seem utterly unable to produce beauty. Perhaps it is the way of the man imprisoned behind a computer screen instead of out in the yard working with trademen metal formers under natural light…

    Also, none of the latest XJ sedans is as refined as those old ’70s V12s. How can the marque be made lose so much of its key identities and atributes- being now neither beautiful, nor refined, trading bling for both.



    • You might need to read the article again. Where does it state X350 was a sleeker version of previous sedans? The answer is, it does not.

      • Despite it being more upright, I think it does look sleeker, as the writer opines in this paragraph:

        ‘The X300 looked like an even sleeker evoloution (sic) of the Pininfarina/Lyons Series 3 XJ and was quite possibly the best looking XJ saloon of all, although as mentioned above, styling is subjective.’

        • You seem to be referring to x350 (“more upright”) while the author refers to x300
          BTW I prefer x350, in my eyes it is not even close 🙂

          • X350 had two huge issues:

            1. It was a year late into production. X308 had stopped production and Browns Lane had been re-equipped for X350. This meant that you couldn’t buy an XJ for a year….people naturally went to BMW etc.

            2. X350 was probably the best salon car you could buy. The problem was, you couldn’t get anybody to get in the damn thing and try it! X350 was fat arsed, graceless, and old looking. It drove customers away!

  3. I agree much of what is said in this article, but Mikey C is right, the X350 shares nothing of its platform with the Ford DEW98, it is unique to Jaguar. I have been running a 2003 XJ8 4.2 for some years now as a successor to my much- loved (and very reliable) X300, a 1997 4.0 model. Initially I missed the slightly vintage feel of the X300, and I still think the X300/X308 are the best looking modern Jaguar sedans. However, the X350 hides its bulk well unless it’s sitting directly next to its predecessors, and the 4.2 V8 motor (also a unique Jaguar design) is light years ahead of the AJ16 unit which, combined with the lighter weight (my X350 4.2 is 185kg lighter than the XJ6 4.0) puts the X350 in a different league performance wise, and is also 15-20% better on fuel. I think time has been kind to these cars, particularly the pre-2007 facelift models, the revisions to which in my eyes didn’t quite work; and they now represent amazing buying secondhand. Mine has had very few problems and though now over 10 years old is running as beautifully as ever and the body is tight with no squeaks or rattles and the interior still like new. If you don’t think these cars are quiet and refined, try one against a contemporary BMW 7 series or Benz E or S class. You’ll be amazed at the contrast. The only downside judged against the earlier cars is a slightly harsher ride around town, particularly when driving with no rear seat passengers, but the payoff is much superior suspension control at highway speeds and far sharper handling than of old. And despite what the article days, the interior is much bigger, allowing larger and more comfortable seats, oarticularly in the rear. The boot is shallow and doesn’t have a flat floor which makes loading it effectively a bit tricky, but it is large. My tip – buy an early 2007 car, just before the facelift, get the 4.2 as it uses hardly and more fuel and has effortless performance, make sure it has xenon headlights (mine doesn’t and the standard lights are a bit weak) and crucially that it has a full service history from a Jaguar specialist, and you will have a wonderful long-term owmership proposition.

  4. As the writer of the original article, I would like to make some points
    It was researched with all the info in the public domain, which was not a great deal.
    When originally uploaded, one particular person made claims about the director of engineering losing his job and presumably the DEW98 platform. We modified the text to include all this, although none of this was in the public domain as far as I could tell.
    If any of this is incorrect, then I apologise profusely.

    • The X350 shared it’s platform architecture with the DEW platform. This does not mean that it shared an underframe with it. The underframe of X350 is simply laid out in a common manner with DEW. This drives the layout of things like the fuel tank (which in turn drove the high seating position and rear header of X350, which drove the width of the rear quarters). This derived relationship drove the rear drop glasses, which caused the cantrail height to go up. This all caused the styling to be tall and broad – as other commentators here have noted!

  5. i think the x350 is a fantstic car, its fast even the 3.0 v6 petrol is a flying machine, 7.8 secs 0-60. Even the early cars has xenon hid lights, sat nav etc, and they have real presence.
    air suspension, electric everything, they offer such great value, and they are well built, search the net, we are now seeing x350’s with over 200k miles under their belts.

  6. The X350’s design has one big, single, fundamental flaw: the car is far too tall. That’s why all those beautiful sleek Jaguar trademark lines from the XJ’s of old are distorted like caricature. This design language simply does not work on a car that tall.
    In order to avoid the perennial cricicism of the persumed lack of headroom in the old XJs’ back they broght the roofline up too far, completely disrupting the styling of the car. This makes the car look far more bloated than it really is.

    That the body is relatively heavy despite of being made from aluminium is owed to the fact that it does not properly use the material’s properties best. An aluminium body is best made from extruded parts attached to cast nodes by glue – just like Audi does in its aluminium bodies cars. Jaguar instead chose to use a lot of sheet metal for forming the body. Because aluminiunm is much less rigid than steel, in a sheet metal construction you have to use far thicker material, losing most of the weight advantage of it, just like Honda did with the NSX.
    Not putting together a car using glue can be justified with the efford to repair accident damage. This is far easier done on a Jaguar than on the Audis.

    • Wrong, the Audi system is low tech, cheapskate, and floppy, which is why their cars handle like container ships. The Jaguar is bonded together using a structural system more common in aircraft manufacture, and superior to anything the Krauts do, even 18 years later.

  7. I for one prefer the looks of x350 over its predecessor. Yes, it is taller, but both front and rear end look miles better. (And yes, the facelift around 2007/2008 yielded rather unfortunate result.)

  8. I own a x350, and it is the best thing ive ever driven, and she’s beautiful, I look down on bmw’s and merc’s, I don’t even consider Audi in the same league, I can honestly say I will drive nothing else.

      • Yes it is, his opinion, is his opinion, your reply, shows little respect for that, my persoanl opinion, and it is mine, is that the last gen XJ before teh Callum version, was a brilliant car, and today, some decade later still looks brilliant, and far far superior to the German trio, in fact i would go as far to say that the car looks better than any of the new German Trio, having oened a number of Jaguars, LR’s and MGR’s over the years, i find that their cars have always looked better, yes the X-Type included, we wont mention the last S-Type, though, that was a mistake of great proportions, the facelift did a little to improve matters but not a lot.

        The X358 is a stunning car, it drives like nothing else.

  9. The X350 is the best looking jag around. To my mind it strikes the right balance between retro looks and new technology. It has so much road presence. I love my XJ6 and will certainly by another. I only hope Jaguar are working hard on trying to reintroduce some of the classic ‘three box design’ in the new 2017/2018 XJ. The current coupe design on the latest XJ just doesn’t cut it and sales figures are dire in the UK.

    • I guess its all in the eye of the beholder. If those eyes are shielded by bi-focals and waiting for a cataract operation I dare say it does look the business.

  10. Sadly somwhat negative.

    Me thinks it’s the best looking XJ ever. Subjective yes.

    For us over 6 foot, the previous model lacked headroom, leg room and eldow room and was so too small for a big car.

  11. I have been a Jaguar owner for many years and have had a considerable range of Jaguars with an X350 Super V8 LWB being my current ride. I genuinely do not understand the criticisms of the styling… perhaps the slight increase in height is hidden more in the LWB version but I really never noticed it was taller than the X300/308. In my view it is the best looking of the older XJ models. Performance-wise it is exhilarating – all in all virtually the perfect car – for me anyway!

  12. I have just bought a 2003 XJ350 3.0 litre with 98k miles from a local car auction for an unbelievable £1385 including fees !….Most of the warning lights were on the dash, including DSC not available and gearbox fault….Obviously this put everyone off, but I decided it was worth a gamble !….If it was terminal, I thought I could not lose much even if I sold it on for spares.I drove it carefully to Jagman in Wigan, who diagnosed a wheel sensor (rear).replacing this and cleaning the ABS rings has resulted in a £120 bill and a car that honestly runs as new !!…..There is a tiny bit of bubbling to the top of the bootlid (£160) so I now have a truly beautiful car, immaculate in and out, for £1700 !!!……

  13. Hi there folks, I have recently bought myself a (xj350 super TDVI A) according to the logbook. My first jag was a x300 and I loved driving it but unfortunately it wasn’t to good in icy conditions.But this car is a giant leap as far as I am concerned I cannot wait to go out in it even if it is just a short trip it is a beautiful car to drive. Admittedly there has been a few niggles but what do you expect with with a 12 year old car and that’s what it is all about as far as I am concerned I love tinkering. I obviously appreciate that not everyone is mechanically minded so costs are higher having to use garages but I still think you couldn’t buy so much car for so little money and enjoy it as much with any other mark.

  14. I was a Jaguar owner for some 20 years, starting with an X300 XJ6 SVP through S Tyoe v8 (2), an X350 XJ6, and finally two XFS Portfolio’s.
    I switched brand in July ’15 when I took delivery of a new Maserati Ghibli.
    Firstly as has already been said the platform for X350 was an all new aluminium effort and had nothing to do with the DEW98 (S Type/Lincoln LS) platform.
    Unfortunately my 2003 XJ6 suffered like most Jaguar products with a lack of development, with a number of issues such as panel gaps (probably due to the aluminium constructions) of, putting it politely, a very wide and variable nature. This coupled with appalling paintwork, (particularly on the plastic bumper and trim mouldings which would suffer from chipping on an almost epidemic level) which in metallic silver, forever made the car look like different shades of colour from one panel to the next!
    There were certainly glimmers of excellence trying to shine through, with a luxurious cabin and imposing styling.
    However primarily due to the issues mentioned above, I ended up losing confidence in the car and selling it.

    • Keith, I hate to correct you, but the X350 platform was very much based on DEW98 – as was X200 and X150. Yes, the X350 and X150 were in aluminium. However, the layout and architecture were the same as DEW98. It’s also shared with other Ford products like Mustang.

      • I’m afraid you are wrong. The DEW98 platform was designed by both Ford and Jaguar and was used for the following models only: Jaguar S-Type; Lincoln LS; Ford Thunderbird and Jaguar XF.

        The Mustang and X350 were never built on this project. The Mustang was built on the D2C platform as the planned DEW98 lite platform being developed was costing too much, however some of the components were shared.

        The X350 was the first of the new bonded aluminium chassis and created by Jaguar engineers.

        Other that were originally planned to use the DEW98 were the Lincoln Zephyr and the Ford Fairline.

        • I guess 12 years at Jaguar as a design engineer, spanning X100 to X352, with all stops in between, taught me nothing….oh the wasted years….

          By the way….if you think X350 had an aluminium chassis, boy are you in trouble.

          • Kev, any chance you could get your hands on 3d-model of X-350 body? Maybe you still know soeone who works there…? Obviously I don’t want or expect anyone to threaten his career or face a law suit. I have no clue how protective carmakers are over something that has been out of pruduction for 10 years. To be honest, I feel this is unrealistic but maybe there’s hope…?

          • The X350 body was modelled in IDEAS – and that’s long gone. JLR use Catia now. I’m sure the IDEAS database was archived some years ago, but I will enquire for you.

          • I am currently looking to buy a Jaguar XJ (X350) but can’t decide between V6 or V8 engine.

            Do you know who Jaguar/Ford contracted to supply aluminium parts and panels? I read somewhere that Ford had an interest in this mystery aluminium metalworks plant in USA and forced X350 development to utilise aluminium in order to keep the plant in question open?

          • Oh gosh, I remember SDRC’s I-DEAS. Took months to learn how to use and you never felt like you were in full control of it.
            You could spend hours trying to carry out one operation.

  15. The X350 wasn’t successful commercially. It was to be said though that the X351 (which I much prefer) has sold just as badly, if not worse.

    It seems that the smaller XF has stolen sales from the XJ, indeed the current XF is the same length as the Series 3 XJ!

  16. It’s likely the X350 came on the market at the wrong time. The recession might have been a few years off and the economy was doing OK, but fuel prices were on an upward curve, changes to the car tax system meant the X350 was very expensive to tax, and the SUV boom was taking off. Also not being launched with a diesel was a mistake as all of the car’s main competitors had a diesel option.
    However, the X350 had the magnificient Jaguar V8, the traditional wood and leather interior and all the attributes you’d expect from a Jaguar, excellent performance and handling, a very comfortable ride and a near silent engine.

  17. As previously said in the comments already made, the X350 was Ford’s idea of what a Jaguar should be. However, Ford had put a cost down team in place at Browns Lane, and they caused havoc with the quality of components bought in. Their cost down saving was the next warranty issue that the component engineers were completely unaware of until the figures were analysed. On top of that there was the issue of incorrect tooling on the electrical pins and sockets in the connectors in the Spring of 2004. ABS, Gearbox and Engine management ECU’s were being changed by the dealers in the USA especially because all of the Instrument pack warning lights came on. Eventually after some considerable time, I discovered that the recepticles (male/female pins) manufactured by Tyco ( who had bought out AMP the supplier), had been tooled up incorrectly. Tyco had manufactured about 3 million of these items that both Jaguar, BMW and Volvo had used in the harness architecture. Momentary open circuit circuits of about 20mS on the CAN network that controlled the drive train resulted in failure messages when the diagnostic were used. Many ECU’s were changed under warranty un-neccesarily . Before I took early retirement at Xmas 2004 my investigation into this and other issues had resulted in a saving of £500k in warranty costs. Ford’s ownership of Jaguar was a disaster, and the above comments are just the tip of the iceberg.

    • Phil do you know who Jaguar or Ford contracted aluminium supply to for aluminium parts and panels for X350?

      • Not sure. I know that the first run of skin panels off production tooling was unsatisfactory because Ford had specified the wrong grade of aluminium probably the cheapest knowing how Ford like to cost-down components. I believe aircraft grade was eventually used.

        • My immediate thought was the Jaguar Venture Pressings plant at the GKN Sankey site in Telford. However, that closed in 1993, with pressings production moving to Halewood to use capacity there. I can’t see Jaguar using an aluminium pressings plant in the States since it would be too long/expensive a supply chain, especially shipment costs.

          BTW why does one of the styling models have a grille which looks like a Rover?

          • Pressings weren’t imported from the States. The sheet aluminium was – it came from a aluminium plant in Cleveland that Ford owned…..they couldn’t close it because of the current union contract, so they found work for it producing shhet that was shipped to the UK for Jaguar.

    • Used to drive me crazy that the cost-down teams would get all the praise for taking cost out of a vehicle (not just at JLR) but then would never have to account for themselves of increased warranty costs and loss of reputation 2 years or so later on.
      Take the plastic chain tensioners and plastic thermostat housing. Probably would have been cheaper overall to launch with metal items but no, the £/unit carried more importance than vehicle reliability and warranty costs.

  18. I am an old guy and do not know a lot about cars having worked as an engineer in another industry all my life. I have driven Mercedes, BMW, Audi and other great makes many times and when I went 4 years ago to buy some turf the gentleman farmer showed me his Daimler X350 he wanted to sell in order that he could buy an Aston Martin DB7. I came home with the turf and the Daimler. (Try explaining that to your wife) I do not care too much what it looks like because I do not see it much from the outside. I can tell you though that it is a beautiful and gorgeous car to drive certainly up there with the Bentleys and Rolls Royce cars. It is smooth, silent, cossetting, and a huge credit to its designers and engineers that designed and built it. It has every bit of equipment anyone could wish for and when parked on holiday in France has people milling around it when I get back. Congratulations Jaguar designers and Engineers, I do not know what your new cars are like because I cannot afford one but the X350 Daimler sitting on my short drive has one hundred and seventy thousand miles on it and when I see it I still smile. Everyone that travels in it says – what a beautiful car.

    • Yet after launch, We just couldn’t get people to look at the things. They hated the fat back end – forced on us by the DEW98 platform architecture. As a result, sales fell to less than half those of X308. It was a shame, the car was probably the best 4 door sedan in the world.

      • I find the discussions over the design really interesting. I’ve a 2006 XJ8 Sport and to me one of the highlights is the back end – the haunches over the wheels, the cathedral lights, and the classic Jag oval back screen. It harks back to the “4-door E-Type” prototype ( in my eyes!

        Where the exterior design struggles in my view is the roof looks too high over the rear seats, and the bonnet, although long, is a little stumpy from the outside. That said the interior headroom in the front isn’t great for anyone over 6 foot so I can only imagine what an X308 is like! The interior is great but let down by some cheap shiny plastic on the centre of the dash.

        I feel like the X350 is a bit of a transitionary car for JLR – the end of one era, but not quite the start of another. I find it a lot more appealing than its successor but ultimately it feels like the place of the XJ was taken by the L322-on Range Rover which started to be very Jag-like with the air suspension, AJ-V8 engines and increasingly plush interior and highly rated on-road dynamics. Both wonderful cars (and unmistakably British) but taking very different approaches to luxury!

      • Kev
        It didn’t use the Dew98 platform, as usual engineers use the basics of what they know and modify to suit. Why re-engineer what you don’t need too?
        So yes aspects of Dew98 were used unlike the LS/S type used the complete platform and S297 Mustang used the platform but with a modified rear suspension design to remove the independent suspension for a live unit to save a few bucks!.
        As for X350 being a failure based on design is harsh as the product segments went through a huge change towards the SUV, as for being to tall well we had to package 22 airbags in header and cattails/b pillars which certainly didn’t help, I agree those that worked on the development of X350 thought it not advanced enough design wise but now compared to its contemporaries it certainly holds its own and probably looks better!

  19. After Jaguar was bought by Ford in 1991, Ford wanted to ramp up production to 500,000 units a year. However they introduced a new management structure to do this. Included in this initiative was a Cost Down Team at Browns Lane that ultimately caused havoc with the warranty costs later in 2003.
    Jaguar’s warranty bill worldwide was £53 million compared with Landrover’s at £253 million in 2003.

    After the launch of X350 the major warranty cost as far as the electrical engineering department was concerned with was the Tyco connector issue that I was tasked wuth investigating. Enventually I proved it was Tyco’s issue with their crimped recepticals in the connectors supplied to Jaguar’s harness supplier. I saved Jaguar over half a million pounds in warranty costs towards the end of 2004.

    Phil Herbert
    ex- Plant Vehicle Team
    Jaguar Browns Lane

  20. As a long time Jaguar fan and having owned Series I, II, IIi, XJ40, XJ81, X300 and now X308, i was seriously looking at buying an X350, but speaking to my local specialist I was advised of certain issues to watch for that I didn’t fancy dealing with – electrics, suspension pumps and above all rot.
    I’m also uncomfortable with the lines as many have said, there are several flaws as I see it.
    The car is too tall – it’s lost that Jaguary sleekness.
    The rear is too fat and the bootlid too high.
    The front overhang is too short – the wheels need shoving back a few inches.
    The headlamps are too small.
    The bumpers are too bulbous and heavy looking, they weigh the car down.
    On the other hand, if the car is the right colour some of these faults are masked.
    I have an X308 3.2 XJ8. It’s black, with a mesh grille and Celtic alloys and looks gorgeously cool driving along.
    If I ever buy a 350 it’ll have to be a Supercharged V8 in the “right” colour – and that will be determined by my immediate impression on seeing it.
    For now I’m left thinking, was the X308 the last proper looking Jaaaagg?

    • I think the F-Type and Mk2 XF are both great looking cars. If “proper” means fluted bonnets, leapers and tons of chrome, then I’m out.

    • I own 2 X350 with 15,000 miles and the other with 32,000 miles, I would suggest you Drive a good example as it is way ahead of previous models.

  21. The new car was late and the old one was discontinued leaving Jaguar without an XJ for a year – Exactly the position they find themselves in today!

    • Reminds me of the stupidity of discontinuing the ‘classic’ Land Rover Defender, leaving a gap of years before its trendy hardly-a-Work-Utility-Vehicle replacement came along. But JLR has walked away from designing anything that might suggest buyers of their products might get their hands dirty, or break into a sweat, when at work. Just the wrong ‘image’, old boy.

      • Not sure they were stupid for that. The old Defender may have been loved by many but it cost a fortune to build, shared nothing with any other JLR product and nobody actually went out and bought it. Land Rover needed the space to increase production of cars that were in demand so it was probably a shrewd move.

      • I think JLR intend Land Rover to have a much more global (i.e more profitable) market than they had under Ford and this is the reason for the move to more premium vehicles, for the image they have abroad not utility or work trucks.

  22. I think the only car that competed with the X350 at launch was the W220 S-Class. BMW was cranking out the hideous “Bangle-butt” E65 and Lexus with the bloated W140… err… LS430.

  23. I had a 3 litre as a company car from new and loved the look of both the exterior and interior, but both my late husband and I tended to get backache after 100 miles. When I eventually retired we bought an XF diesel which we both found supremely comfortable and was terrific on many trips to south of France as well as being very economical despite our high speeds.

  24. To me, the X350 is the ultimate incarnation of XJ, and the last real one. Ian Callum’s nondescript X351 didn’t do anything to increase sales over the X350/X358, and nor could it, when it had no character, unlike every single one of its illustrious predecessors. The decline in XJ sales, as with all luxury saloons, is more down to fuel prices and the bizarre leap in popularity of the SUV over the saloon. I have had several Jaguars – most of them have been XJ models, but also an S-Type and an X-Type. My first car was a 1973 Series I XJ6 4.2L manual/overdrive, in which I learned to drive. I’ve had more than one XJ40, and an X300, as well as a couple of other good marques, like Mercedes. My current car is a 2004 XJ6 3.0L V6, and is without doubt the finest car I’ve ever owned, and indeed finer than anything on the current market, this side of a Bentley. I recognise that which cars we love or hate is a matter of personal taste, of course, but when I look at a lot of car designs of the last ten years or so, I can’t help despairing that some people don’t seem to have any.

  25. I think there’s a conceptual problem with the XJ starting with X350 and continuing today – Jaguar thinks they are competing with the S class. They’re not – that’s Range Rover territory. Jaguar should just forget about headroom and boot space and build a beautiful sleek Panamera competitor. It would be more true to their sporting heritage and carve out a niche

  26. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – I consider the X350 to be the best looking XJ since the Series III. The XJ40, X300, and X308 just didn’t have enough curves – they looked all too much like a slab of cheese on wheels; while the X300/308, at least, had a ridiculously long front overhang. They were also heavily criticized at the time for a lack of headroom.
    Hence, X350 was taller; and had that svelte “aluminium body” look about it. I can’t tell you why ally looks different to steel, but it does. I consider it carries the extra 5 inches in height extremely well; and is a very desirable looking car. Unlike the mess which followed it; which also had a very plasticky interior. That was the point at which I no longer dreamed of owning a new XJ.

  27. I bought a 2004 XJR in 2013. It had 166,000 miles on the clock and full service history. I kept the car until 2018 by which time it had done 208,000 miles. It was the best car I have ever owned and the best saloon car I have ever driven.

    You say the top speed is limited to 155mph. The use of the limiter is voluntary. If you hold the car down into 5th and press the sport button the limiter does not apply. A former Jaguar development engineer, who was a client of mine at the time, suggested that 175 to 180 was the true maximum.

  28. Probably the best saloon car ever made, even 13 years after it went out of production. My first, a 3.0 V6 was better in every respect than the V12 BMW which preceded it, and the 150,000 mile X358R which is my current everyday transport is twice the car; it is ridiculously quick, refined, reliable, and because it doesn’t depreciate, or go wrong, costs peanuts to run. I have got used to the looks, although I wasn’t convinced at first, more telling is the number of people who approach me in car parks to say “What a beautiful car.”.

  29. The last part to that report made me laugh out loud, the comment about the Range Rover becoming the new de facto Luxury car, is correct, yes, but the article goes on about how the retro look of the Jag did little to help it, ummm, the Range Rover is the same shape it has been since the very first one, and they rely on that to keep it selling, in fact the new Rangie coming soon, will be virtually unchanged visually to the current one, so the retro Rangie can be a success, but a retro Jag can not, why is this ? Retro is selling, with so many car companies now rebuilding older stuff, and small companies doing modern recreations, jaguar did the right thing with X350, the XF, was the start of NEW Jaguar, and that was then when the new XJ was the right car for the right era, the next XJ, does look good, a little retro in places, and futuristic in others, but is an XJ needed, yes, most certainly, there are NO EV cars in this class yet, Mercedes are developing the EQS, that will be good, no doubt, but the XJ will give the best of both…

    • IMHO The difference is that Range Rover invented the luxury SUV sector, Jaguar got into large luxury saloons decades after Benz. Prime Ministers drove Rovers.

      • Jaguar were making large luxury saloons before WW2, when they were known as SS Cars. Benz make taxis, Prime Ministers don’t drive, they are driven, for several decades now, in Jaguars.

        • The current Prime Minister’s car is a Range Rover.

          So back to being driven around in Solihull’s finest!

  30. I read in the paper that Tata and JLR will make Jaguar a non-IC electric only car brand by 2025, ie only 4 years away. is this another nail in the coffin of Jaguar Land Rover?

  31. The motoring journalist Steve Cropley has written JLR executives are in a lock down talks and there may be a big announcement to follow

  32. I understand JLR announced abandonment of the development project for the new XJ altogether. There is the hint they may start again from a clean sheet of paper but there is no guarantee of that. So, for the moment at least XJ is dead.

  33. The puzzle is Jaguar not taking the interim step of the IC hybrid vehicle, they are going from full-IC to full-EV in one step, the 2000 job losses announcement must include those unfortunate to be the IC engines and gearbox ( power train) engineers. where will Jaguar acquire the high-tech EV motors? Tesla deve4oped their own and is considered to be best available for efficiency

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