Overview

The Jaguar X-Type is elegant, comfortable, and fun to drive. It represents a low cost of entry for a Jaguar and a strong value in this highly competitive class. It also gives its owner the distinction of driving a Jag. Yet this entry-level Jag offers something no other Jaguar has: the benefits of full-time all-wheel drive. That makes the X-Type a good choice for rain, snow and ice, and indeed it feels very secure in those conditions.

A new Jaguar Sportwagon has joined the X-Type line for 2005. Already popular in Europe this estate car, as it's called there, offers great cargo carrying capacity while maintaining Jaguar's unique style. It includes a tailgate with independently opening rear window, luggage tie-downs, removable luggage cover and cargo net. It also includes a neat hidden cargo compartment under the rear floor with a 12-volt power outlet.

The X-Type competes with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and other near-luxury cars. The performance of the Jaguar compares favorably to these cars, while offering a distinct difference in feel and temperament. The Jaguar X-Type is a good alternative to these superb luxury sedans and its quality has improved considerably since it was first introduced, thanks to continuous improvements made by Ford at the factory in the U.K. As with the other cars in its class, the X-Type is smaller in size, making it easier to park and maneuver.

The X-Type looks unmistakably like a Jaguar, and that's no small design feat given its relatively compact dimensions. Better still, the X-Type smells and feels like a Jaguar, with all the traditional British ingredients that have defined the brand for seven decades.

Model Lineup

Jaguar has revised the X-Type line up for 2005 by naming models separately rather than just adding optional packages to the basic sedan. Officially Jaguar has dropped the base 2.5 model although some were sold during the first few months of the model year. There are now three sedan models in the lineup and the all-new Sportwagon. All four models are powered by the same 227-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 and include all-wheel-drive as standard.

All X-Type models come with standard equipment expected of a Jaguar: leather-trimmed seating, glossy wood trim (except for the Sport), power windows, mirrors, door locks and driver's seat. All X-Types are also equipped with automatic climate control, remote locking, an auto-dimming interior mirror, tilt/telescope steering wheel and heated door mirrors and windshield washers.

The most popular model is the X-Type 3.0 ($34,330), which comes standard with with a five-speed automatic, 17-inch wheels, moonroof, 70/30 split rear seats and a wood/leather steering wheel.

However, there is a an X-Type 3.0 available with a manual five-speed transmission ($30,830). It's in limited supply as few people want a X-Type with a manual transmission. It lacks a moonroof, 70/30 split rear seats and a wood/leather steering wheel, items that are standard on all other models. It also comes with smaller 16-inch wheels.

The X-Type Sport ($37,280) offers more than last year's Sport package as it includes a black mesh grille, a deeper front spoiler and lower side sills as well as a rear spoiler. It has a sport-tuned suspension with 18-inch Melbourne BBS two-piece wheels with Pirelli P Zero high-performance tires. Although there is no increase in engine performance the 3.0 Sport includes Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Emergency Brake Assist. Inside the Sport includes a full leather steering wheel and sport seats with perforated leather center sections. Carbon fiber trim fascia and gear surround with sporty Alcantara seating surfaces and door panels is offered as an option ($450) on the Sport. It comes with a five-speed automatic. A five-speed manual transmission is available as a no-cost option.

An optional ($1,150) Premium Package is offered for the 3.0 and 3.0 Sport that includes 10-way power driver and front-passenger seats, Homelink-compatible programmable garage door opener, multi-function message center, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and memory function on driver's seat and door mirrors. Also available as an option ($1,275) for these two models is a 320-watt Alpine Premium Sound system with ten speakers in place of the regular 120-watt system.

The new X-Type 3.0 VDP Edition ($38,080) delivers Jaguar's traditionally high level of luxury, starting with more expansively applied exterior chrome, contrasting piping on the seats, burl walnut wood trim and 17x7 10-spoke Andros wheels. It includes Reverse Park Control to warn the driver of hidden obstacles, heated front seats, the 320-watt Alpine Premium stereo system with ten speakers and an in-dash CD change. The VDP also includes the contents of the Premium Package that's optional on the lesser models.

The 3.0 Sportwagon ($36,330) is equipped similarly to the sedan.

Options for X-Type models include heated seats ($500), Reverse Park Control ($325), DSC ($525) and Xenon headlights ($675). The GPS navigation system ($2,300) includes a seven-inch touch-screen that also provides control for the audio and climate systems and allows subscription to the JaguarNet emergency communication and tracking system.

Safety features on all models include curtain-style head protection airbags for front and rear passenger, dual-stage frontal airbags and front side-impact airbags managed by a sophisticated sensor system. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), pre-tensioning front safety belts with load-limiters and three-point belts for all seats are also standard.

Walkaround

In the eyes of many the X-Type looks more like the flagship XJ sedan than the mid-size S-Type. It's clearly a Jaguar which is essential in Jaguar's attempt to widen the appeal of the well loved oh-so British line of luxury cars. It's just as well as ever since Ford took over Jaguar, purists have been scrutinizing every move the company makes in an effort to turn up some evidence of "Fording down" the illustrious British marque.

Because the X-Type has a common ancestry with Ford of Europe's front-wheel-drive Mondeo, Jaguar endowed the X-Type with all-wheel drive as a standard feature. This helps set it apart from most other near-luxury models where such a feature is optional, and usually only offered on a handful of models.

The X-Type is some 7 inches shorter than the S-Type. So the challenge facing the X-Type designers was to make a relatively short car look low and long. They did it using lots of horizontal lines, body sculpting and a high-tailed wedge shape, though the wedge is more obvious in photographs than in person. The illusion is generally successful and the X-Type looks bigger on the road than its dimensions suggest.

The design of the grille and headlamps, with fluting that sweeps back over the hood, make the X-Type look like a baby XJ. The front view is broadened with two sets of side-by-side round lights flanking Jaguar's traditional horizontal split grille. This makes it look more conservative than the S-Type, which features a unique round grille. Riding the hood of the X-Type is the traditional bounding Jaguar known as the bonnet leaper.

The Sportwagon is identical to the sedan up to the B-pillar. From there back it has different side doors and obviously a longer side profile. Its overall length is less than two inches longer than the sedan so there is little extra overhang in the rear. The tailgate slopes forward, appropriately giving it a sleeker look than most station wagons. The roof rails add just over an inch to the height of the vehicle.

As one has come to expect, the overall visual stance of the X-Type is not affected by the all-wheel-drive system. X-Type models now proudly carry an "AWD" badge on the trunk.

All in all, this is a ground-loving vehicle that makes the eye believe it is longer and lower than it is, and bigger as well. What at first blush seems to be busy-ness about the indents, horizontal lines and visual cues of Jaguarness fades with on-going exposure, evolving into acceptance and even appreciation. Anyway, the car looks better on the road than it does in pictures, or even in the showroom.

Interior Features

The X-Type is a real Jag on the inside, too. Jaguar's leather and wood are done as well as they were in the days when those luxury touches were not added to every model on the road.

The standard seats are quite good, supportive and comfortable, and they can be adjusted every which way. Aggressive side bolstering is added with the Sport model, which is appropriate for more aggressive driving. Side bolstering requires more effort when getting in and out of the seat, however, so the Sport package is best left for those who love spirited roadwork. We had no trouble flinging the car around with the standard seats.

The cabin has a spacious feel, and outward visibility is enhanced by the slimness of the roof pillars. With the elevation of the driver's seat easily adjustable, drivers of varying heights have an excellent forward view over the hood. The outside mirrors are particularly generous in size, a welcome safety feature at a time when the mirrors on some of the German cars (Mercedes, for example) are getting smaller.

All the switchgear operates intuitively. The silky appeal of Jaguars has made them a favorite with women, and the woman buyer figured early in planning the ergonomics of the X-Type. While there is no evident feminization, this thinking is obvious in controls that fall within easy reach and a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, allowing her to adjust perfectly to the car. Good ergonomics know no gender, however, and the X-Type adjusts to men quite swimmingly. People of all body types will find a comfortable home in the X-Type.

Lots of stowage inside the X-Type adds to the convenience. The doors have a handy tray near the door handle, as well as a large main pocket. There are dozens of nooks to stow phones, cassettes, CDs, pens, maps or tissues, even ice scrapers and an umbrella. There's even a retractable hook in the glovebox release to hold a handbag, small shopping bag or take-out. The center console is small, however, and there is only one cupholder.

The design of the X-Type isn't all about style. The sedan's trunk is big, something that can't be said for all Jaguars. With 16 cubic feet of cargo space, the X-Type beats the impressive trunk on the Audi A4 (13.4 cubic feet) and the relatively dinky boots in the Mercedes C-Class (12.2) and BMW 3 Series (10.7) sedans. Further, if you pull one or both of the small handles in the X-Type trunk you can easily flip the rear seats forward for carrying longer items. That makes this a practical Jaguar.

Even more practical is the Sportwagon. With the seats folded down it boasts a cargo capacity of 50 cubic feet, which puts it ahead of the BMW 3 Series Wagon, Audi A4 Avant or Mercedes-Benz C-Class wagon. All four are pretty close in capacity with the seats up. However the official dimensions do not include the very useful hidden storage area under the rear floor which can be used to store cameras and other valuables in a molded compartment with dividers. Even more forward looking is the 12-volt outlet in the compartment. It allows recharging of a laptop computer or digital camera while totally hidden from prying eyes. The Sportwagon offers an inch more rear-seat headroom than the sedan does.

Driving Impressions

When it was introduced, the Jaguar X-Type set new standards for rigidity of structure. A rigid structure translates into a car that can be tuned to ride smoothly and quietly while cornering like a cat. Our first experience with the X-Type bore this out and was confirmed in the 2005 X-Type Sportwagon.

We've driven the X-Type down winding rural roads near Dijon, France, over mountain roads in north Georgia, and around the high-speed banked oval of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The X-Type was the epitome of stability and confidence in the high-speed sections. Yet it rode smoothly on the streets of Atlanta.

The narrow, high-crowned pavement in France follows the wandering ways of long-ago farm animals over varied terrain. When polished by rain, it becomes a driver's challenge. The dampness was simply erased by the all-wheel-drive system, which offered comforting security. On the French roads, the X-Type seemed to rise to every challenge. Whether on a major highway or winding back road, it always felt smooth and stable. The steering was sharp and precise, and the car feels nimble in corners yet secure at speed.

To further explore the handling, we took the X-Type onto a tight handling course near Atlanta. A corner flooded with water showed off the advantage of the Sport model's tuned suspension; the high-performance Pirelli P Zero tires provided better grip in the wet than the standard, narrower Continental ContiSport Contact tires, greatly reducing understeer (the tendency of the car to push out toward the outside of a turn when the front tires lose grip). The Sport also seemed to offer quicker response, though it wasn't a huge difference. In any case, ride quality doesn't seem to suffer with the Sport package and we liked the way the sports seats kept us in place when whipping through slaloms and chicanes.

That flooded curve also helped demonstrate the value of Jaguar's Traction 4 all-wheel-drive system. The system incorporates a center differential and viscous coupling to split the torque 40 percent to the front wheels, 60 percent to the rear. Slippage at either set of wheels will send more power to the opposite end of the car. The viscous coupling automatically and transparently transfers power away from slipping wheels to those with the best traction, helping to keep the X-Type moving forward and tracking true no matter the conditions underneath. In short, the X-Type performs well in the wet and we presume it handles well on snow and ice.

The optional Dynamic Stability Control system can help a driver maintain control in an emergency handling situation. DSC controls skidding by applying the brakes at selected wheels, something no driver can do. It can help the driver avoid an accident. It reduces the chance of spinning out. We found it makes the car easier to drive at the limit of the tires. It reduced yawing when charging too fast through a slalom. DSC can be switched off for those rare times when the driver feels it's too intrusive, as when we drove the S-Type on a closed course at Atlanta Motor Speedway to test its limits. By default, the system switches back on every time the car is re-started. It's packaged with Brake Assist, which aids the driver in a panic stop by maintaining full braking even if the driver makes the mistake of relaxing pressure on the brake pedal. In short, this package is a smart safety option. Get it.

The X-Type feels equally comfortable on the highway and in fast, sweeping turns. It was supremely stable at 120 mph on Atlanta Motor Speedway's back straight and felt confident turning in for the banked turns at that speed. It was easy to drive flat out through the facility's infield road racing circuit. The well-controlled suspension and the all-wheel drive add to the X-Type's confident feel when driving at the limit. The X-Type offers predictable handling when pushing its tires beyond their limits, something that can happen at much lower speeds wh

Summary

Jaguar's X-Type stacks up nicely by virtually any measure, from design to style to space to performance. If it gives up a tick to class leaders in specific areas, it compensates with the elegance only Jaguar can deliver. When you consider all-wheel drive comes standard on all X-Type models, pricing makes them a compelling alternative to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class.

New Car Test Drive correspondent John Rettie filed this report from Palm Springs, California, with Denise McCluggage in Dijon, France, and Mitch McCullough in Atlanta.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
$30,830
Model lineup:
Jaguar X-Type 3.0 ($30,830); 3.0 Sport ($37,280); 3.0 VDP Edition ($38,080); 3.0 Sportwagon ($36,330)
Engines:
227-hp 3.0-liter V6
Transmissions:
5-speed manual; 5-speed automatic with J-Gate
Safety equipment (Standard):
dual-stage front-passenger airbags; front side-impact airbags; front and rear curtain-style head protection airbags; three-point rear seat belts; all-wheel drive; four-channel ABS
Safety equipment (Optional):
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC); Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
Basic warranty:
4 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in:
Merseyside, United Kingdom
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSRP):
Jaguar X-Type 3.0 Sportwagon ($36,330)
Standard equipment:
automatic climate control with pollen filter, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, power windows with one-touch operation, eight-way power driver's seat, four-way manual passenger seat, power moonroof, leather-trimmed seats, wood and leather steering wheel, center console with sliding armrest, Sapele wood trim, floor mats front and rear, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, Bluetooth phone and CD changer wiring, speed control, 120-watt radio/cassette, antenna integrated into rear window, heated windshield washer jets, power heated mirrors, front and rear fog lamps, automatic headlamps, 70/30 split folding rear seat, 17-inch alloy wheels
Options as tested:
none
Destination charge:
665
Gas Guzzler Tax:
N/A
Price as tested (MSRP)
$36,995
Layout:
all-wheel drive
Engine:
3.0-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm):
227 @ 6800
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):
206 @ 3000
Transmission:
5-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:
18/24 mpg.
Wheelbase:
106.7 in.
Length/width/height:
185.6/70.4/58.4 in.
Track, f/r:
59.9/60.5 in.
Turning circle:
35.7 ft.
Seating capacity:
5
Head/hip/leg room, f:
37.3/54.5/42.4 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:
38.5/53.7/34.4 in.
Cargo volume:
N/A
Payload:
N/A
Towing capacity:
N/A
Suspension F:
independent McPherson strut
Suspension R:
independent torsion control link
Ground clearance:
6.1 in.
Curb weight:
3761 lbs.
Tires:
225/45HR17 all season
Brakes, f/r:
vented disc/vented discs with ABS and EBD in.
Fuel capacity:
16 gal.
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