2005 Jaguar X-Type Review


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THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Jaguar

SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL: 2005 Jaguar X-Type (sedan and Sportwagon)
ENGINE: 3.0-liter DOHC V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 227 hp @ 6,800 rpm/206 lb.-ft. @ 3,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway (sedan)/ 18/24 mpg (Sportwagon)
WHEELBASE: 106.7 in
LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT: 183.8 x 70.4 x 56.7 in. (sedan)/ 185.5 x 70.4 x 58.4 in (Sportwagon)
CARGO VOLUME: 16.0 cu. ft. (Sedan)/ 50.0 cu. ft. (max) (Sportwagon)
STICKER PRICE: $37,000-$40,000

When the original Jaguar X-Type was introduced in 2001, it set a precedent for Jag. Like the sporty S-Type, the X-Type is compact. It's classified as a compact car but I would rate it more as a mid-size, if a small one. It also has full-time all-wheel drive, something else unique for Jag. AWD offers not only better traction in slippery conditions, but it's also handy in performance driving, offering better control and less tendency to drift or spin.

Since its introduction, the X has become Jaguar's most popular car. For 2005, Jaguar is expending the range from two cars to four. Actually, the range is growing because the base 2.5-liter model has been discontinued, at least in the US, to offer a more premium mix.

The X range now includes the base model, which is powered by a 3.0-liter DOHC V6 rated at 227 horsepower. There's a Sport version that has body "enhancements" such as front and rear lower spoilers and a rear deck lid spoiler, as well as a black mesh radiator grille. The X-Type VDP (for Van den Plas) is more luxurious, with burl walnut trim, heated (front) leather seats, and rain-sensing wipers.

The all-new X though is the Sportwagon. This is the first production wagon ever offered by Jaguar. Jag is quick to note that several bespoke body companies made "shooting brakes" out of Jaguars in the past, but this is a whole new animal. As program manager Jeff Key noted, the Sportwagon is "more than a box tacked on to the sedan." There are 420 new tooled parts and 58 new body stampings. With a new acoustical package, the Sportwagon is as quiet as the sedan, which is an anomaly.

The Sportwagon is a completely new design and it will compete against the BMW 325xi Sports Wagon, the Mercedes-Benz C240 Luxury Wagon 4Matic, and the Audi A4 3.0 Avant Quattro, among others. The target customer is one with an active lifestyle who demands the versatility of a wagon and the luxury of a Jaguar.

With the same engine and transmission combinations (we drove the 5-speed automatic, but a 5-speed manual is also available), the Sportwagon isn't all that different from the Sport when you're behind the wheel. In fact, it's hard to tell the difference between the cars when you're behind the wheel. The view from the front is almost identical (the roof rails give the Sportwagon away), but from the rear the Sportwagon looks more like a Toyota than a Jaguar. I think it's the taillights. The added weight in the rear does help balance a bit, but that would only have a serious effect in hard driving. Since we drove the car in wet, rainy weather with a touch of snow thrown in (despite the Palm Springs, California, base of operations for the intro, we didn't get much of a chance to try it in hard driving. The rare instances when the road was dry though, we did try to air it out a bit.

When the X was introduced; it was touted as Jaguar's first V6 engine. It still has all the Jaguar attributes - double overhead camshafts, lots of torque, and a great sound. It's just two cylinders shorter than what we'd come to love in the XK8 and XJ sedans. We only had to punch the accelerator to change a relatively docile engine into a roaring cat that pushes you in the seat of the pants as you pick up the pace. Because of the less-than-ideal test conditions, we didn't use the "manual" side of Jaguar's famed "J-Gate" for more sporty

Handling of the Sportwagon is very good. The performance suspension is compliant, so that it corners relatively flat but is still soft enough for a comfortable ride. Also, with a wagon, you don't want any objects you may have stored in the back to go sailing around or be jostled too hard with a rock-hard suspension.

The Sport version seemed a bit stiffer, but it still wasn't uncomfortable. The VDP is more like the new base sedan and the Sportwagon, so it was slightly softer.

There are chromed luggage tie-downs in the cargo compartment that facilitate keeping things from sailing around. Jaguar also has included a shade to not only hide what you have stowed, but also keep it from flying forward in panic stops. In addition, there's storage below the flat cargo floor (with a 12-volt power supply) and in side pockets. Cargo volumes are 15.7 cubic feet with the rear seat up and packed to the level of the seat, 24.2 cubic feet packed to the ceiling, and 50.0 cubic feet with the rear seat folded and packed to the rafters.

It's possible to open either the rear glass or tailgate or both from the key fob. With both open and raised, it looks weird, but it gives good access to the cargo area. Twin gas struts hold the tail assembly up.

Rear-seat legroom isn't in what I would call the compact class. It is possible for a 6-footer to find comfort in the rear. But the X is also designed for families, so the rear will probably be used more by children.

The X-Type's success has brought new customers to Jaguar, and many have traded up the line to the XJ. One reason for the success is Jaguar's new quality initiative. The company is now ranked in the top among European manufacturers in J.D. Power surveys. The X has also improved 32 percent in initial quality since its intro, according to JDP.

Base prices vary from $31,495 for the base car, to $34,995 for a well-equipped base, to $36,695 for the Sport, to $36,995 for the Sportwagon, to$37,945 for the VDP. Oddly, all four cars we tested (two wagons, a Sport and a VDP) carried sticker prices between $37,500 and $39,000.

I generally like the X-Type styling because it's a more compact version of the XJ big sedan. I tend to prefer the Y-Type's styling because it resembles the Jag sedan I owned in the 1960s, so a slight prejudice must be factored in. I think the wagon is a knockout and should prove to be popular.

2005 The Auto Page Syndicate

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