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Review and photos by Russell Purcell
More refinement, better price
When Jaguar introduced their new small car, the X-Type, in 2002, parent company Ford Motor Company had two goals: reach out to a broader, younger generation of buyers with a more affordable entry-level luxury car; and increase Jaguar sales and profits.
Strong competition from fellow all-wheel-drive models like Audi’s venerable A4, BMW’s 3-Series X cars, Volvo’s S60 AWD, Mercedes-Benz C320 4Matic, and now Infiniti’s G35X, has provided stiff competition for the X-Type. So for the 2004 model year, Jaguar has combined aggressive marketing, a substantial price reduction for the 3.0-litre model (reduced from $48,195 to $44,995), and a longer list of standard equipment – including a power moon roof, wood-trimmed steering wheel and automatic headlights – to make the car more attractive to first-time luxury buyers or baby-boomers looking to downsize.
The less powerful X-Type 2.5 is held at 2003 pricing ($41,195), but as with its big brother, equipment packaging is improved. As well, there’s a new wagon variant available in both 2.5 and 3.0-litre models.
The ordering process has been streamlined as well with a trio of option packages (sport, premium and luxury) designed to streamline the car buying decision.
The X-Type is a luxury sedan that to many observers, appears to be a small-scale XJ, especially when viewed from a distance. I think this is a positive thing as the major styling cues of the legendary XJ series of cars have held up for four decades, and are responsible for keeping the cars in vogue. The X-Type’s rounded waistline and sexy curves hint at Jaguars from the past, while modern elements like a capable all-wheel-drive system, ABS brakes and a plethora of airbags bring modern safety elements to the party. Sumptuous Connolly leather seats, Sapele wood trim pieces and British Racing Green gauges add to the Jaguar charm, but it is the tapered tail, distinctive hood ripples and the leaping Jaguar hood sculpture that will ensure that no one will mistake this car for anything but a Jaguar.
The car itself appears to be much bigger than it actually is as the side profile is long and lean. The rounded waist, subtle fender flares and big wheels help give the car a more aggressive look. Up front Jaguar’s trademark horizontal split grille is framed by a pair of round headlamps on each side, and sports an elaborate Jaguar ‘growler’ logo (which also appears on the steering wheel, wheel caps and on the trunk release button) to further echo the manufacturer’s heritage.
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Jaguar offers two models, largely differentiated by their engine displacement, available in either sedan or wagon form: the X-Type 2.5-litre with a 194-horsepower V6 and the X-Type 3.0-litre with a 231-horsepower V6. Both models come fitted with a long list of standard equipment ranging from the aforementioned leather-trimmed seating surfaces and wood trim, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel and automatic climate control (complete with pollen filter). An 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat compliments the other power accessories, including ‘one-touch’ power windows all around, electro-chromic mirror, power side mirrors and remote door locks. An excellent 120-watt, AM/FM/CD system with six matched speakers is also standard fare, but gone is the tape player. The leather-wrapped steering wheel comes outfitted with onboard controls for the stereo as well as cruise control. The ‘Traction 4′ full-time all-wheel-drive system is also standard on both models, and still represents the first time the company has fitted one of its cars with a four-wheel drive system.
The 2.5-litre X-Type comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but a five-speed automatic is available as an option. Buyers of the 3.0-litre model can choose either transmission with no-cost penalty incurred for those selecting the slush-box.
A trio of options
Jaguar offers three distinct option packages for the X-Type – Premium, Sport and Weather – in an effort to meet, and in some cases, beat, the competition in this very competitive segment.
The X1 Premium package ($1,700) is the most popular, as it is bundled to cater to the traditional Jaguar buyer. This package adds 3-position memory driver’s seat and exterior mirrors, power adjustment capabilities to the front passenger seat, and 2-way power lumbar supports for both front seats. Advanced safety equipment including rain-sensing wipers, an electro-chromic mirror, and a reverse parking assist system. A combination trip computer/message centre, Homelink and pre-wire for voice activation ‘JaguarVoice’ complete this package. A handful of individual selections can be added to this group and include an in-dash, DVD-based navigation unit, a trunk-mounted 6-disc CD changer and high-intensity headlamp units.
Enthusiasts will want to order the X2 Sport package ($5,000) which can only be had in combination with the Premium package. A sport-tuned suspension, Xenon HID headlamps, Dynamic Stability Control and 18-inch ‘Aruba’ alloy wheels with more aggressive tires make up the meat of this package, although a few appearance tweaks are also on tap. The wood trim takes on a grey-ish tone, exterior trim (grille surround, rear plinth, bumper blades) becomes body-coloured, the window trim is blacked out and a subtle rear wing completes the look. The front seats get extra side bolstering to hold you in place during more spirited driving manoeuvres, or while bopping along to the music emitted from the 320-watt Premium sound system.
The third option package is the X3 Weather package ($1,000), which will be high on the wish list for those buyers planning to use their X-Type to get the family to the ski hill in the winter. Heated front seats with two temperature settings, a heated windshield, and headlight washers (with heated jets) make up the elements of this package.
Popular stand alone options include 18″ BBS wheels, Xenon headlamps with automatic levelling, an up-rated Alpine sound system and the same company’s DVD-based navigation system.
The X-Type benefits from an incredibly rigid body structure, giving the car excellent road manners and very responsive handling. I spent a couple days exploring some of my favourite back roads in my test vehicle and came away impressed with how the car handled corners and dips, as well as irregular road surfaces. Body roll is minimal as the low ride stance and centre-of-gravity (aided by the extra weight of the all-wheel-drive) helps the X-Type cut smooth corners, one after the other. Even while fitted with an all-season (albeit high-performance) tire, the X-Type’s handling remained crisp.
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Jaguar’s Traction 4 all-wheel-drive system (which splits torque so that 40 percent is directed to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear) works overtime in wet and slippery conditions to keep the car shiny side up. It operates without driver interference, and helped keep the car tracking exactly where I pointed it, zipping confidently through tight corners with just a hint of under-steer. This, along with the confident ABS-brakes, left me with full confidence in the all-weather capabilities of this sleek cat.
My test unit also came with Dynamic Stability Control; a traction system designed to reduce the chance of losing control or spinning out when cornering fast or faced with slippery road surfaces. More advanced drivers can switch the system off if they want to test their limits, but the system will reactivate when the car is re-started.
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The 3.0-litre V6 has plenty of pulling power but torque is most evident at launch. While not as smooth in delivery as in some of its rivals, the car’s power is readily available when needed. The throaty growl emitted from the sport-tuned exhaust was music to my ears, and is very distinctive.
My test vehicle was equipped with the five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission featuring Jaguar’s trademark J-gate. The driver can choose to select Drive and let the car do all the work, or operate the lever like a pseudo-manual when things get sporty. It takes a while to get used to the gear selection process as there is very little resistance at each stop, making it easy to overshoot the desired gear if you are not careful. The setup requires more thought than similar concepts in rival machinery, which usually just have an up-down or side-to-side motion to move from gear to gear.
At the touch of a console-mounted button the transmission can be placed in ‘sport’ mode, which alters the transmission’s shift points to make better use of the engine’s broad power band. While this set-up was fun, I would love to try this car with the manual transmission. Buyers that wish to take full advantage of the X-Type’s performance potential would be well-advised to order the five-speed manual.
In the driver’s seat, the cabin feels very spacious as large windows and slim roof pillars combine to offer outstanding visibility. The driver’s seat offers 8-way adjustability, so finding your optimal driving position is easy unless you happen to be taller than about 6’2″, which just so happens to be my height. Even with the seat set at its lowest setting, the top of my cap just brushed the headliner. I did however find all the gauges, switches and controls easy to both see and use, and handy speed and audio controls are fitted to the 4-spoke steering wheel.
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While not overly generous, I did find myself very comfortable in the X-Type, as long as I was in one of the front seats. There is a real cockpit feel, as your legs disappear under the dash and the long centre console slips between the front seats, making the instruments seem to wrap around you. However, once I slid into the rear passenger compartment I realized this space is best reserved for smaller individuals. The sloping roofline that gives the car its classic good looks unfortunately makes it difficult for taller passengers to get comfortable while in the backseat. Over the course of my test week it became apparent that individuals shorter than 5’10″ will be most comfortable in the rear compartment.
The X-Type features a large glove-box, door cubbies and a small storage compartment hidden beneath the centre armrest. The X-Type’s voluminous trunk offers 16-cubic feet of cargo space which can be stretched to accommodate larger loads by utilizing its folding 70/30 split rear seats. A full-size spare with matching alloy wheel resides deep in the trunk well, an unexpected feature in a car of this class.
Amazing structural rigidity as well as large four-wheel disc brakes with advanced ABS capabilities represents a good first defence in the safety arena, but the addition of the Traction 4 system and available Dynamic Stability Control should help keep things under control. In the event of an impact, dual-stage frontal airbags are supplemented by front and rear side curtain airbags, protecting occupants from broken glass and flying debris.
The X-Type is an excellent choice for the style-conscious young executive or couple who want to stand out in the crowd, free from the cookie-cutter designs currently offered by most of Jaguar’s competitors. Buyers looking for a little more space can opt for the newly released wagon, unquestionably one of the coolest family haulers around. All X-Type models offer an elegant design with classic Jaguar style, the benefits of all-wheel-drive, and all the modern amenities and safety systems you expect in a luxury automobile.
Technical Data: 2004 Jaguar X-Type 3.0
|Options||$ 5,500 (Premium Package $1,700, Weather Package $1,000, Premium Sound $1,000, DSC $1,000, Metallic Paint $800)|
|Price as tested||$51,590|
|Type||4-door, 5-passenger entry-luxury sedan|
|Layout||transverse front engine/all-wheel-drive|
|Engine||3.0-litre V6, DOHC, variable valve timing and variable intake system|
|Horsepower||227 @ 6,800 rpm|
|Torque||210 lb.-ft @ 3,000 rpm|
|Transmission||5-speed automatic (std. 5-speed manual)|
|Curb weight||1,595 kg (3516 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||2,710 mm (106.7 in.)|
|Length||4,672 mm (183.9 in.)|
|Width||1,789 mm (70.4 in.)|
|Height||1,392 mm (54.8 in.)|
|Cargo volume||452 litres (16 cu. ft.)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 12.5 L/100 km (23 mpg)|
|Hwy: 8.3 L/100 km (34 mpg)|
|Warranty||4 yrs / 80,000 km|