2003 Jaguar X-Type
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Story and photos by Russell Purcell

Modern Classic

The X-Type represents parent company Ford’s desire to increase Jaguar production (in an effort to make the revamped company profitable), as well as to reach out to the younger generation of consumers to whom the company’s other models seemed either too staid or too expensive.

X-Type Styling

2003 Jaguar X-Type
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The X-Type is a mid-size luxury sedan, seemingly drawn from the same design sheets that brought us its big sister the S-Type, but with major cues derived from the legendary XJ series of cars. This is a good thing, as its 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, walnut 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 to further echo the manufacturer’s heritage. In fact, the same logo makes an appearance on the steering wheel, as the push button release on the trunk, and on all four wheels. Okay, I get it already. This is a Jaguar.

Model Lineup

Jaguar offers two models: the X-Type 2.5-litre with a 194-horsepower V6 ($41,195) and the X-Type 3.0-litre with a 227-horsepower V6 ($48,195). 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. A power adjustable driver’s seat compliments the other power accessories, including ‘one-touch’ power windows all around, power mirrors and door locks. The Traction 4 full-time all-wheel-drive system is also standard on both models, and 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.

Bundles of goodies

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.

2003 Jaguar X-Type
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The Premium package ($1,300) is bundled to cater to the traditional Jaguar buyer, the executive with a taste for luxury and the finer things in life. This package adds a one-touch power moon-roof, power adjustment capabilities to the front passenger seat, and power lumbar supports for both front seats. Advanced safety equipment including rain-sensing wipers, an electro-chromic mirror, automatic headlights and a reverse parking assist system add to the convenience of the X-Type. A combination trip computer / message centre, Homelink and a 70/30 split folding rear seat 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.

Behind door #2 we have the Sport package ($2,000) which can only be had in combination with the Premium package. A sport-tuned suspension, Dynamic Stability Control and 17-inch alloy wheels with more aggressive tires make up the meat of this package, although a few appearance tweaks are also on tap. The bird’s-eye maple takes on a grayish tone, exterior trim becomes body-coloured, and a rear spoiler takes flight on the trunk. The front seats also grow wings as extra side bolstering acts to hold you in place during more spirited driving maneuvers.

The third option package is the 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, headlight washers, and Jaguar’s capable Dynamic Stability Control make up the elements of this package.

Confident Handling

2003 Jaguar X-Type
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The X-Type benefits from an incredibly rigid structure, making this cat very fleet of foot. My test vehicle was slightly hindered in this department as it had yet to have its winter tires replaced, but even with the rubber boots, the car handled corners with aplomb. Body roll was minimal, as the low ride stance and centre-of-gravity (aided by the extra weight of the all-wheel-drive) helped the X-Type cut smooth corners. A high-performance all-season tire or a dedicated summer gummy would only make the handling crisper.

I had the chance to get to know the X-Type during a period plagued with spring showers, and I must admit, Jaguar’s Traction 4 all-wheel-drive system kept the car exactly where I wanted it, tracking 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 capabilities of the Jaguar’s package.

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.


2003 Jaguar X-Type
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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. 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.

On the inside

2003 Jaguar X-Type

2003 Jaguar X-Type
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The passenger cabin feels very spacious as large windows and slim roof pillars combine to offer outstanding visibility. The driver’s seat offer 8-way adjustability, so finding the optimal driving position is easy unless you stand taller than about 6’2. All gauges, switches and controls are easy to both see and use, and I would highly recommend the optional 3-spoke steering wheel fitted with audio controls.

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. However, once I slid into the rear passenger compartment I realized this space is best reserved for smaller individuals. I stand 6’2″ tall, and due to the sloping roofline I needed to duck forward to get comfortable while in the backseat. Leaning back wasn’t an option for me as the front seat backs hampered my legs. Based on the feedback I got from my various passengers, it appears that 5’10” is about the upper limit for the rear compartment.

A large glove-box, several door cubbies and a small storage compartment beneath the centre armrest allow you to stow your smaller items, but there is only one cup holder. The X-Type’s voluminous trunk offers 16 cubic feet of cargo space (that’s two more than that offered in the larger S-Type!) and both rear seats can be folded if larger loads need to be carried. A full-size spare with matching alloy wheel resides deep in the trunk well, an unexpected feature in a car of this class.

Safety first

Amazing structural rigidity as well as large four-wheel disc brakes with advanced ABS capabilities represents a good first defense 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, another first for a Jaguar model.

The verdict

2003 Jaguar X-Type
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The X-Type is an excellent alternative to the waves of Audis, BMW, Volkswagens and Volvos that seem to populate the highways and parking lots of the Canadian landscape, not to mention the endless parade of Japanese entries that compete for your attention in this category. It represents an elegant design with classic Jaguar style, albeit with the benefits of all-wheel-drive and all the modern bells and whistles. Its convenient size, sensible option packages and a competitive pricing structure makes the X-Type worth a long, hard look.

Technical Data: 2003 Jaguar X-Type 3.0

Base price $48,195
Price as tested $54,995
Type 4-door, 5-passenger entry-luxury sedan
Layout transverse-mounted V6, 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 manual or 5-speed automatic
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.)
Trunk space 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

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