I will confess
being skeptic when I first heard that Jaguar was going to jump into
the ultra competitive compact saloon market and go head to head
with BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Audi. Like many enthusiasts, the thought
of Jaguar elegance being squeezed in a shorter car was not something
I thought Jaguar designers could pull.
I was wrong... They did
it and after test driving an X-Type for the first time, I also realized
that they built a pretty good car under that good looking body. The
fact the X-type starts as low as $ 29 950 should be enough to cause
at least some concerns among automobile executive on the other side
of the Rhine...
When I got to Alpine
Jaguar of Ft Lauderdale and told my sales consultant Larry that I
wanted to test drive an X-type, he knowingly asked me "which
one, a 3 liters ?" I declined and told him I wanted to
drive the basic 2.5 liter stick shift no options no frills $
29 950 car and he pointed out to a Platinum Silver demonstrator parked
outside. He also said that he'd keep my XKR hostage while I'd take
the X for an 30 minute spin... sounded good.
While he was getting
the keys, I took a good look at the car and it looked very much at
home in front of Alpine's showroom parked next to an XJ8 and my own
XKR. Just another elegant and refined design as we expect out of Coventry.
Yes, it is smaller and shorter than most Jaguars we've seen but there
is more to its elegant lines than just the styling clues, it's very
well proportioned and pleasing to the eye.
Honestly, Larry didn't
actually mention the hostage part but he did hand me the key and soon
I was heading out of the Alpine lot. First impressions are often the
longest lasting and right away the car felt nice, I felt at home:
the X-type is a real Jaguar despite its size.
I wasn't sure what to
expect in term of performance from a 2.5 liter V6 developing
191hp; to be fair, I should mention that my daily driver is
a 370hp Supercharged XKR so I am totally and hopelessly addicted to
horsepower. Half the ponies didn't sound like much but in fact, the
X-type felt quick and turned out to be fun to drive.
It's been a long time
since I had driven a modern standard transmission car and while I'm
used to the E-Type's 5 speed, I wasn't quite sure what to expect in
the X-type. First thing I noticed was how light the clutch was, requiring
no effort and that is going to be a big plus as Jaguar is trying to
attract more women into its cars. You don't need to be a body builder
to drive a standard transmission X-type which means that some people
won't mind skipping the $ 1275 Automatic tranny option. On such a
short drive, I didn't have a chance to hit serious traffic but I did
run into a few minutes of stop and go and I didn't miss having an
automatic. When traffic cleared, shifting manually is fun... when
is the last time you got to Toe And Heel downshifting in a new Jaguar...
The 5 speed manual works
really well too. We all know that it's been years since Jaguar sold
a manual car in the US but they've been selling them in Europe, S-types
and XJs, and it shows. Shifting is short and crisp in the first four
gears with 5th being just a bit longish. When starting from a standstill,
it helps to keep the pressure on the throttle as the V6 is not meant
to pull from 1000 rpm but there is little risk of stalling the engine.
When accelerating and shifting out of 1st or 2nd, I found the RPM
not dropping immediately and I'm wondering if they didn't keep the
flywheel on the heavy side. Nothing wrong with that of course, it
may actually help out when starting from a full stop if the clutch
is released to quickly.
Above : Ford based
but Jaguar refined aluminum V6 engine, transversally
mounted, a first for Jaguar. Below : the Traction 4
All Wheel drive system, another first for Jaguar.
The 2.5 liter V6 is responsive
throughout the RPM range even below 3000rpm giving the drivetrain
the refinement Jaguar owners will expect; this is no 8000rpm Japanese
screamer and pushing revs higher will not be needed. Indeed, looking
at the power and torque charts in the brochure, peak torque is achieved
at 3000 rpm for both engines ( 180 and 209 lb-ft) and remains available
through 5000 rpm ( closer to 6000 rpm for the 3.0) where the
horsepower curves starts to flatten. 0-60 times are a spirited 7.9
and 6.6 seconds for the manuals and 8.5 / 7.1 for the automatics.
I was able to take the
car on I 95 for a few miles and was pleasantly surprised with acceleration.
Again, despite being a base model, the X-Type accelerated quickly
to merge into traffic or to pass. Noise levels are low even at highway
speed, something expected from a Jaguar of course.
The variable ratio speed
sensitive steering is very responsive but not overly so, the driver
doesn't feel disconnected. The all wheel drive system cannot be appreciated
on dry roads but otherwise the X-type feels very much like a traditional
rear wheel drive Jaguar... a real car... you don't feel any torque
steer through the steering wheel as you would on a FWD car. This is
in part due to extensive work done by Jaguar engineers to refine the
ride and the use of special bearings in the upper part of the front
shock absorbers. All Wheel Drive will be a big plus for Jaguar in
places where the weather isn't as nice as Florida and give the X-type
a strong edge over Lexus and Mercedes; compared to BMW and Audi where
AWD is an option, the Jaguar will have the edge in pricing.
On the base model, the
ride offers a excellent balance of comfort and road feel, again the
result of careful tuning of the suspension in the design stage. The
16" alloy wheels wear low profile 205/55 Continentals, the 55
profile being a hint to the sporty character of the X-Type. If you
want a stiffer and even more responsive ride, you can opt for the
X-type Sport which comes with the full premium option package at an
additional cost of $ 4500. This sounds like a lot of money at first
but it does include just about everything including very supportive
sports seats, 17" alloy wheels, Dynamic Stability Control, electric
moonroof, rain sensing wipers and auto headlight, reverse park control,
Because of the unique
handling characteristics of the All Wheel Drive system, Jaguar
engineers had to develop an all new electronic Dynamic Stability Control
and after testing similar systems from Audi and Mercedes they decided
to follow the models used by Porsche in its Carrera 4 911; it keeps
the driver in the equation according to Jaguar engineers by allowing
some limited slipping before stepping in.
Plenty of room in the rear, storage and drink holders are built
in the folding arm rest
After bringing the car back to Alpine ( those 30 minutes felt awfully
short, a good sign), I took a closer look at the details inside the
X-type. As first noticed the fit and finish is excellent, this is
no second class citizen in the Jaguar line up and it might be built
in a former Ford UK plant but its workforce was indeed re trained
to Jaguar standards. Woodwork is similar to what is found in the more
expensive cars and the leather on the standard power seats is just
as nice as well. Only detail that didn't feel quite as nice were the
plastic parts on the A/C and stereo system control which lacked the
texture found in the XJs and XKS , costing twice as much of course...
The leather wrapped steering wheel is fully and manually adjustable
but also slightly smaller than on the larger cars, a plus; just behind
the easy to read instruments are outlined with chrome trim surround.
The base model includes an LCD mileage display which is a little harder
to read under certain light conditions compared to brighter display
used in other Jaguars.
One thing the interior
design team worked on real hard is storage as the X-type is full for
storage compartments for all those little things we seem to accumulate
in our cars... Of course A/C and Stereo controls are easy to use and
both system work as you would expect on Jaguar.
I was also surprised
by the amount of room in the back; leaving the driver seat as it was,
I sat in the back in was very roomy and comfortable, almost as roomy
as an XJ8... impressive. Then moving further back, I found a very
spacious boot which can be even more convenient with the 70/30 folding
rear seat available in the Premium option package.
Also impressive is the
amount of standard equipment Jaguar packed into its base X-type showing
that this is no stripped down model, there was nothing missing in
that car that would have made me think twice about buying it and this
is where Jaguar will be successful in competing not just with the
premium brands but with other models as well. When you add leather,
security system, remote locking, full power package and more to not
so luxury cars, their price tag will come pretty close to the X-Type,
and almost none will have All Wheel Drive. When compared to its direct
competitors, the X is very competitive (source : cars.com, feb 2001
|Jaguar X-Type 2.5L
||194 hp / 231 hp
||$ 29 950 / $ 35 950
|BMW Series 3
||$ 34 000
|Mercedes C Class
||168 hp / 215 hp
||$ 29 950 / $ 36 000
||$ 31 000
||170 hp / 190hp
||$ 25 000 / $ 30 000
interior of the X-type sports features special sports seats
offering plenty of support when putting the 17" low
profiles tires and tuned suspension to good use...
As seen in the table above, the
most important decision prospective buyers need to make is what do
they want under the hood... ugh bonnet... which by the way opens the
wrong way, for a Jaguar anyway, hinged from the back. The V6 comes
in two flavors : 2.5 liters and 3.0 liters developing respectively
194 and 231 horsepower, very respectable numbers considering the size
and the weight of the X-type, 106" wheelbase and 3428 curb weight.
The price premium for the larger engine is substantial, $ 6000, so
it's more than likely that most X-types will be sold with the base
engine, just like the S-type where V6 versions outsell the V8.
Transmission choice is
important and closely tied to engine choice for two reasons. First,
an automatic transmission is not as efficient and responsive as a
manual, a problem which is less noticeable on a larger engine. On
a smaller engine though, it will be felt and when mated to the 5 speed
automatic the 2.5 liter V6 will not be as responsive and as quick.
Price is the second part of the transmission deal since the 5 speed
automatic is a $ 1275 option on the 2.5 liter but is standard on the
3.0. If you really want an automatic, it means the larger engine would
now "only" cost you an extra $ 4725 and will more
than make up for the automatic performance losses. It's worth noting
that automatic equipped car have additional wood trim on the console.
While the base model
comes with all the basic features and amenities one might want, two
primary option packages are available ( see table below). The Premium
option pack includes many convenient features and is needed for the
Sports package which really transforms the X-type personality. Outside,
the Sports model features large 17" sports wheel with wide 225/45
Z rated tires and various color coded trim parts like the grille surround.
Inside, when you slip into the sports seat the difference is obvious
as they offer much more support and yet are extremely comfortable.
Of course, while adding
these options to the 3.0 engine will raise the price far above the
entry level $ 29 950, it does transform a good into... a real ultimate
driving machine !
Jaguar is placing a lot
of hope on the X-type as it represents the final expansion step for
the company; like Audi, BMW and Mercedes, Jaguar is now a 3 saloon
line manufacturer. At the recent JCNA Challenge Championship in Franklin
TN, Jaguar NA president Mike O'Driscoll said "the
X-type is our future" and after driving for the first time
I have no doubt believing him. While some may see the X-type as a
step down and a step away from the perceived traditional values of
luxury, let's not forget that value was one of main goals for Sir
Lyons in the early days of SS Cars and Jaguar. Let's not forget
than when he introduced the 2.5 liter saloon in 1936, he presented
the car and asked the audience to guess the price... their average
guess was 30% above the car's price... If such marketing techniques
could be used nowadays, the X-type extensive list of standard equipment
would probably yield the same results...
pack ( $ 2500 )
sensing front, side and curtain airbags
system with remote entry
||8 way power
front passenger seat
telescopic steering column
cruise control control on steering wheel
- Rain sensing wipers
|8 way power
driver seat, Connolly leather
park control - Homelink garage door opener
and CD prewiring
center and trip computer
||Sports package ($ 2000)
Alloy wheels w/225/45 Z rated tires
Alloy wheels w/205/55 H rated tires
leather sports seats
system - $ 2200
Premium Sound w/ 6 CD changer - $ 1200
Scroll down for more pictures...
Distinctive Jagur headlights are now slightly
oval but still flow into the bonnet.
Familiar Jaguar details can be seen immediately...
center console extending into
the dash, stainless steel Jaguar logo on the sills, smooth
flowing dash, etc...
Rear view looks familiar thanks to the light
shape, boot lid lines, and haunches.
Ticket Red S-type Sport with color coded