2005 Jaguar X-Type

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2002 Jaguar X-TYPE

This 2002 review is representative of model years 2002 to 2008.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

New Jaguar is one of top entry sports/luxury sedans.
Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Sleek
  • Fast
  • Roomy
  • Standard all-wheel drive
Cons:
  • Spongy brake pedal
  • Dead clutch pedal feel
  • Hard-to-read odometer

The new Jaguar X-TYPE all-wheel-drive sports/luxury sedan promises to be an instant hit when it goes on sale Aug. 1 in this country because it feels every inch a Jaguar and has base prices far below those of other models from this sexy automaker.

Ford, which bought Jaguar about a decade ago, wants the compact X-TYPE to be the British automaker's first high-volume car. Indeed, the fast, posh X-TYPE is expected to double Jaguar sales in the next few years. Ford paid a lot for troubled Jaguar, and then pumped a small fortune into it. A high-volume model will help it get back some of that money.

For Younger Buyers
Many X-TYPE buyers are expected to be young folks who can't afford other Jaguars and like the sporty, upscale Jaguar image. Many buyers are expected to be women. Jaguar says they will especially like the security of the all-wheel-drive feature, which many don't want to buy a sport-utility vehicle to get.

I tested all versions of the nicely built X-TYPE on a variety of roads and a race track in the Dijon area of France, and found this model can easily compete in its tough market segment. It's more fun to drive than Jaguar's larger S-TYPE and XJ sedans, which mostly are fast, stylish luxury models. The X-TYPE can even be more entertaining than the rather soft XK8 two-seater.

(It can be argued that the costly supercharged versions of the XJ and XK are the ultimate "fun" Jaguars. In any case, Jaguar says to watch for a supercharged X-TYPE in the next few years.)

Major Rivals
The main competitors to the X-TYPE are the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Audi A4 and Lexus IS 300. Of those cars, the 3-Series is considered the leading model. After all, BMW has been making 3-Series since the late 1970s and has plenty of practice.

But the X-TYPE is as much fun to drive as the 3-Series sedan and has a more posh interior. The new Jaguar feels sportier than the C-Class. As for the A4, it lacks the prestigious Jaguar nameplate. And the IS 300 is too hard-edged for many buyers.

The A4 and 3-Series offer all-wheel drive, but it is optional.

All-Wheel Drive
This is the first Jaguar with an all-wheel-drive system. It normally splits the power so that 60 percent goes to the rear wheels—giving the X-TYPE the balanced feel of a rear-drive auto. When wheelspin is detected, a viscous center differential transfers power from slipping wheels to those with the best traction.

This "invisible" system does not call for driver involvement and doesn't make you feel as if in an all-wheel-drive car—except for the extra traction it provides.

The 3,428-3,516-pound X-TYPE has quick, precise speed-sensitive power steering with good feedback. Strong brakes provide short stopping distances, although hard driving on the twisting track caused some brake fade after repeated, hard braking.

Athletic Handling
Surprisingly, the supple suspension provides a nicer ride than that of the heavier S-TYPE's. And the athletic handling encourages spirited driving. The standard suspension is fine, but a $2,000 Sport Package sharpens it a bit. That package contains sport seats with extra support, stability control system, stiffer suspension with 17-inch (versus 16-inch) wheels and wider tires. One drawback of this package is that it causes occupants to jerk a bit sideways on some roads.

However, you can't get the Sport package without ordering the $2,500 Premium package, which contains such items as a power glass sunroof and power front passenger seat.

There's also a $2,200 navigation system and the $1,500 JaguarNet emergency messaging system with integrated digital cellular phone. Both also require the Premium package. Voice activation is a dealer-installed option. It allows voice control of primary functions of the audio, climate control, telephone and satellite navigation system.

Parts Sharing
The X-TYPE shares some parts with Ford's highly rated new Mondeo model, which won't be sold in the United States. But Jaguar modifies most shared parts and the X-TYPE feels every inch a Jaguar. Besides, even Porsche models share parts these days.

Attractive Pricing
The parts sharing helps hold down the X-TYPE's base prices. The car starts at $29,950, with the more powerful version going for $35,950. The next least costly Jaguar is the S-TYPE, which starts at $43,655.

Although it's an entry-level model, the X-TYPE is well equipped. The lower-priced X-TYPE has a 2.5-liter 194-horsepower V6 and items including automatic climate control, AM/FM/cassette, remote keyless entry, cruise control and power driver's seat, windows, door locks and mirrors.

Standard is a slick 5-speed manual transmission, which works with a clutch that has a reasonably short throw but feels a little dead.

Improved Automatic Shifter
An automatic transmission with a manual shift feature is a $1,275 option. It has a much-improved version of Jaguar's traditional automatic transmission J-gate shifter, which has a sloppy action in other Jaguars. However, the shift action has been tightened a bit too much and may cause some drivers to occasionally bypass a desired lower gear and shift too early into a higher one.

The $35,590 model has a 3.0-liter 231-horsepower V6 and a no-cost choice of the manual or smooth, responsive automatic.

Jaguar is to be congratulated for offering both models with the manual. But, in fact, the S-TYPE's automatic is a 5-speed unit with an extra gear that makes it nearly as fast as an X-TYPE with the manual.

Good Acceleration
The 3.0-liter model does 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds with the manual and in 7.1 with the automatic. The 2.5-liter version hits 60 in 7.9 seconds with the manual and in 8.5 seconds with the automatic.

I expected the 2.5-liter model to feel considerably slower than the more-powerful model, but that wasn't the case because both engines produce lots of torque at low and mid-range speeds. Both V6s are the first transversely mounted Jaguar engines and are based on the V6 in the Jaguar S-TYPE. They're quite sophisticated, with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and continuously variable valve timing.

Expect fuel economy in the mid-to-high teens in the city and in the mid-20s on highways.

Roomy
The X-TYPE has Jaguar's typically inviting wood-and-leather interior, although a fair amount of interior plastic tells you this isn't a $40,000-plus Jag. Four tall adults fit comfortably—if front occupants don't move their seats back too far. However, rear doors should open wider for easier entry and exit.

The standard driver's power seat and tilt-telescope steering column accommodate a wide range of driver sizes. Gauges are easily read and their chrome rims are a nice touch. Controls are well placed and work smoothly. But the odometer is often difficult to read quickly on sunny days.

Front seats are comfortable, although those in the optional Sport Package may prove too confining for some occupants.

Safety Items
Safety features include electronic brake force distribution, side-impact airbags up front and side curtain airbags for all outboard occupants.

The X-TYPE has the largest trunk of any Jaguar model, at 16 cubic feet. It's nicely shaped and has a fairly low, wide opening for easy cargo loading. Also, its lid raises on hydraulic struts, not old-fashioned manual hinges. But a fold-down split rear seat only comes in the Premium package.

Jaguar reliability has improved greatly, and the X-TYPE has a comprehensive 4-year/50,000-mile warranty and road-wide assistance program.

Some analysts consider the X-TYPE a big gamble for Jaguar because it's entering a really tough market and the company isn't known for entry models. But others consider the car to be a good strategic move that will let Jaguar increase volume, fill out its model lineup and draw a much larger number of younger customers.

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BB01 - 7/28/2014 3:33:21 AM