2002 Jaguar X-TYPE
This 2002 review is representative of model years 2002 to 2008.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Move over, men. Women have a new reason to shop for a Jaguar.
Not that we needed a reason to swoon over these sleek and sexy cars from England.
But, until recently, there was always that niggling detail of money, since the lowest-priced, new Jaguar had a starting price tag of more than $43,000.
Today, there's a new Jaguar with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of about $30,000.
It's called the X-TYPE and it's an entry-level luxury sedan that's compact in size, like the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4, and the smallest of Jaguar's cars.
Officials at Jaguar Cars North America expect the X-TYPE to attract more women buyers. Typically, men buy 60 percent of Jaguars, according to the automaker. But thanks in part to the lower price of the X-TYPE, half the X-TYPE buyers are likely to be women.
Auto purists may debate the merits of the X-TYPE's blended heritage. But more entry-luxury car buyers are likely to focus on practical issues, such as how does the X-TYPE look, drive and, most importantly, make its owner look and feel.
To me, the X-TYPE's styling is classy. There's not a hint from the overall shape that this is a low-priced Jag.
The four round headlights that peer out from the end of the expressively shaped hood instantly convey that this car is a Jaguar.
Best of all, these headlights provide strong illumination without any distracting patterns, and that's without paying for the optional Xenon lights.
The X-TYPE's rear end seems better proportioned than that of the Jaguar S-TYPE. And it's extremely useful. The X-TYPE's trunk has 16 cubic feet of space; the S-TYPE's is just 11.7 cubic feet.
The base X-TYPE engine is a 2.5-liter V6 capable of generating 194 horsepower, which compares with the 184 horses from the 2.5-liter inline six cylinder in the BMW 325i sedan.
But both my test Jaguars had the up-level, 231-horsepower 3.0-liter double overhead cam V6. This compares with 210 horses in the ES 300's 3.0-liter four-cam V6 and the 225 horses from the BMW 330i's 3.0-liter inline six cylinder.
The X-TYPE's power came on smoothly, eagerly, no matter if I was seeking to speed up in city traffic or wanting to pass on the highway. Torque of 209 lb-ft at 3000 rpm was immediately palpable, even in the car with the five-speed automatic transmission.
Goodness, the first time I stabbed the gas pedal, the car shot forward in a fluid movement, no dawdling.
The six-speed manual transmission gave a sportier feel, allowing me to work the gears the way I wanted and push my passengers against their seatbacks.
The automaker reports a 0-to-60-mph time of an impressive 6.6 seconds with the manual transmission and the 3.0-liter V6.
And when I needed to slow quickly, brakes—with anti-lock mechanism and electronic brake distribution that evens out braking power, front and rear—worked powerfully to help moderate the speed of the X-TYPE.
An AWD Jaguar
It uses a viscous center differential and is engineered with a rear-wheel-drive bias since 40 percent of the power goes to the front wheels and 60 percent is directed to the rear in normal driving.
When wheel slip is detected, however, the viscous coupling automatically transfers power to the wheels with better traction.
Jaguar officials said all-wheel-drive didn't necessarily come from a concern about driving in snow and rain as much as it resulted as engineers worked to transform the platform that was borrowed from the front-wheel-drive Ford Mondeo into a car that felt and drove like a Jaguar.
All other Jaguar models are rear-wheel drive.
Thanks to the X-TYPE's all-wheel drive, I never felt a single tug of torque steer. Torque steer occurs in some front-wheel-drive cars as strong power prompts the wheels to tug suddenly to one side or the other at acceleration, prompting a driver to hold tightly to the steering wheel.
Smooth ride but not floaty
Yet the X-TYPE was comfortable for a five-hour roundtrip on the highway, too.
Front suspension is independent MacPherson strut, while the back has an independent torsion control link design. They worked to cushion most road bumps, yet don't make riders feel as if they are floating unnervingly along the road.
The X-TYPE's power-assist rack-and-pinion steering responded quickly to driver inputs and provided good feedback from the road. Sometimes, I felt as if I could sense the tire tread's contact on certain road surfaces through the grippy, 16-inch, V-rated tires.
Yet, there wasn't appreciable road noise.
Seat pros and cons
But the devil can be in the details. The X-TYPE's rear seat cushion is strangely curved so the maximum thigh support goes to the least-used seat, the middle seat, while outer seat occupants have at least one leg with less thigh support than the other.
The middle person in the back of the X-TYPE also doesn't get a head restraint and has to sit straddling the raised drive tunnel in the car floor.
Additionally, the X-TYPE's rear-seat legroom of 34.4 inches and rear-seat shoulder room of 53.7 inches are less than that offered in the ES 300 and BMW 3-Series sedans.
The dashboard shelf sits high with a distinctly Jaguar swath of shiny wood dressing up the area just below it. The wood also is on the shift lever knob of the automatic transmission, but it's not on the manual transmission knob.
Instrument gauges are nicely clustered in the X-TYPE and visible through the top half of the steering wheel.
Note, though, that as in some other Jaguars, the speedometer has numbers only at 20-mph increments, and it sometimes can be difficult to glance down quickly and see if you're traveling 40 or 45 mph, for example.
A few other items
For some reason, both test X-TYPEs seemed to lack the same fullness of smell, though the automaker says the X-TYPE seats are "Connolly leather-trimmed."
I also was surprised there is no accessory power after the ignition in the X-TYPE.
The built-in cupholder in the center console doesn't accommodate large cups very well, and one of the test cars had a door seal that wasn't aligned properly and a center storage lid that didn't latch.
Lastly, be warned that while the X-TYPE base price is attractive, it is easy to option up the car so its price tag reaches S-TYPE range.
For example, one test car—with up-level engine, metallic paint, upgraded audio, weather and premium packages—topped out at more than $42,000. Yikes!
Jaguar or no?
I'm still working on that answer for the X-TYPE. While the X-TYPE is an appealing ride, I wonder whether a low-priced Jaguar for the masses, using so many Ford items, dilutes an historic automotive pedigree.