Issue: Apr 2005

New Product In Brief

Jaguar's X-Fighter Battles for Premium Market Share

by Gary Witzenburg


The Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon is all new from the B-pillars back and boast class leading cargo room.

While Ford PAG and Jaguar leadership struggle to right the legendary marques financial ship, its designers and engineers continue to challenge competitors with substantially improved new generations of its sleek and supple products. Jags new aluminum XJ sedans are as good as anything in their Euro-premium class, and a sensuous (also aluminum) new XJ sports car is previewed by the Advanced Lightweight Coupe concept unveiled in Detroit. Meanwhile, the less-appreciated entry-level X-Type which was 32 percent better in J. D. Power Initial Quality in 2004 vs. its 2001 introductory level and accounts for about half of Jags U.S. sales arrives for 2005 much improved and with three new models: a practical and handsome Sportwagon, a more aggressive Sport sedan and an upscale VDP Edition.



Jaguars first-ever wagon (shown above) is new from the B-pillars back, with new rear doors, roof, body structure and rear quarter windows. It boasts class-leading cargo room while sacrificing little in interior quietness or dynamic agility vs. its sedan stablemates. One nice touch is a covered compartment beneath the load floor with a 12V outlet perfect for recharging a laptop on the go.



As the previous standard 2.5L V-6 is phased out, all X-Types will be motivated by an aluminum 3.0L V-6 that Jaguar touts as the most powerful engine in its class. With a Denso 32-bit engine management system, it generates 227 hp and 206 lb.ft. of torque and can propel the 5-speed manual X-Type sedan from rest to 60 mph in 6.6 sec., quicker than anything in its class save the manual-trans BMW 330i. And X-type remains the only compact luxury line with standard AWD a Traction-4 system that maintains a 40/60 percent front/rear torque split at all times on all models.



Besides front and rear crush zones, 4-way adjustable front head restraints and a collapsible brake pedal (to prevent lower leg injuries), the X-Type is equipped with dual-level front airbags, front and side curtain bags and a driver knee bolster air bag. Those who can effectively talk and drive at the same time can do so somewhat more safely through standard Bluetooth technology that enables wireless cell phone connection through the audio system.


What we think

While the original X-Type Jaguars hope to generate incremental volume and profit enough to justify its production over-capacity has been criticized as a less-than-luxurious spin-off of the European Ford Mondeo (which it was), we thought it a reasonably satisfying ride at the price. And it has already generated more than 100K North American sales. Now, with an expanded model line and content and quality where they should be to represent the leaping cat, we believe X-Type acceptance should continue to grow. Our only complaints: the engine needs a bit more torque for low-rpm grunt, especially with the 5-speed automatic, and more acoustic treatment to be as smooth and quiet as a Jaguar should be under heavy load.



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