Jaguar has made no bones about how important the X-Type is to its future. This four-door sports sedan was designed to be the car that introduces classic Jaguar values--luxurious performance and tasteful, high-quality appointments--to an entirely new group of car buyers: Younger, hipper, those who lead active lives and are years away from clipping coupons or tracking blue-chip stocks. Sales are to be captured from potential buyers of BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class models, which is an especially tough crowd to convert. Moreover, the target for X-Type sales is hardly modest. Projections (remember, this was before the awful events of last Sept. 11 and the resulting dip in the world economy) called for 30,000 X-Type sales per year in America, and for its worldwide sales to contribute heavily to the doubling of total Jaguar sales over the next two years.
It's a tough road ahead for the crowd from Coventry, but on paper the X-Type has the credentials to make these goals reachable--especially when it's outfitted like our newest long-term vehicle. In late February we took delivery of a 2002 Jaguar X-Type Sport with 231-bhp 3.0-liter V6 engine and a manual five-speed transmission, aptly cloaked in British Racing Green, the standard leather interior a handsome hue called Sand. The car's base suggested retail price was $35,950, which includes such standard four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and EBD, and variable-ratio speed-sensitive power steering. Standard running gear is 6.5x 6-in. steel wheels with 205/55VR16 all-season radials.
The interior boasts the usual luxury amenities and includes automatic climate control; one-touch open/close power windows; bird's-eye maple wood trim; eight-way power driver's seat; front and rear footwell carpets; cruise control and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Audio systems are available in two stages, both by Alpine. Standard is a 120-watt AM/FM/cassette head unit with four door-mounted speakers. The Premium system has a 180-watt amp driving ten speakers and a trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer. Steering-wheel-mounted controls augment the traditional dials of the head unit; if the optional navigation system is ordered, however, the audio system is operated via the central 7-in. touch screen display that also contains controls for climate and nav systems and Motorola Timeport integrated telephone systems.
Active safety systems abound: driver and front passenger side airbags and seatbelt tensioners; front and rear side curtain airbags; three-point seatbelts for all five passengers; automatically locking doors when the car gets underway; and a full-sized spare wheel/tire.
Our test car came loaded, as evidenced by the $43,250 bottom line on the sticker. The options begin with a freebie, the five-speed cable-shifter manual transmission that comes as the standard gearbox for the 2.5-liter X-Type. Jaguar's five-speed electronic automatic, standard on the 3.0-liter model is, conversely, a no-cost option with the 2.5-liter engine.
Contributing $2,500 to the car's tariff is the Premium package, which contains a bunch of neat stuff: one-touch tilt/slide electric glass moonroof; 70/30 split/fold rear seat; eight-way power front passenger seat; two-way power lumbar support for both front seats; electrochromatic rearview mirror; auto headlamps; rain-sensing wipers; reverse park control; message center and trip computer; and Homelink(R)-compatible three-channel garage door/entry gate opener.
Hold on; we're just getting started. With the Sport option package, for a mere $2,000, our car was fitted with 7x17-in. alloys and 225/45ZR17 performance radials; a body-colored grille surround, rear plinth (yeah, whatever); bumper blades and black side window trim; leather-trimmed sport-style seats; gray-stained bird's-eye maple trim; sport-tuned suspension; and Dynamic Stability Control.
Hey, and why not add the Weather options, too (available only with the Premium group): heated front seats with two temp settings; headlamp power wash with heated jets; and Dynamic Stability Control. Wait...we've already got that with the Sport group, but we won't get charged twice, so this sets us back only $600.
Finally, we agreed to try out Jag's navigation system, a $2,200 hit. Additional options not on our car include JaguarNet, an emergency messaging system with integrated digital cell phone ($1,650); Alpine Premium sound system with six-disc CD changer ($1,200); xenon headlamps with automatic headlight leveling ($675). There are also dozens of dealer-supplied accessories from bike holders to trunk-mounted CD changers to Voice Activation.
The X-Type warranty is 4 years or 50,000 miles limited coverage. Scheduled maintenance is free, and 24-hour roadside assistance is part of the package.
Jaguar's first car with permanent all-wheel drive was designed to provide a tasty mix of performance with refined ride quality and, hopefully, attract buyers whose loyalty, when their wallets expand, will extend to cars further up in the line. The question is, can the car deliver all the expected Jaguar qualities at a price never before explored by the British luxury car maker?
Stay with us over the next year and we'll try to answer that question.