MM Retro-Write-Up: 2001-2011 Jaguar X-Type

mmcartalk

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MM Retro Write-Up: 2001-2011 Jaguar X-Type

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IN A NUTSHELL: Classic Jaguar on the surface, Not-so-Classic Ford under the skin.


While also known over the years for classic sports cars like the XK120 and XKE models (and the D-Type in Grand Prix racing), Jaguar also held a reputation for slick, beautifully-styled, but, unfortunately, not-so-well-built sedans. The standard Jaguar joke is that “I drove my Jag Coast-to-Coast, and it only caught fire once”….a sop to the notoriously unreliable British cork-gaskets and Lucas electrical system, plus the typical spotty quality-control in British auto-plants.

However, for those who were willing to tolerate frequent trips to the repair shop, and a vehicle perhaps less than ideally-screwed together, Jaguar sedans, especially for the price, were near the ultimate in eye-friendly styling, rich woods (including Burled Walnut) on the dash/console/door-panels, equally rich Connally Leather, and real metallic chrome…no plastic stuff. Unlike some competing brands, there was no denying a Jaguar body and interior. What you saw was what you got, although today, for the poor cows, there are also some excellent leather-substitutes…IMO the Lexus NuLuxe is the best one.

Jaguar, today, under the ownership of India’s Tata Motors, is also no longer the Jaguar of old in body and interior styling/materials….they essentially forgot their heritage (or, perhaps the bean-counters won out with cost-cutting) and essentially produce Teutonic-style vehicles. Tata acquired Jaguar and Land Rover when Ford essentially said “Ta-Ta” to both companies (pun intended), and sold them off in 2008 to control costs and help them avoid the bankruptcies/reorganizations that both GM and Chrysler went through a year or so later.

But, when Jaguar was under Ford’s ownership, one of the more interesting products, at least IMO, to come from that union was the X-Type sedan and wagon, which was derived from Ford’s CD132 platform, which also produced the compact Euro-market Ford Mondeo and the Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique in the U.S. I liked both of them, and thought they were quite well-built, with solid body sheet metal, decent if somewhat plain-looking interior materials, and a tank-solid Thunk to the door-closings. They also offered a beautiful light pinkish-orange Coral paint color. One of my neighbors has a Contour SVT (the sport-oriented version) some 25 years old and still running….he drives it regularly. I even considered buying the slightly upmarket Mercury Mystique version, although, at the time, I liked the plastic-bodied Saturn S-Class sedans even more.

So, since Ford had good success with both the widely-successful Euro-Mondeo and the American-market Contour/Mystique, the planners figured they would try a Jaguar-inspired version…which went on, of course, to become the X-Type. The X-Type would use the Mondeo chassis/platform, and, in the U.S., a choice of non-turbo 2.5L or 3.0L V6 engines and 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmissions…as I recall, most of the ones sold in the U.S. had the 3.0L and automatic, although a smaller 2.1L V6 became available later. AWD was standard in U.S. versions (unusual for a sedan that size, unless it was a Subaru Legacy), although FWD became available later with the smaller engine, which was too weak for the extra weight/drag of AWD. Turbocharged four-cylinder diesel versions were available overseas, but not in the U.S. The body styling would use the traditional Jaguar flared-fenders, formal roofline, split-front grille, chrome leaping-cat hood ornament, and roundish four separate headlights. In other words, it would look more or less like a smaller version of the mid-size Jaguar S-Type, which shared platforms with the highly-rated Lincoln LS. Inside, the X-Type would have the typical Jaguar wood and leather, although, perhaps because of its lower price (then the lowest-price Jaguar available in the U.S.), the Walnut-wood strips were left off the door panels. I really liked the package…except for the odd and gimmicky J-shaped shift-lever pattern, which I was not a fan of in other Jaguars either. Those used to Jaguar’s opulent full-size XJ sedan interiors might not have been that impressed, but the X-Class made its Contour and Mystique brothers look almost military-stark inside by comparison. Also quite unusual for the period, both 4-door sedan and 5-door wagon versions were marketed in the U.S…….wagons were still popular in Europe, but, in the U.S., the exploding minivan/crossover/SUV market had generally made them obsolete.

As I suspected would be the case, the wagon version sold quite poorly here in the U.S., and even the sedans were not all that popular. I got a chance to sample a sedan on a decent-length test-drive, and, while I liked the looks of the package, I didn’t think it drove particularly smoothly or slickly for something with the Jag nameplate. I was also somewhat unimpressed wth the general build quality (they came from a British plant), and my sample felt somewhat loose in assembly, with several squeaks/rattles/creaks in the interior and basic structure. As much as I liked the concept, I don’t think I would have bought or leased one and took it home. The competing First-Generation Lexus IS300 compact sedan (one of which I DID buy and take home) was far more solidly-built inside and out…arguably the most solidly-built new car I ever owned, though not without some minor transmission and climate-control glitches.

Consumer Reports confirmed the low reliability-rating of the Jaguar X-Type, and, although it was officially listed as in production until 2011, it was, in effect, pretty much out of production by the end of 2009.

Despite its flaws, the X-Type was actually one of the last new Jaguars (along with the last-generation XJ sedan) that appealed to me. Shortly after that, as I mentioned earlier, Jaguar began changing the style of their vehicles to a more plain and Teutonic style, and the classic wood/chrome/leather packages became a thing of the past. Except for reviews and write-ups, I lost most of my interest in the nameplate. They, in effect, tried to fix what wasn’t broken.

And, as Always……Happy Vehicle-Memories. 1640230075502.png

MM

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maiaramdan

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It's the beginning of the end for Jaguar

I think Jaguar continuous suffering until this point is because this car
 

mikeavelli

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If I recall it finished near last in every comparison. It was supposed to help Jaguar sales but just tarnished the name.
 

mmcartalk

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If I recall it finished near last in every comparison. It was supposed to help Jaguar sales but just tarnished the name.


The standard AWD, nice traditional Jaguar interior, wagon-option, and Jaguar-esque body styling were good selling points, but it suffered from indifferent assembly quality and being too much of a Ford in its road-manners.
 

mmcartalk

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Jag was done when Ford took over.

Overall, Jaguar's long-poor quality actually improved some when Ford acquired the brand and started applying some of its factory/assembly techniques. But those improvements didn't necessarily make it into the X-Type, which, as I said to Mike, suffered from indifferent assembly.
 

Razor

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Overall, Jaguar's long-poor quality actually improved some when Ford acquired the brand and started applying some of its factory/assembly techniques. But those improvements didn't necessarily make it into the X-Type, which, as I said to Mike, suffered from indifferent assembly.
I just feel Jaguar lost it's identity...especially when it started looking like a Ford.
 

mmcartalk

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I just feel Jaguar lost it's identity...especially when it started looking like a Ford.


I can't say I disagree, although Jag's real slide was when they gave up on the nice wood-and-leather interiors and started the Teutonic stuff inside.