The X-type isn’t dead. It’s been given another facelift. Should we care? Well, while it can’t hold a candle to a 3-series or A4, it is now becoming the car it always should’ve been. This latest version has nearly 500 changes, and are centred around the mating, in both saloon and estate forms, of diesel to auto for the first time. Oh well. Better late then never.
So ‘diesel’ and ‘Jaguar’ is no longer heresy?
Seems not: oil-burning X-types now form 97 percent of sales. To think, back in 2003, there was so much fuss from traditionalists about ‘the first Jag diesel’. Some would argue the company is listening to those backward-looking sorts that set the company on its unsuccessful retro-inspired path in the first place, but never mind. At least this self-shifting diesel sticks to Jag tradition in one way. It’s rather good.
What, the car as a whole?
No, the transmission. The six-speeder shifts smoothly, both up and down. It mates well with a fairly torquey engine for relaxed forward motion that even the 3.0-litre version of those peaky old V6 petrols can’t provide. It's much more straight-six Jag in response, even if not in noise as it shudders into life and clatters when cold. Luckily it's much sweeter when warm, and is pretty free-revving.
Jaguar also shows off about the sequential shift, but we’re less excited here. Rivals have had it for years. The auto’s emissions and economy are also way off the manual’s. Oh, and even the auto can’t mask that lazy, old Ford diesel step-away from rest. Be wary at junctions.
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Sounds like the rest of it isn’t great.
To be fair, you may be surprised. We know dynamics God Mike Cross has spent time on the X. You can spot his touch from the surprising fleetness, the delicacy of steering, the confidence and feel you get from the handling. It flows, this Jag, just as a good ‘un ought – and, with intelligently ‘breathing’ damping, has composure, too. The brakes remain poor, though but thankfully the whole caar is not in-your-face sporty like so much modern stuff. We like this. Ah, if only Jaguar made a modern compact exec…
So how am I going to spot this ‘new’ Jag?
Through new bumpers, sills, side mouldings, door mirrors (with built-in winkers), grille and badges. Yes, it’s still an X-type, so still far too traditional, but it’s more clean and contemporary now. Less fussy. The chrome splitter bar in the front bumper is also quite effective, as is a grille that apes the XJ.
I still can’t see people flocking to it.
Jaguar doesn’t expect them to. By compact-exec standards, this is set for a low-volume life now, in the UK at least (a particulate filter which dips power from 152bhp to 143bhp hardly helps desirability). Rather, it’s growing demand from markets like Russia and Turkey that’s justifying its continuation.
Undoubtedly, though, it’s an old car. It immediately feels so inside, with dated architecture and seats that feel more Ford than Jag. Prices partly compensate – a 2.2D auto is but a few hundred quid more than a base 318d manual – but this car serves more as a study in what could have been.
A lovely auto, a bit of traditional Jag dynamic sensations and half-decent value will tempt some, but no amount of exterior tweaking can hide why the X-type missed its target. Luckily, the car it sits alongside in showrooms – the XF – shows, at last, they’ve learnt.