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Jaguar X-Type Estate 2.2 Diesel Sovereign Auto

Click to view picture galleryDownsize to a Jaguar X-Type
  2.2 Diesel with the newly-available
  six-speed automatic transmission
  and you too can laugh in the face
  of the recession.
..

ALTHOUGH THE UK'S NEW CAR MARKET is in free-fall — down 8.7 per cent so far this year — some brands are still coping well and weathering the storm. Jaguar, for instance — a good British name, now owned by the Indian TATA conglomerate although Ford still holds a minority shareholding. Jaguar's UK sales for the first 10 months of this year are actually up by 11 per cent. Given they sell 'premium' models, that is a really good performance — and much of it achieved on the back of their relatively-new XF executive saloon and the XK Coupé/Convertible range.

However for those wanting a Jaguar which costs a bit less, but still needs to carry a reasonable load plus passengers in relative comfort, the long-serving X-Type Saloons and Estates are worth looking at — especially with discounted prices readily available. Official prices start at £21,500 for the Saloons and £22,900 for the Estates. Engine options for the Saloons are 2.0 and 2.2-litre diesel units and the same for the Estates but with the addition of a 3.0-litre V6 petrol unit.

Downsizing, as it is called, continues to sweep through the car market and the latest Jaguar X-Type diesel automatic has arrived at the right time for some. Executive and premium car buyers like automatic transmissions because the relaxed driving they bring goes well with the luxury and refined specification.

There has long been a choice of both petrol and diesel engines for the X-Type, but until this year you could not get a diesel auto — its arrival has truly transformed the turbocharged 2.2-litre oil-burner and given it a new lease of life. The fact is, many drivers probably ignored the 'baby' Jag because it did not offer an automatic transmission mated with a diesel. Now there's no reason why you should consider any other compact executive because, despite its age, the latest X-Type is still extremely good.

I tested the more versatile estate version in top-spec Sovereign trim and this gives a useful maximum load space of 1,415 litres with the rear seats folded. With four on board there is cushioned comfort over long distances and still a practical 455 litres of boot space.

The powertrain offers a superb blend of performance and economy, acceleration and flexibility — utterly effortless, yet it does so much. The six-speed auto 'box adds an additional £1,450 to the X-Type's purchase price but is well worth it for the added refinement it brings.

The 2.2-litre engine is an instant starter, pulls very strongly and is so smooth it could be mistaken for a petrol unit except when you see how reluctant the fuel gauge needle is to sink back to 'empty'. For the record, official fuel consumption figures are 29.6, 41 and 51.9mpg respectively for urban, combined and extra-urban.

The new six-speed automatic is a perfect match, giving instant pick-up from standstill, silky selection up the box and utterly composed character when cruising at the legal maximum. Select Sport mode and it can also be stirred along as a semi-automatic.

I used the test car to cover nearly 900 business miles over three days and it proved very capable of continental travel, and during that time only needed one refill.

City driving was easy with the on-board navigation taking me door to door without hassle. The Sovereign's standard equipment tally is comprehensive and includes SatNav, climate control, powered windows and mirrors, leather seats, cruise control, parking sensors and a refined sound system. The only option fitted to the test car was the £895 electric sunroof. With S, SE, Sport Premium and Sovereign trim levels, there is a wide choice for the cost- and tax-conscious business driver to consider. For these drivers the Sovereign variant is probably too costly (bearing in mind Benefit-in-Kind taxation) but the SE looks a good compromise.

The mechanical refinement of the X-Type's powertrain was matched by the sharp, nicely-weighted steering and the stopping ability of the brakes which together made the X-Type a very agile and reassuring car in any situation.

Handling has always been a take-it-for-granted virtue of Jaguar cars and the X-Type estate is no exception. The front-wheel drive X-Type sticks to the road, turns in sharply and exhibits mild understeer through bends. Road bumps and potholes are absorbed without complaint or passenger discomfort while the accommodating seats soak up the last remnants of any roughness.

Room is good in the front, tighter in the back but the luggage space is useful and oddments room is reasonable. If you need maximum room in the front for both front seats then the legroom is short in the rear.

Visibility over the shoulder is slightly restricted but surprisingly clear through the back window. Lights and wipers coped well with bad conditions. All noise levels were low and that made tyre noise at cruising speeds more noticeable — so I just turned the volume up on the sound-system.

I suspect it could be my age, but I found the leather-and-wood trimmed cabin very smart; the classic British executive motor. Yes, it's starting to show its age and while the young upstarts from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz may well produce technically better and more modern looking products, there's no pain in downsizing to an X-Type.

The only grumble is that for some it will be short on headroom and rear legroom. Other than that, reasons to downsize to this particular Jaguar are many, and include low running/tax costs, a relaxing and comfortable ride and ample load space. And, despite good discount prices, you'll still get image and style. So it's not only comforting on your back pocket… but what's sitting on it! — David Miles

Jaguar X-Type Estate 2.2 Diesel Sovereign
Auto | £31,850
Maximum speed: 125mph | 0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
Overall test MPG: 47mpg | Power: 152bhp | Torque: 270lb ft
CO2 184g/km | VED Band E £170 | Insurance group 15