X-Type 2.2 Diesel S Auto
has revised its
but, despite 500 changes, you have
to look hard to spot the difference.
Chris Rees drives the 2009 model
car to find
out if the updated
finally thrown off its
SOMETIMES IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO BREAK DOWN PERCEPTIONS once they've
taken hold. Jaguar has, therefore, quite some hurdle to overcome with its revised
2009 model year X-Type. The original was launched back in 2001 as Jaguar's
entry-level model and a direct rival for the BMW 3 Series.
Here's the received wisdom about Jaguar's X-Type. One, it hasn't been a commercial
success. Two, it's basically a Ford Mondeo underneath. Three, it's old-fashioned
and driven by 'mature' men.
Jaguar is determined that its revised X-Type should debunk these 'wisdoms'.
It's made a claimed 500 changes to the 2009 X-Type, which it says make the car
more "modern and dynamic". It's hoping that these changes will be enough to
reverse a disappointing sales record.
First up, looks. It takes a while to spot 2009's changes because the new X-Type
looks almost identical to the old one. By modern facelift standards, the Jag
has hardly had a nip 'n' tuck, let alone a full face job. There's a new mesh
grille, new Jaguar badging, a revised front bumper and a new lower grille bar.
From the side, you might be able to spot the new mirrors and new side and sill
mouldings. The rear bumper is lower, too, and the saloon gets a chrome rear
trim bar but that's about it. Squint and the profile of the X-Type is
virtually the same as the original Jaguar XJ of 1968. Modern? Not in the way
that Audi, BMW and Mercedes are.
Next, the interior. This is always an area where Jaguar has excelled. There's
a genuine feeling of quality here, from the solid thunk of the doors as they
close and the authentic wood trim, to the stitching on the leather.
So what are the cabin changes? Overall, there's a bolder look, one reinforced
by some very adventurous trim patterns and colours. Jaguar describes some of
these as "contemporary modern even outlandish". The diamond-pattern,
plum-coloured leather seats in the car I drove would certainly fit that description.
There's a choice of wood veneer (for the 'old gent'-type buyer) or modern carbon-type
trim (for the more contemporary chap). New tungsten and chrome detailing recalls
the style of the big luxury Jaguar XJ. By and large, the X-Type's cabin feels
classically classy and has loads more character than BMW or Mercedes. And for
my money, this is the X-Type's greatest strength.
Jaguar hasn't changed the packaging, so the X-Type's strengths and weaknesses
remain the same. That means decent room up front, rather restricted legroom
in the rear but an enormous boot, even in saloon guise.
So how about the mechanical side? First, let's debunk the Mondeo myth. Yes,
the original X-Type did share 20 per cent of its mechanicals with the Mondeo
but that means 80 per cent of it was pure Jaguar. In any case, the Mondeo
was the best-handling car of its class, and I'd never cite that as a conceptual
The original X-Type was launched exclusively on a four-wheel drive platform.
That was mainly because Jaguar reasoned that the market wasn't ready for a front-wheel
drive Jag. In fact, pure front-wheel drive did arrive in the small-engined versions
of the X-Type and it made very little difference to the way the car drove
which was admirably. The mix of front- and all-wheel drive for 2009 hasn't changed.
I went straight for the newcomer in the X-Type range: the 2.2-litre diesel version
with an automatic gearbox. Remarkably, this is the first time that automatic
has been offered in the X-Type diesel range. The so-called Sequential Shift
gearbox is in fact a pretty conventional automatic and not one of those DSG-type
sequential shifts offered by Audi and BMW.
This is another area where the Jaguar feels less cutting-edge and more backward-looking.
It's a smooth-shifting, six-speed unit that selects the right ratio most of
the time, and it cleverly uses technology to prevent torque converter slippage.
But the 'sports' setting is an optimistic label and the manual up-down changes
bring virtually no benefits to driveability. It's best to view the auto as a
supremely simple, effective fully-automatic system.
The 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel is decently torquey (266lb ft at 1,800rpm)
but compared to similar-sized diesels from Renault, Toyota and Audi that are
producing 175bhp, the Jaguar's 143bhp seems a bit feeble, especially in a prestige
setting like this. It's not enough of a step up from Jaguar's 128bhp 2.0-litre
diesel option, and that's reflected in the rather sluggish 0-62mph time of 9.9
seconds. Top speed is 129mph. At least it's pretty economical: the diesel auto
returns 41mpg on the combined cycle and keeps CO2 emissions down to 184g/km.
The good news is that the engine is very refined, and this sense of tranquillity
is bolstered by suspension which keeps the ride composed in most conditions.
There's certainly little to fault in the way the X-Type handles. Through a series
of fast, flowing bends on my Northern Irish test route, the X-Type remained
firmly planted, its steering feel was consistently accurate and full of feedback,
and its levels of grip were always impressive. Yes, there is a little more body
roll than I'd like but overall, this is an enjoyable and safe car to pilot at
The X-Type range now starts at £21,500 for the 2.0 diesel S saloon (£2,370 less
than the entry-level BMW 318d). The 2.2 diesel automatic, as tested here, starts
at £23,950. Equipment across the range includes Bluetooth 'phone connectivity,
stability control, automatic wipers and headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather
steering wheel and cruise control. The lavish SE pack adds £4,000 to the price
but includes items like a colour touch screen with SatNav (an excellent system
to use) and a TV tuner. The top-spec Sport Premium adds a further £1,500 to
the price, while estates carry a £1,400 premium.
In pure sales terms, the changes seem to have worked: sales are up 50 per cent
compared to last year (although the baseline sales figures were never very impressive).
But I think Jaguar should have been much bolder with its revisions. What the
X-Type really needs is a complete overhaul in fact, it needs a dose of
The new big Jag XF has been very well received in the marketplace and is modern,
forward-thinking and cutting-edge for the first time since the 1968 XJ,
in fact. It's about time that Jaguar realised its future lies with cars like
the XF; not a 40-year-old design, however iconic it may be. Then it can finally
debunk that last monkey on its
back that it's 'a brand for old men' and welcome a new generation
to the Jaguar badge. Chris Rees
Jaguar X-Type 2.2 Diesel S Auto | £23,950
Maximum speed: 129mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Overall test MPG: 41mpg | Power: 143bhp | Torque: 266lb ft
CO2 184g/km | VED Band E £170 | Insurance group 15