Open-top version of BMW’s acclaimed M4 Coupe is also pretty impressive…
On test: Jaguar X-Type 2.0D review (2003-2007)
Bodystyle:4dr saloonEngine:2.0-litre turbocharged in-line 4-cylinderFuel type:DieselTransmission:5-speed manualDate of test:October 2003
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What is it?
This really is the most important Jaguar for years. Forget the claims made for the S-Type and petrol-engined X-Types, the latter is meant to be Jaguar's mass-seller yet sales are stalling dramatically - simply through the lack of a diesel option. When sales of oil burners are rapidly approaching 50% in Europe, not to mention emissions-based, diesel-favouring company car rules in the UK, you can understand the importance of this car, the first-ever diesel Jaguar. It needs to revive interest in the X-Type, keep Jaguar's higher-volume aspirations alive, keep thousands of workers at the Liverpool production facility in employment - yes, it's a car of huge importance.
Where does it fit?
The X-Type is, in most people's eyes, a British rival to the premium German brands - Audi's A4, BMW's 3 Series and Mercedes' C-Class. As such, the 2.0D is a rival to diesel-powered versions of each; all of which outsell many other petrol engines in their respective ranges. It's going to be Jaguar's key model in the UK's burgeoning 'prestige' fleet sector, where any diesel makes far more financial sense than comparable petrol engines. And, as the X-Type's alternatives are relatively thirsty V6 petrol units, expect it also to pick up sales from buyers on a budget who nevertheless desperately want to own a Jaguar. Prices capped at the same level as the 2.0-litre V6 petrol - meaning an entry-level car costs around £20,000 - also means the Coventry company will expect to pick up buyers considering more-expensive versions of the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Vectra and so on. Really, it's a cover-all-bases car.
Is it for you?
If you like saving money, it certainly is. The 2.0D X-Type can lay claim to being the best value-ever Jaguar, easily. Yet there's far more to desirability than that, so it's fortunate that Jaguar's been busy at work in other ways. All 2004 model year X-Types feature subtly different trims inside and out, new instrument graphics, a modified rear finisher, different wheels, all minor tweaks to make the design a little more cohesive. And they're successful too - it's still not as 'complete' as an Audi A4 but now arguably turns more heads than the ageing BMW 3 Series, though it remains colour-sensitive. All the existing strengths remain too, such as a very roomy interior, decent equipment levels and big boot. This really is a Jaguar you'll consider alongside a BMW.
What does it do well?
The four-cylinder 2.0-litre common-rail turbodiesel engine is very refined indeed - quieter than the Audi, quieter than the BMW in some circumstances. It's smooth too, even at higher revs, and punchy enough to offer more instantaneous 'go' than the rev-happy V6 petrol engine in everyday conditions. It's mated to a slick gearchange while the engine's extra weight has done nothing to affect the light, delicate steering or neutral cornering attitude. This is a front-driven car that behaves almost like a rear-driven one; very impressive. Both refinement and build quality are good, giving a sense of longevity, while the interior, with its tall, imposing dash, is 'different' enough to make it feel reasonably special. Ride quality is also very good indeed, even on firmer 'Sport' suspension settings and large-diameter wheels.
What doesn't it do well?
The engine, though punchy, is not a firecracker. Reasonably frequent gearchanges are needed to keep it on the boil and it lacks the neck-jolting torque of Audi or BMW - though some of this may simply be down to the Jaguar's more polite manners and relaxed power delivery. Quality, although generally high, is let down in some surprising areas, and the centre console of non-climate control models looks dull, as if it's been lifted out of a Ford Fiesta. Other than that, and ultimate handling that lacks the driver focus of a BMW, there's little to fault with the X-Type diesel. Although many still express disappointment that it looks too 'retro', too much like the XJ saloon, and not enough like a car for the new Millennium.
What's it like to live with?
Low running costs should be expected with this car. It costs less to insure than the petrol models, a great deal less to fuel, while retained values are also predicted to be superior - significantly so in the first few months of the car's release. It's also likely to age reasonably well as, although the shape does not push boundaries, key rivals are older and will be replaced before it. Other areas, such as the roomy, flexible interior and healthy boot will come into their own in time, too. It's certainly roomier than a BMW in the back.
Would we buy it?
This is one X-Type we certainly would consider. The diesel-fuelled engine has transformed the car, making it a far more tempting proposition for those who either have to pay for their own fuel or pay tax on the car the company gives them. But it's as un-diesel-like as any car you'll find for the money, meaning all those who were panicking about an oil-burning Jag can rest easy. Sure, performance may not be as rapid-fire as some rivals, and many are still doubtful about the exterior, but overall Jaguar can be pleased with itself. This is an able car at a competitive price, appealing both to head and heart. It'd be near the top of our list, for sure.
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