Wheels - Jaguar’s three new X-Type models
Smart and Savvy
The 2005 Jaguar X-Type serves up all of the brand’s style, quality, and luxury in three new and quite separate packages — each featuring all-wheel drive as standard and oozing that inimitable Jaguar class.
The Sportwagon — Jaguar’s first five-door model — brings a new level of functionality and metropolitan style to the range. The first Jaguar created by design chief Ian Callum, the Sportwagon features all of the sedan variants’ poise and grip on the road but now has room for all those lifestyle objects — skis, ladders, tripods, dogs, etc. — that you wouldn’t normally be able to cram into a Jag’s curves.
It’s functionally as capable inside as it is on the road. The rear seats split so you can fold one or both down, and there’s a rear blind to hide your shopping from unwanted attention. There’s even a 12-volt power outlet next to the rear deck so you can power your cool box if you fancy a bit of tailgating.
Driving the Sportwagon is nearly identical to the sedan. There’s none of the added road noise you sometimes hear with wagon versions, and all the driving responses are as crisp and positive as ever. As a slick alternative to a small SUV, the Sportwagon wins every time. And as an attention grabber, it works as well as cars several times its price. There’s also the plain fact that it’s a great-looking car.
While the looks are perhaps a matter of personal taste, what’s certain is the new 3.0 Sport version’s performance enhancement. In the same way that the Sportwagon adds a new level of functionality, the Sport raises the standard 3.0 X-Type’s handling to a new level. It shares the same V6 engine that all the 3.0 X-Types use, but places it in a chassis designed to allow the driver to get the most from it in all situations.
Apart from the larger and more aggressive 18-inch wheels — the standard is 16 inches — and super-sticky performance tires, there’s sport-tuned suspension and a rear spoiler to keep the car stuck to the highway. A variety of styling cues — including a black mesh grille and a well-resolved body kit give the car a suitably sharper, more aggressive appearance.
The sports messaging continues inside with the leather and Alcantara-trimmed sports seats that grip you as well as the car grips the road and a luxuriously sporty carbon-fiber dash treatment. Buy the car in black or graphite and you have one of the best-looking and best-performing premium compact sports sedans available today.
If you want more luxury than performance, seek out the X-Type VDP. Featuring a list of standard equipment longer than both of your arms, this model, named after European luxury coachbuilder Vanden Plas, explores the softer, more sensual side of the Jaguar character.
While still no slouch in getting down the road, the VDP ensures the driver and passengers are severely cosseted. Chrome and walnut abound in the fabulously appointed cabin, as does almost every conceivable appointment. It’s far easier for us all to say what it doesn’t include you probably don’t, or won’t, need or want.
Driving all three cars, you are left with the enduring impression that each represents something of a bargain. Quite apart from being the most stylish of the premium compact sedans, the X-Types’ all-round ability and quality make them a smart and savvy choice. The fact that there are three more versions to tempt us should mean their popularity continues to grow.
X MARKS THE SPOT
If you want sun in the western United States in January, there’s only really one place to look: Palm Springs. That was the reason Jaguar pitched up at the superbly renovated Parker Palm Springs resort to launch the 2005 X-Types to the press.
It was also the reason why Porsche, Honda, Kia, and — right at the last minute — Lexus arrived there, too, to do the same thing with their latest models.
Several automotive journalists went from one launch to the next, some enjoying more than six days of desert life and weather at the manufacturers’ expense.
But no one complained. All knew that they were in the only place in the United States that has great roads, a fabulous array of luxury hotels, and that searing blue-sky weather.