This Could Be a Very Exclusive Wagon
It would be hard for Jaguar to have gotten off to a worse start if they were truly attempting to impress me with their new X-Type wagon this week.
|My week test driving the new Jaguar X-Type wagon got off to a pretty shaky start. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
First of all, just like when the Ford owned Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover division booked me a Range Rover and never told me they had moved their press car pick-up location from the professional service they had been using for years to a local dealer, the same folks neglected to tell me that Jaguar press cars were to be picked up at a different location than Land Rovers, on the other side of town.
|With only 1,700 kilometers on the odometer, electrical problems shouldn't be part of the equation. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
Upon phoning the dealership on the Friday prior to my Monday pickup date, another thing happened similarly to the Land Rover experience; no one at the dealership had any idea about a press car program or who to talk to about it. Some time later a very courteous Jaguar receptionist found someone who knew about it and told me to have someone in my company come by and pick the car up on Monday. Great, we were getting somewhere.
When Monday came, Shawn and Alexandra (I was in Detroit driving Vipers, Ram SRT-10 pickups and other fun toys on Chrysler's test track, poor pitiful me) went down to pick up the Jag and, after waiting for hours, couldn't do so as it was suffering from a broken power seat switch. What does a person expect on a car that only has 1,700 kilometers on the odometer? Is the ghost of Lucas, the electronics company that gave the British brand a bad name for reliability in years past, still alive at Jaguar? The automaker's 25th finish out of 37 nameplates in J.D. Power and Associates' 2004 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) might suggest this.
Unfortunately, according to the service manager the dealership didn't have the part, and neither did any other dealer in the city. I can only assume there's no parts warehouse in my two million plus town either, therefore Jaguar had to have the component shipped in. Three days later the car was fixed, and ready to roll. Three days to replace a minor power seat part in a model that has been on the market for two years? That's not good enough Jaguar.
|Three days to replace a minor power seat part in a model that has been on the market for two years? Not good enough Jaguar. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
And it's too bad that the public relations department's many fumbles, the car's questionable reliability and the relatively slow service to fix the problem marred my initial introduction, as the little wagon is very nice for the most part. It looks pretty good for a wagon, a bit generic from the rear view but its hard to find fault with the classic Jaguar front end styling, complete with a sculpted hood bending down to a monochromatic grille featuring a chromed leaper hood ornament on top, and those sexy double-bubble circular headlamps as characteristic of Jaguar design as anything could be.
|Aside from the PR department fumbles and electrical issues I experienced, the little Jaguar wagon is quite nice for the most part. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
The same must be said of the interior, seriously upgraded since the Ford of Europe Mondeo (Contour in these parts) derived sedan hit the North American market in 2001 as a 2002 model. I drove it then and was under-whelmed, but my wife Jennifer loved its light steering and general easy nature. I don't know what Jaguar has done, but maybe they've listened to too many testosterone induced critics. The steering is nowhere near as light anymore, which makes it more substantial feeling and more enjoyable for me, but Jennifer had very little good to say about the car she used to like above most others. She's a harsh critic Jaguar, so don't be overly concerned.
I personally didn't find the car's handling to be any worse than the sedan's adept capabilities, even with the added weight
|The light steering and general easy nature of the earlier version X-Type has been replaced with a more substantial feel. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
of its wagon configuration. Jaguar has reportedly revised spring and damper rates to compensate for the differences, and due to this I could find no noticeable differences in ride quality either. Jaguar reprogrammed the stability control system specifically for the wagon as well. I'm sure I would have appreciated this feature matched with the car's all-wheel drivetrain even more if there had been inclement weather during my test week. Nevertheless I had opportunity to slide back the sunroof shade and let the sunshine in through the tinted glass panel - it was too hot to open it fully until nighttime.
The seats offer decent lateral support during aggressive cornering, both on the lower cushion and upper seatback. Still, I just couldn't get comfortable, and neither could anyone who joined me in the front passenger seat, regardless of shape or size. The way it is designed (and it wasn't like this in previous X-Types I've tested), there seems to be a ridge that sticks out just below the
|When you compare the Jaguar X-Type and Mazda6 wagons side-by-side it's surprising how similar they are. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press) |
shoulders, or at least my shoulders. It was so uncomfortable in fact that I didn't jump at the chance to drive it - my usual reaction to having a Jaguar in my garage. Instead I opted for the Mazda6 wagon that I had parked beside it, which offered much more comfortable front seats.
I was actually surprised at how similar the two cars are. Both are almost identical in exterior and interior dimensions, with the Jaguar and Mazda being 4,716 and 4,770 mm in length respectively, 1,783 and 1,780 mm in width, plus 1,441 and 1,455 mm in height respectively. The X-Type's wheelbase is a trite longer at 2,710 mm compared to the 6 wagon's 2,675 mm span, while the Jag's also slightly heavier at 1,610 kg compared to 1,537 for the Mazda.
If I hadn't read differently, I'd have said the two cars share general architecture. But once again the Jaguar was
|While each automaker shrouds their engine with stylish plastic covers, both the Jaguar and Mazda feature an almost identical version of Ford's 3.0-liter V6. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
initially derived from the front-drive first-generation Ford Mondeo (Contour) and the Mazda6 is all Mazda, at least when it comes to the chassis. The Mazda6 "platform" will be used in upcoming Ford products, however, including the yet to be named Taurus replacement (previously called the Futura before Ford realized it didn't have rights to the name anymore) and Lincoln Zephyr.
Look under the hood and the similarities between the two cars are even more similar. While each automaker shrouds their engine with stylish plastic covers (Jaguar wins out in this comparison), both feature an almost identical version of Ford's 3.0-liter V6. Not the same 150 horsepower mule as found in the base Taurus, but even more sophisticated than the 24-valve, dual overhead cam iteration as found in the Taurus SEL Premium. There it makes 200 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, while due to Mazda's care and attention it achieves a much more potent 220 horsepower, albeit at the expense of 8 lb-ft of torque, the final tally being 192. Jaguar ekes out an addition 7 horsepower over the Mazda iteration, for a total of 227, plus it ups torque by 10 lb-ft over the
|Jaguar has done a good job of isolating engine noise and harshness in the cabin. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
Taurus, to 210 lb-ft (figure taken from Jaguar website which is slightly different than the 206 lb-ft initially stated in Jaguar's press material), by adding continuously variable valve timing, a three-stage variable induction manifold, 32-bit microprocessor and electronic throttle control. The Jag 3.0-liter develops 80 percent of its torque at 1,500 rpm and 90 percent at only 2,500 rpm, making it quite flexible under most conditions.
The difference can be felt under full acceleration, and especially so during passing maneuvers. Also, while the 3.0-liter Ford-derived powerplant isn't BMW-smooth and quiet, Jaguar has done a good job of isolating engine noise and harshness in the cabin.
By the way, Jaguar offers a slightly less powerful 2.5-liter V6 in the X-Type wagon as well. It produces 192 horsepower
|Jaguar's traditional J-gate shifter is outclassed by just about everything else currently in its field. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
and 180 lb-ft of torque, which should be ample for most drivers. A 5-speed manual is also offered as a base transmission, which makes it more fun to drive than the optional 5-speed automatic. A 5-speed manual is also offered as a no-cost option in 3.0-liter equipped cars that come standard with a 5-speed auto, but it should be said that Audi and BMW offer 6-speed manuals, even in base form.
I can't say I appreciated Jaguar's traditional J-gate shift lever in the 5-speed automatic equipped 3.0-liter test car, however, at least when compared to the up and down sequential shifter Mazda offers in its 5-speed autobox. I've owned a 1990 Jaguar XJ Sovereign, and therefore loved this shifter when no rival offered anything nearly as advanced, but I have to admit to it being outclassed by just about everything else currently in its field. It would be great if Jag could come up with a way to keep tradition intact, while
|Jaguar is up against some extremely strong competitors in the sport wagon arena. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
taking advantage of Ford's resource of sequentially actuated automatic gearboxes. Nevertheless the transmission shifts smoothly up through the gears and downshifts within an adequate speed, but fortunately without the jerkiness that can often be associated with sport-oriented cars.
On that note Jaguar is up against some extremely strong competitors in the sport wagon arena. Audi has done quite well with its A4 Avant, while BMW's 3-Series wagon comes across as the perceived quality leader. Lexus, with its IS300 SportCross, probably beats all rivals when it comes to dependability, as the brand regularly is on the top of just about every third party quality survey including the aforementioned J.D. Power VDS.
Mercedes-Benz offers an extremely classy looking C-Class wagon, while Volvo is just releasing its all-new 2005 compact
|Price and favor aren't on this Jag's side. In order to succeed, it's going to have to bank heavily on heritage. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
V50, a real value leader in the compact wagon class. The brand also offers the V70, that while larger than Jaguar's X-Type wagon, is priced similarly depending on trim. Saab has its new Subaru Impreza-based 9-2X wagon joining its 9-5 Wagon soon, and while it's a bit on the small size it's priced very well. The 9-5 wagon, while larger than Jaguar's X-Type wagon, starts at a lower based price of $41,000. Even when topped out at $57,000 in Aero trim, the 9-5 wagon is priced lower than the Jag at its top trim level. What's more, at this price it offers a 250 horsepower turbocharged engine with 258 lb-ft of torque.
Volkswagen offers up a couple of alternatives too, the Jetta Wagon and Passat Wagon. While the former obviously couldn't come close to the Jaguar's level of prestige, the latter offers an interior that would make some premium brand designer's blush in embarrassment
|It will be exclusive, no doubt, but potentially runs the risk of being too exclusive for Jaguar's sake. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
if trapped inside. What's more, it offers 4-cylinder, V6 and W8 powertrains that obliterate the competition. Even in its top trim at $55,820, the Passat is quite a bit less expensive than the hardly equivalent X-Type wagon.
How much is that? Try $59,595. Even at its $43,195 base sticker the X-Type wagon isn't exactly priced to fly out the doors. It will be exclusive, no doubt, but potentially runs the risk of being too exclusive for Jaguar's sake. The brand had to dramatically reduce the price of its X-Type sedan in order to motivate buyers into the showroom and push cars off the lot, a strategy that has had its rewards, but at great cost to the automaker's bottom line.
To put things into perspective, BMW's 3-Series wagon starts at $40,950, more than $2,000 cheaper than the
|To put things into perspective, BMW's 3-Series wagon starts at $40,950, more than $2,000 cheaper than the Jaguar. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
Jaguar. Audi's A4 Avant, although featuring only front-wheel drive in base form, starts at $35,735, more than $7,000 less expensive than the X wagon. The all-wheel drive quattro A4 wagon is priced at still more than $3,000 under the X-Type wagon, at $39,595. Volvo's new V50, while slightly smaller than the Jag and less opulently equipped in base guise, starts at a mere $31,495, $1,000 less than the outgoing 2004 V40 wagon. If you want the high-end interior treatment and extra power of its T5 engine package, a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder complete with an intercooled turbocharger developing 218 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, the Volvo V50 T5 will set you back a cool $36,495. Hmmm, not bad for a great looking little luxury wagon with a heck of a lot more sport than the X-Type. The Lexus IS 300 SportCross is the only luxury sport wagon base priced higher than the Jaguar, at $44,640. This is not a very positive example for Jaguar to rest its case, however, as the model is almost nonexistent on North America's roadways.
Of course, buying a sport/luxury car rarely comes down to comparing engine output ratings, at-the-limit handling dynamics, or specific features. At times performance and luxury features are so dramatically different that it will persuade buyers motivated by such differences, but then price almost always comes into the equation.
|The X-Type wagon does have one intangible going for it that no competitor can match - sheer opulence. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
When comparing Jaguar's X-Type wagon side-by-side with its competitors, performance and features aside, it has an intangible going for it that no competitor can match - sheer opulence. It's the only traditional luxury car in the mix. The only one that overwhelms occupants with planks of beautifully finished woods, olde world trim accents such as the classically styled chrome door handles, and beautifully detailed gauges. It's a feast for the eyes. Audi and BMW buyers might not buy into its gentleman's club charm, but anyone subjected to the maelstrom of clashing interior treatments in a Lexus IS 300, especially when finished of in beige leather, will feel as if transported into a calming den of tranquility. Being a Gemini I appreciate both the German and Swedish approach to contemporary efficiency and British overindulgence, depending on the mood swings of my polar personality, but I can't stand clutter for the sake of excitement - hence my dislike of that particular Lexus and most anything of recent vintage bearing a Pontiac badge. From a visual perspective Jaguar's X-Type doesn't invade on my senses, but rather envelopes them in harmonic unity.
Its functionality is also easy on the nerves, with a two-way liftgate that opens upward in the conventional way, while offering
|The functionality of the X-Type wagon is very apparent, with a two-way liftage featuring a separately opening glass hatch. (Photo: Shawn Pisio, Canadian Auto Press)|
a separately opening remotely actuated glass hatch. Jaguar provides a fancy, retractable cargo cover that can be removed if necessary. I removed it to see how easy it would be to live with, and while it came off easily part of the mechanism started to come apart. I snapped it back in place, but it looks as though it could be troublesome in the not-too-distant future. I especially like the bright-metal scuff strip that runs across the edge of the cargo floor, and the carpeting covering all exposed surfaces back there is first rate. The space is also fully optimized due to almost no intrusion by the wheel wells, plus Jaguar has included a handy compartment under the loading floor for loose items that may soil the carpet.
The rear bench folds 60/40, as is usually the case among today's wagons, but it would have been more accommodating if it could be laid completely flat. Just the same, 1,415 liters (50.0 cu ft) is available once dropped down. With the rear seatbacks upright, a
|While it's high price may be out of reach for some, those wanting a Jaguar will be prepared to pay for its exclusive prestige. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
maximum of 445 liters (15.7 cu ft) of luggage space is available. Either way the X-Type wagon can handle 500 kg (1,102 lbs) of cargo weight.
After a week behind the wheel, my only serious complaint is the uncomfortable front seats. This would be a deal-breaker for me, but should be a relatively easy thing for Jaguar to fix. I probably wouldn't make such a fuss about it unless I hadn't had the same complaint from all those I had sit in it, and being curious I requested the service from everyone I ran into while driving around in the car. The unanimous consensus was that the seats put too much pressure on the upper back and shoulders, and therefore don't offer enough in the lower pack and lumbar. With seats being the most important human/machine interface in any car, I couldn't give the X-Type wagon passing grades as is. One thing to consider, mind you, is that seats can be customized to a persons needs if necessary. Therefore, if you happened to have fallen in love with the car's many likeable attributes but also find the seats uncomfortable, I'm sure a fix can be had.
Other than that, and the car's questionable reliability, it's a truly functional addition to Jaguar's growing model lineup. While it's high price may be out of reach for some, those wanting a Jaguar will be prepared to pay for its exclusive prestige.
- Price Range (estimated MSRP): $43,195 - $59,595
- Body Type: 5-door wagon
- Layout: front engine, AWD
- Base Engine: 192 hp, 180 lb-ft of torque, 2.5-L, 24-valve, DOHC V6
- Opt. Engine: 227 hp, 210 lb-ft of torque, 3.0-L, 24-valve, DOHC V6
- Transmission: 5-spd manual (optional 5-spd auto)
- Brakes (front/rear): disc/disc, ABS
- Acceleration (0 to 100 km/h): 7.8 seconds (3.0-liter)
- Curb Weight: 1,610 kg (3,549 lbs)
- Cargo Cap (seat up/down): 445 / 1415 L (16 / 50 cu ft)
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 13.1 / 8.5 L/100 km (3.0-liter auto)
- Warranty (mo/km): 48/80,000 comprehensive
- Direct Competitors: Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3-Series Wagon, Lexus IS300 SportCross, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon, Saab 9-2X / 9-5 Wagon, Volkswagen Jetta Wagon / Passat Wagon, Volvo V50 / V70
- Web Site: www.jaguar.ca
Note: Additional larger photos are available in the photo album.