The Jaguar X-Type was the car of conquest. With it, Jaguar had to position itself at the height of the best European luxury brands. However, nothing went as planned … Others broke their teeth in an attempt to dethrone the BMW 3 Series.
Prior to its acquisition of Ford in 1989, Jaguar lived quietly in the 30,000 annual global sales. But the Detroit producer had ambitions for the venerable brand from Coventry. With the launch of the S-Type in 1998, the goal was to trample the flower beds in the BMW 5 Series and double sales. Then the launch of the X-Type was to shake up the 3 Series and double sales again. Easier said than done…
An expensive dilemma
When the X-Type covered a new market segment for Jaguar, everything had to be invented. And the first question to decide was the choice of platform. It should offer driving pleasure similar to the 3-series, ie longitudinal engine and rear-wheel drive. If the S-Type platform, DEW98, met these characteristics, it turned out to be too expensive to make money in a lower area. The decision was then made to use the CD132, developed for the second generation Ford Mondeo. Problem, it’s front-wheel drive. Never mind, the X-Type will be eligible for four-wheel drive with all versions. Problem fixed! However, the platform has been seriously revised: the dimensions are changing and Jaguar is designing a new chassis at the front (the rear end uses the multilink system in the Mondeo family).
If the S-Type sold quite well in the early years of marketing, it was criticized by the specialty press for having a style that was a little too neo-retro (inspired by the Mark 2, produced in 1959 to 1967), although the trend raged on it point in time. Therefore, designer Wayne Burgess under the leadership of Geoff Lawson (who, among other things, signed the XJ220) will produce elegant but more traditional lines, based on market research conducted in the US, where the sold-out X-Type is supposed to be sold out. Inside, everything visible (except for a few buttons) comes from Jaguar and not from Mondeo. It must be said that the dashboard on the S-Type, which is shared with the Lincoln LS, was not very well received.
The 3.0-liter AJ-V6 block was launched with the S-Type. It is based on the Ford Duratec family, but differs in variable valve timing. Under the bonnet of the X-Type, it develops 227 horsepower (in North America) instead of 235 in the S-Type. It is supported by a 2.5 liter version of 192 horsepower (still in America). On the transmission side, Jaguar offers the choice between a Ford-purchased MTX75 5-speed manual and a JF506E 5-speed automatic supplied by Jatco. During normal driving, the four-wheel drive works with a 40:60 distribution between front and rear, just to approach the behavior of the German reference cars. Finally, the steering is a ZF Servotronic II.
Too much or too little?
To manufacture the X-Type, Ford took over the Halewood plant, which produced Ford Escorts, and refurbished it to Jaguar standards for 300 million pounds sterling (approximately 660 million Canadian dollars in 2000). Ford employees are even trained in the cat brand’s glorious past. Ford increases the production speed very slowly to ensure the best possible quality.
The X-Type is launched in the European market for the 2001 model year and the following year in North America. The initial reception is quite good. The grip, without being as sporty as its Bavarian competitor, is considered excellent as well as comfort. The 3.0-liter engine does its job well, however, the 2.5-liter is a bit tight. Among the flaws we can mention less solid interior plastic than in German cars and cramped rear seats. But quickly, the X-Type suffers from a rather bizarre image deficit. We find the style “for Jaguar” and the mechanical part “not enough Jaguar”. But when Audi makes an A4 based on a Passat platform, no one gets angry.
If the small Jaguar comes well-equipped as standard and with four-wheel drive as standard, it is still a little unfavorable in terms of price compared to the competition. The 2.5-liter version for $ 42,950 stands up to a $ 37,225 Audi A4 1.8T quattro, $ 38,900 BMW 325i or $ 39,450 Mercedes C240. As for the 3.0-liter model, it has a $ 44,495 Audi A4 3.0 quattro, a $ 46,500 BMW 330i or a $ 50,600 Mercedes C320 in front of it.
Worldwide sales were 55,600 in 2001 and 69,050 in 2002, reaching 100,000 with the North American launch.
That’s why Jaguar is stopping the development of X-Type variants. The carmaker was designing an X-Type R with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and bulging screens, as well as a coupe that reportedly had very sleek lines. There is only budget left for two projects: the diesel versions and a family body, called the Sportwagon.
The latter was drawn under the direction of Ian Callum, who replaced Geoff Lawson after his death in 1999 at just 54 years old, and was introduced in 2004 in Canada. As for the diesel engines, which are essential in Europe, they come in the form of 4 cylinders of 2.0 and 2.2 liters (126 and 150 horsepower respectively) to the 2003 vintage, only in front-wheel drive and without the possibility of automatic transmission. They will never be sold in America, just like the 2.1-liter V6 petrol version with front-wheel drive introduced in 2002. 2005, 29,400 in 2006 and 20,150 in 2007.
In 2008, the X-Type benefits from a moderate restyling: new grille, new mirrors, interior retouching and diesel engines optimized for Europe. That’s all … Logically, sales continue to fall: 15,950 in 2008 and 8,050 in 2009, the last year of marketing. In Canada, it will have known very limited developments: Sport and VDP package (for Van den Plas) to 3.0 liters in 2005, 2.5 liter engine removed in 2006, standard stability control in 2007 and the disappearance at the end of the end of 2008 vintage.
In 2014, research firm Bernstein Research estimated that Jaguar would have lost 4,687 euros per copy sold, or more than 1.7 billion euros (or 2.5 billion Canadian dollars) over the life of the model. The choice of the CD132 platform was expensive for the brand, although the X-Type ultimately shares only 19% of its components with a Mondeo.
It was apparently still too much for the purists.
Once I’ve gone under the leadership of the Indian consortium Tata, Jaguar will try the adventure of a compact vehicle again in 2015 with the XE … with equal success. But this is a different story …