Advantages Power, Performance, Prestige
Disadvantages Economy, Ecology, Economics
OK, I admit it. I'm a bit of a petrol head.Which means I am passionate about quick cars and don't want to drive just anything.
So when I started a new management job a couple of years ago with a nice car allowance, I went looking for a classy, comfortable second-hand car suitable for business use, with four (or five) doors, good performance and something which has that difficult-to-define "X-factor". (I suppose there's a clue in that phrase, but it took me three months to realise it!)
In other words, I wanted a car with a professional / managerial image; but second-hand (because, sadly, I couldn't afford new). It had to have at least four doors because "no man is an island" (as John Donne famously stated) and I do provide transport for family, friends, neighbours, clients and/or colleagues. My first love has always been coupes, closely followed by hot hatches. But I was getting sick and tired of jumping in and out of the three-door Golf GTI which I was then driving in order to let back seat passengers in or out. My wife had just had a back operation, so it wouldn't have been fair to expect her to do all the moving; although I suppose some feminists might try to argue that point.
"I'll know it when I see it. Something quick and classy, with four or five doors. It needs to have a comfortable ride, for my wife's sake."I suppose the frustrating thing for the car sales people was that I had a pretty fair idea what I did not want. And that excluded their default choice of compact exec, because I didn't want a BMW.
Then I started looking at Jaguars. It's a bit more exclusive than the BMW because Jaguar sells 13,000 a year versus 60,000 BMW 3-series. Jaguar has a classy image and second hand prices are good because depreciation hits owners of new Jaguars harder and faster than Chris Eubanks after two cans of Red Bull. But the new owner's pain is the second hand buyer's gain.Also the Jaguar slogan of "Grace, Space and Pace" was a perfect fit for my requirements and the Jaguar brand has the right cachet for the professional image I was trying to buy into.
I saw a few older cars on the marketplace and thought they looked like bargains, but during my Internet research I remembered reading a recommendation that you should go for a 2004 or later car, for reliability reasons. So I raised my sights a bit.Sadly, the first X-Type I tested was, to be honest, a disappointment. It was a 2.5 litre that felt a bit sluggish for my liking. The salesman tried to get me to try a diesel but, like I said, I'm a petrol head, so that conversation did not last very long. (I have since had a 2.2 diesel X-Type Sport for a couple of days and found it a very good car, with good economy, lively to drive with good mid-range oomph but lacking in 0-60 acceleration and with only front wheel drive - plus no Jaguar roar.)
Then I found a silver 2004 X-Type 3.0 SE for a good price at an independent dealer and, after a short test drive, the smile on my face told the world that I had found what I was looking for. It felt like a totally different car, with far better performance and handling.
Lots of things to say for this category.
In other words, the Jaguar is fast. 6.6 seconds to 60 mph according to the manufacturer's figures. Which brings a smile to my face at every set of traffic lights.The huge overtaking capability in third gear means I can take advantage of even small opportunities to get past the slow moving cars that seem to afflict the main B road I travel along daily. Slip the clutch, blip the throttle and clip the gear smoothly into third gear. This produces a satisfying roar and a perceptible shove in the back. Which, in order of increasing importance, helps journey time and my morale.
To me, the classical swooping lines, long bonnet, four headlamps, touches of chrome and the muscular sweeping haunches that are Jaguar trademarks work far better and look much more co-ordinated than the dog's dinner of angles that greets the eye when you look at some recent car designs.The downside of retro is that the Jaguar can come across as, "A bit of an old man's car." (As one colleague remarked with a tinge of green eyed-monster in his voice.)
"I really resemble that remark!" was my reply.Still, life in the Jaguar more than compensates. With its walnut dash, chromed speedometer, part wooden multi-function steering wheel and full leather interior, my car makes the driver and passengers feel special. As far as I know, nothing else does that in this price/size range.
If you do want to go for more modern looks in the X-Type, go for a Sport with low profile tyres, Jaguar body kit, red or black exterior and titanium look interior. And then post a comment with directions on this review, so that I can come drool over it.
But press the accelerator towards the carpet and your ears will be rewarded with a very Jaguar-like roar that brings a smile from ear to ear.Some reviewers have commented on a drone coming from the AWD power transmission. I have to say I have never had that problem. Occasionally I notice a slight hum, as if the car is singing happily as it cruises effortlessly down the motorway at 70 mph. But that's the height of it.
Comfort is a major strength for the X-Type. The electric adjustable driver's seat really helps, as does having a steering wheel that is adjustable for reach and rake. Nothing to do with gardening. It simply means that, by unlocking a lever under the steering column, you can not only pull the wheel towards you or away from you, but you can also move the wheel up or down. This makes it very easy to get the wheel into a comfortable driving position.The most incredible part of this car is the suspension. This is the first car where I could comfortably drive over the dreaded speed bumps at 30 mph. It's great if your wife has had back surgery (as I mentioned earlier). And yet, press on and you will discover this car is not a stodgy Yank barge that slops from bump to bump like a drunken sailor on a Friday night. This car can really handle. At decent speeds the car seems to "come alive", with responsive steering and a suspension that takes good care of the twisty bits.
I deliberately went for SE rather than Sport specification as the suspension bias is towards comfort rather than handling (again, playing the thoughtful husband role). But I have to say the SE has more than satisfactory handling and the Sport (which I have also driven) has more than satisfactory comfort for most people.The multi-function steering wheel includes cruise control, which is a boon for relaxed cruising through towns at the legal limit in front of the ubiquitous so-called "safety" cameras.The in-car computer has two different trip counters and shows you:
Primary safety, with anti-lock brakes, wide tyres, all wheel drive and excellent suspension / handling is great. Primary safety means how well the car helps the driver avoid a smash. If you manage to have one anyway, secondary safety comes into play - to keep you and your passengers safe from serious physical harm. Secondary safety seems very good, although thankfully I haven't had to test this yet. The Jaguar is a large, solid car that feels very strong. And when Old McDonald sat in this car, he saw here an airbag, there an airbag, everywhere an air bag! E I E I O.
At the back, the middle armrest comes down and has two cup holders. Just don't try lowering it when carrying more than four people. The person in the middle of the back seat is likely to object.I did insist on rear parking sensors being retrofitted to the car because it didn't have any. The garage got caught out on this one, because they just fitted the sensors to the standard rear splitter. As a result, the sensors were pointing at the ground all the time and they always went off (loudly) as soon as reverse gear was engaged. Which was about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. Jaguars with factory fit rear parking sensors have a different, more vertical splitter and when the garage fitted one of those (at no additional charge to me, naturally) then everything was hunky-dory.
This car drinks petrol like a dipsomaniac Russian soldier. I average 27 mpg and the best average I've achieved on a tank-full of petrol was 31.4 mpg. But then again, that's not bad for a 3 litre petrol V6 with permanent four wheel drive, especially when you use the performance to maximum advantage and it is sooo seductively easy to do so! Budget accordingly or learn to restrain your wild side.
Tyres are a painful topic. The car takes Pirelli P-Zero Assymmetrico 225/45 ZR 17 rated 91Y; good for 186 mph… not that I will ever see that. Honest officer! But they are not cheap at £130 or more a pop (no pun intended). Worse, they are scarcer than hen's teeth to find. If you only have a space-saver wheel, as there is on my car, you have to crawl around at 50 mph until you find a replacement. Which does wonders for fuel consumption by the way: 36 MPG - but who on earth buys a Jag to crawl everywhere at the pace of an arthritic snail? So take a look at the condition of the tyres on any car you are looking at and negotiate accordingly.
If you are looking at a 3.0 litre (or 2.5 litre) X-Type, then do check with the seller when the car last had a steering alignment check. Also park the car with steering on full lock and take a look at the inner parts of the front tyres. If they look excessively worn, or if they are brand new, then get a quote by phone from a Jaguar dealer for a proper alignment. I was quoted £48 over the telephone for the job, but when I arrived the dealer receptionist told me they charged £73! Once I told them the name of the person who had given me the quote, they agreed to stand by it, so the story ended happily.
Car tax will be a pain. At 244g/km CO2 the X-Type 3.0 litre is right slap in Alistair Darling's cross hairs for £400 a year. My opinion of Labour chancellor's attitudes to car owners is probably best left unprinted in a review that might be read by little children and impressionable Islamic terrorists. I only wish "two Jags" Prescott had argued a bit more forcibly at those Cabinet meetings when the budget was discussed.
Actually, reliability has been pretty good. But I did have one major problem shortly after I got the car, which in the interests of completeness I must mention.I was demonstrating how quickly the Jaguar accelerates to a mate who has a BMW M3. I dropped the clutch at 3,000 revs and everything seemed fine, but I couldn't get a gear when I tried to go into third. It turned out a thrust bearing and the dual mass flywheel (DMF) had been broken. Thankfully the AA extended warranty got me a new thrust bearing, new DMF and a brand new clutch for free, which saved me about £900. An AA warranty on this car will set you back about £23 a month and, after that experience, I have been happy to shell out for it.
After I got the car I noticed a very small spot of rust just above the numberplate. I didn't realise it at the time, but apparently it's a common problem with the X-Type. Apparently the chrome blade fitted at the factory, just above the rear number plate, was manufactured a hair's breadth too large. As a result, when fitted, it scraped the rust proofing off the metal. The Jaguar dealer refused to fix it under warranty as, at just over three years old, the car was out of full warranty. There is a six year anti-rust warranty but apparently that's only for rust bubbling out of the car and not for this kind. Grrr! I wrote a pleading email to Jaguar customer care and I am pleased to report that Jaguar promptly agreed to have the repair done under warranty. So thumbs up to Jaguar for their customer care then! If you are looking at a used X-Type, make sure you pop the boot lid and take a look above the number-plate for any such rust.Aside from burning through tyres (not literally) I have had no other quibbles on reliability.
Warranty Direct statistics back up my experience. They quote the Jaguar as being in the top 10 most reliable used cars in the UK.http://cars.uk.msn.com/Photo_Gallery/Popup_page.aspx?cp-documentid=1316 5156&dub-gallery-photo-number=1
However, if the Jaguar does break, it costs an arm and a leg (average over £500) to fix. Ouch.It seemed prudent to me to take out an AA Warranty that costs less than £25 per month and so far, thankfully, I have not had to claim against it.
At first I was happy enough with the Jaguar brakes. But having driven a Vauxhall Meriva during the time the Jaguar was in the workshop getting a new clutch, when I got back into my beloved Jaguar I noticed the brakes seemed really spongy and had poor performance. I posted a query about it on a Jaguar forum (see the Useful links below) and was advised to change the brakes to drilled discs and red-stuff (or green stuff) pads. I was also given a code to get 15% discount. Thankfully, the Jaguar has about 22% parts commonality with the Ford Mondeo (even though it is a very different car) and it turns out brake discs and pads are one of those parts. That helped the price as well and I got an entire replacement set of discs and pads for £300. Braking performance has been much better ever since.Sadly, there was a hidden gotcha! in this story. Annoyingly, when I last went to get insurance quotes online, I reported (honestly) that I had modified the brakes. Far too many insurance providers seized on this as evidence that I was some sort of boy racer (instead of a safety conscious middle-aged man) and refused to even quote me. So if you do get this modification done, I recommend you get IAM membership first and then go to IAM Surety for insurance.
They say that the course of true love never runs smooth. But after the initial infatuation, when all is sweetness and light, comes a more mature love, which is no longer blind to imperfections but accepts them endearingly. In that spirit then, be advised of the following. If you are a perfectionist who lies awake at night worrying about minor details, then knowing this stuff could save you some beauty sleep. (But, then again, with that sort of attitude, you'll probably find something else to worry about anyway.)Heavy gear box. With 210 lb ft torque it's hardly surprising the manual gearbox is sometimes a bit heavy to shift. Sometimes in very cold weather, the shift baulks against going into first or reverse. (Apparently, according to a Jaguar spokesperson speaking to another X-Type owner with the same problem, this can be caused in the X-Type by a mechanic fitting a replacement clutch without greasing the splines. The owner was reassured by the Jaguar spokesperson that it would not cause any long term problems.) The workaround is simple: slot the gear into second, then move it quickly into the desired gear. The result is smoother than James Bond after two of his famous shaken Martinis.
The boot lock was evidently designed by an admirer of the teeth on the great white shark. It juts down prominently when the boot is open, in just the right position to give the unwary a bump on the noggin. Thankfully it's surrounded by reasonably soft plastic, but watch out for it anyway!
My car suffers from the infamous X-Type "squeaky steering column". I actually find it rather endearing. It's caused by dried up seals in the steering column. There is a standard fix but it involves taking the car to a Jaguar dealer, who puts a special kind of lubricating oil into it at a precise temperature known only to Jaguar dealers and gourmet chefs.
1. Jaguar customer service (very polite and helpful): www.jaguar.co.uk2. Online community of Jaguar owners and useful information:
3. Online Jaguar X-Type Forum: www.x-type.org.uk4. Online Jaguar forum: www.jaguarforum.co.uk
4. The Institute of Advanced Motorists: www.iam.org.uk5. Jaguar owner information (all sorts of service documents and other freebies): www.ownerinfo.jaguar.com
6. EBC brakes (source of brake solutions for Jaguars etc) www.ebcbrakesdirect.com
My X-Type will be a hard act to follow. This has been my first Jaguar and hopefully it will not be my last. A beautiful, very special car, that I recommend you consider - and embark upon your "own affair of the heart".
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