Follow-Up Test: 2002 Jaguar X-Type 2.5


Friday, April 3, 2009

Road Tests

Follow-Up Test: 2002 Jaguar X-Type 2.5


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Vehicle Tested:
2002 Jaguar X-Type 2.5 4dr AWD Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
MSRP of Test Vehicle: 39520 Price It!!

Kittie Redux

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The first Jaguar X-Type to find its way to our offices — a 3.0 automatic — left on unpleasant terms. You can read the road test here. In short, we were disappointed with the car's very poor build quality, ill-natured drivetrain and high price.

Only after we had written and posted our review of the car did we learn that the car had been a pre-production model. A pre-production car is a car is like a beta version of a software program — it's used for demonstration and evaluation purposes of an all-new vehicle. While we do receive pre-production cars on occasion, they are almost always identified as such by the automaker, indicating that the particular sample is not necessarily a fully accurate representative of the line.

Not long after our road test appeared, we acquired an X-Type 2.5. After inspection, this one seemed much more solidly built than the previous car. With about 6,000 miles on the odometer (a fairly high number for a car loaned out to the media), the only quality issues we encountered were a non-functional remotely operated fuel filler door (it refused to open until one of our editors fixed it by repositioning the internal spring), a misaligned center console lid and a loose rubber lip that had become unglued from the left-side dash storage pocket.

We thought we had a production car on our hands until — oops! — Jaguar called and said that this car, too, was pre-production. So, as of this writing, we still have not driven a production version of the X-Type. However, we will say that there have been no recalls posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the X-Type so far, nor has there been an excessive amount of Technical Service Bulletins issued. In our Town Hall posts, X-Type owners have not been complaining excessively about mechanical problems or the build-quality mistakes we encountered with the 3.0.

Based on these indicators, it seems the X-Type, in terms of build quality, isn't particularly worse than any other luxury car's first-year release. However, circumspect durability was only one of the issues we had with our X-Type 3.0. Having a 2.5 gave us another opportunity to examine Jaguar's entry-level luxury sport sedan.

The X-Type 2.5 features a 2.5-liter V6. Its architecture is similar to the 3.0's, with dual overhead camshafts, aluminum block and heads, continuously variable valve timing and a three-stage variable intake manifold consisting of the highlights. This leads up to some pretty impressive power numbers: 194 hp at 6,800 rpm and 180 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. Both of these numbers compare favorably to base models of other entry-level luxury sedans. For instance, the Audi A4 1.8T sports 170 hp, the BMW 325i makes 184 hp, the Mercedes Benz C240 has 168 hp and the Volvo S60 2.4T has 197 hp. A five-speed manual is standard, with a five-speed automatic being optional. Our test car had the automatic.

The engine makes pleasant noises when revved, and the power delivery is linear and smooth. After a few acceleration runs up freeway entrance ramps, however, it seemed to us that the 2.5 could use another bowl of Wheaties. Instrumented acceleration tests confirmed this impression. From a standing start, our 2.5 took more than 10 seconds to reach 60 mph. Only when we used a torque-brake launch — a technique used on an automatic-equipped car to bring the revs up before the car is launched — did the numbers become more respectable. Our best time was 9.1 seconds to 60 mph with the quarter-mile passing by in 16.9 seconds. Most front-wheel-drive family sedans with 200-hp V6s (like the Honda Accord) accelerate from 0 to 60 in the 7-second range.

The 3.0 we tested was also slower than expected. Our best guess as to the discrepancy between listed engine specs and actual performance is the standard Jaguar Traction-4 all-wheel-drive. It's a given that all-wheel-drive systems are less efficient than front- or rear-drive systems. Recent vehicles we've tested with all-wheel drive include a BMW 325xi wagon and a Subaru WRX wagon. Both had automatics, and both were quicker than the Jag. If you're looking for speed, going with a manual-transmission car would probably improve the 0-to-60 time by about a half of a second.

Traction-4 does make the Jag more sure-footed during inclement weather, however. This is certainly an advantage to potential buyers living in states where snow and rain are frequent. Additionally, the system wasn't schizophrenic like the one on the X-Type 3.0 we had. During spirited driving, the 2.5 was balanced and controlled and certainly felt more involving than other front-drive luxury sedans. Brake testing showed the car could haul down from 60 mph in a short 119 feet. The steering, too, was enjoyable thanks to its quick responses during cornering. Adding the Sport package would certainly make the car even more fun to drive. We did notice that, like the 3.0, the X-Type 2.5 has trouble damping out harsh road surfaces, however, so additional suspension refinement would likely add to the car's luxury feel.

Transmission performance was better in this car, as well. Shifts were smooth, and the transmission responded more quickly to throttle inputs. But that's about all that can be said positively. Compared to the top-shelf automatics like the one found in the Lexus IS 300, the X-Type's is a step behind in shift speed and crispness. The J-gate shifter, too, is not as useful for sporting purposes as other sequential-shift manual-mode transmissions that require just a push of a button or flick of the lever to change gears.

In terms of luxury, one commendable aspect of the 2.5 is that it comes with plenty of equipment. Leather and real wood trim are standard, as is automatic climate control, one-touch up/down windows and cruise control. During our time with the car, bystanders and other motorists were continually impressed by the car and its exterior styling. When directed to tell us what they thought the car cost, many of them guessed in the range of $60,000 to $70,000.

That's a quality every owner of an entry luxury car would like. Indeed, the 2.5's base price is a tad more than $30,000. Loading up the options can quickly raise the price, however. Our test car had nearly every option installed, including the X1 Premium Package, automatic transmission, Alpine audio system with trunk-mounted CD changer, navigation system, X3 Weather package and Carnival Red exterior. Total price? A rather astonishing $39,520. Even our typically loaded BMW 3 Series press cars rarely cost that much, and we regularly comment on how BMWs reside on the expensive end of a given market's price range. On the flipside, our TMV pricing has suggested that Jaguar dealers are willing to discount the X-Type, so its MSRP may not be a realistic representation of what you'll have to pay.

Indeed, most of the X-Type discussions on Town Hall involved not build quality, but value. The X-Type is a capable car, with plenty of luxury features and infused with classic style. But is it a better — or more rewarding — car than the frontrunners in this class? Our answer is still no, especially considering that cars like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 are nearly equal or even less expensive in price.


2002 Jaguar X-Type 2.5 - Badge

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(Photo by Scott Jacobs)

2002 Jaguar X-Type 2.5 - Front

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Based on bystander reactions, the X-Type is one of the best-looking entry luxury sedans available. This photo shows accessory wheels that weren't on our test car. (Photo courtesy of Jaguar Cars North America)

2002 Jaguar X-Type 2.5 - Interior

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The Ivory interior is quite luxurious in appearance. Keeping it clean long-term will likely be a major hassle. (Photo by Scott Jacobs)

2002 Jaguar X-Type 2.5 - Rear

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Traditional Jaguar cues include the headlight-matching hood and swept rear door pillar. (Photo courtesy of Jaguar Cars North America)