Jaguar X-Type 3.0 Sovereign
by Craig Cheetham
The firm might be struggling right now, but Jaguar's X-Type is enjoying its biggest-ever success. The Cat's answer to the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class suffered early on with a lack of model variety. But the new diesel and estate have given it a much needed boost, and put it on course to double its 2002 sales this year.
Now, the X-Type has been revised for the next model year. It gets reprofiled bumpers, repositioned foglamps, a new choice of alloys and fresh door mirrors. There are two new spec levels, too: Sports Premium - which features carbon fibre trim and 18-inch alloys - and the range-topping Sovereign driven here.
It's the first time the famous Sovereign badge has graced the X-Type. At £31,670, it's the most costly variant yet, and comes only as a saloon. It incorporates burr walnut trim and steering wheel, electric leather seats and DVD-based sat-nav. But most of the changes are under the skin, with revised suspension to deliver a less jittery ride without hampering cornering ability.
While the 4WD chassis doesn't offer the ride quality of the XJ, the X-Type is composed and feels more refined than the 3-Series. Our test car also appeared to be better built than earlier versions, with a more upmarket feel.
The 3.0-litre V6 is vastly rewarding and super smooth, while the auto box is one of the compact executive class's better self-shifters, with seamless changes and Jaguar's trademark J-gate set-up. This allows the driver to swap ratios more than one at a time. Yet the car still lacks the sporting edge of its key German rivals. Instead, discretion is at the core of its appeal, and if you want a model in which to make progress quickly, but without drawing attention to yourself, it's a classy alternative.
Jaguar must sustain the X-Type's sales growth to get back into profit, and the latest version builds on the original's strengths. But despite its talents, the Sovereign's price encroaches on territory occupied by full-size executive models such as the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-Series - which means it's destined to remain a low-volume seller in the X-Type line-up.
At a Glance
* Facelifted range on sale now
* Starts at £19,995 for 2.0 S