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Old 06-26-2004, 19:41   #1 (permalink)
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US:2004 Jaguar X-Type

2004 Jaguar X-Type
More Kit, Less Dear

By MARK VAUGHN/AUTOWEEK



2004 JAGUAR X-TYPE
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $29,995
POWERTRAIN: 2.5-liter, 192-hp, 178-lb-ft V6; awd, five-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 3428 pounds
0 TO 60 MPH: 7.9 seconds (mfr.)

In the two full years the Jaguar X-Type has been offered in the United States, it has accounted for more than half of the company's business here. So when X-Type sales dropped from 33,018 the first year to 26,772 last year, Jaguar snapped to attention. The result is the repackaged, re-priced and significantly improved 2004 X-Type you see here.

In addition to numerous engineering upgrades, the new X-Type offers more stuff (aka kit) at a lower price. Specifically, you get a $3,000 reduction from last year's sticker and you get $2,000 more in standard features. That's, uh, a $5,000 value!

What form of voodoo economics makes this possible? Simple, says Mike O'Driscoll, whose title is president of Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover North America, but who looks and sounds more like his title should be "Squadron Leader O'Driscoll."

"In truth, we realigned the MSRP to the transaction price we had seen in the last 12 months," O'Driscoll said. "It had been inflated MSRPs and heavy incentives."

We expected him to follow that up with, "Spot of tea?" But he didn't.

O'Driscoll pointed out that the sales decline was more or less in line with the overall industry in 2003. That, and the new XJ eating up some of the X-Type sales.

Yes, yes, you say, enough of this business tripe, I'm a car guy (or gal), so what did they do to the car?

Well, they made the X-Type quieter for one thing, with improvements like a lower driveshaft speed, plunging CV joints and a double-isolated final drive.

The car handles better, with equal-length front driveshafts and improvements to the steering for a better feel. The manual shifter has a lighter action.

And the interior gets lots of little ergo-nomic upgrades that are a direct result of customer complaints about the old X-Type, new features like buttons that won't catch long fingernails, and an ice-warning message that doesn't keep popping up and popping up and popping up until you want to go and lease a freakin' Bimmer. Stuff like that.

But some things haven't changed with the X-Type. You still feel vaguely like you're driving a Ford, for instance, something that drives the Jaguar staff bonkers if it is ever brought up. The X-Type is descended from the Ford Mondeo, after all. And the styling, depending on your perspective, of course, is still not quite as elegant or as sporty as you might expect from a Jaguar.

On the other hand, the car still has all-wheel drive, which is mighty handy fun in winter driving. We found this out at the Bridgestone/Jaguar Ice Driving School in the hills west of Steamboat Springs, Colorado (now closed for the summer). The school promises hilarious good times, and not just because it changes its name every week depending on which car company is renting the facility out.



Under the watchful eyes of instructors, we spent a day flinging X-Types around the school's ice- and snow-covered road course. Our test car was a 3.0-liter V6 model with the automatic transmission placed in second gear, but the X-Type is available with a 2.5-liter version of the same V6 block as well. The 2.5 gets a five-speed manual standard and the five-speed automatic as an option. The 3.0-liter model comes with the five-speed automatic standard and with the five-speed manual as a no-cost option.

It was rather entertaining to find that a car of such elegant cachet could be abused with such glee. But we spent the day doing pendulum turns around icy corners and never once bent a fender on a snowbank.

While you will likely treat your own Jaguar with better regard, it's nice to know that it will rise to the occasion should you need it to.

The last, best thing about this car is still the price. Lease deals of $2,999 down and $279 a month were commonplace at press time, a price for which European elegance, if you see it that way, is accessible to a much larger audience. Stickers for the X-Type start at $29,995 for a 2.5-liter and rise to just over $40,000 for the 3.0-liter model, depending on whether you add the premium, sport or luxury package.

It's just a juggling of prices and packag-ing, but it makes for a more marketable car, which is a good thing for buyers. Tell the sig- nificant other you ordered a Jaguar. If he/she isn't a car guy/gal, the heavy Ford connection might not be apparent, and you will be in gravy for months. Perhaps years. That's Jaguar's plan, too.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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