Jaguar X-Type 2.2 Estate - The Verdict

Touch wood (and leather), for Jaguar has broken four taboos - and managed to get away with all but its new front-wheel drive, says David Wilkins

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Model: Jaguar X-Type 2.2 Diesel Sport estate
Price: £24,165
Engine: 2.2 litre diesel
Performance: 0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds, 45.6 mpg
CO2: 164 g/km
Worth considering: Audi A4 Avant, Mercedes C-class estate, BMW 3 Series estate

Even the least superstitious among us might hesitate to tempt fate by deliberately breaking four taboos in one go. Yet that is what Jaguar did when it introduced the first version of the car we are testing this week.

For a start, it was an estate; previous Jaguars had always been coupés, convertibles, or sporty saloons. But the three big departures from most people's notion of a Jag came under the bonnet: diesel power, four cylinders and front-wheel drive.

Traditionally, Jaguars drank petrol because diesel engines were rough, slow and smelly; OK for taxis, but not for Jags. Four-cylinder engines were shunned for the similar reasons. And front-wheel drive might have taken over most of the market, but makers of more expensive cars, who didn't need to save space or money, avoided that layout.

So, with the benefit of a few years' hindsight, did Jaguar get away with all this taboo breaking? I think the company was vindicated on three counts, but not quite on the fourth. The taboo against Jag estates now seems silly; the estate X-Type is practical and looks better than the saloon. And the engine fitted to this car is so smooth and strong that the taboos against four cylinder or diesel-powered Jags are shattered, too.

But I'm not sure a front-wheel drive Jag hits the mark. It's not that adopting this layout necessarily makes the X-Type worse to drive; it's just that rear-wheel drive would have shown that the company was more protective and understanding of its heritage, and prepared to go a bit further to reassure the buyers of its cheapest car that they were buying a "proper" Jag.

If you're not obsessed with the purity of automotive bloodlines, though, this car makes a strong case for itself. Two features in particular make it ideal for the high-mileage driver. The first is the diesel engine, now with 2.2 litres, which is capable of pulling long gearing, and producing quiet and relaxed cruising in sixth that is only slightly marred by wind and road noise. The second is the satellite navigation set-up. Sat-nav systems are used heavily on the Verdict, as we take the test to readers in every corner of the country, and the X-Type's -with its full postcode input and superb graphics - is one of the best.

Finally, anyone spending a lot of time in the X-Type will have to be able to get on with its rather traditional British interior. Personally, I liked it, although it was also a sad reminder of what we have lost with the demise of the Rover 75, which did that wood and leather thing so well.

Paul Killner, 37, and Tom, 11, IT consultant from Thornbury, Bristol
USUAL CAR: VAUXHALL ASTRA 1.7CDTI

As we approached the Jaguar, Tom nodded in approval at the paint job, the fat wheels and the leather upholstery. The verdict: this was a "cool car", and in retrospect I think that sums the car up very nicely. Sitting in the driver's seat, in the very smartly appointed cabin, everything falls to hand easily. Lots of toys, sat-nav, electric seats etc. On start up you can tell it is a diesel, but it is nowhere near as intrusive as the 1.7 unit in my Astra, and once on the move it was barely audible. The six-speed gearbox and clutch are light. Would I buy one? Yes. There is plenty of room for the kids, it is relaxing to drive and it is a relatively rare sight on the road, which is "cool".

Michael Shotter, 66, Community regeneration officer from St Werburgh's, Bristol
USUAL CAR: CITROEN XM 2 LITRE TURBO

The name Jaguar stirs memories of high-speed trips in a Mark V 50 years ago on the Blackdown Hills. This Ford-designed Halewood Jaguar was less exciting. I liked the six gears and the acceleration in sixth. I thought the clutch was good. The low RPM to reach 70mph was impressive, so was the quiet engine. I was happy with the seats. The suspension, judged against the incomparable XM, was acceptable. I disliked the tyre and wind noise. I also disliked the thick front pillars. The windscreen lacked height, making me feel I needed to lower my head. The front of the cabin is adequate, but I'm used to more space.

Tom Begg, 56, Management consultant from Abergavenny, South Wales
USUAL CARS: BMW 3 SERIES, AMC JAVELIN SST COUPE, FORD KA

Who buys Jaguar estates? For me the saloon shape is all about echoes of the old Mark Is and IIs, so although the estate is OK it does not have quite the same cachet. Inside is fine, but nothing much to excite, either. Maybe you are expected to be completely overwhelmed by the sat-nav, which has a screen bigger than the TV in our bedroom. Everything is electric but actually the instrumentation is a bit sparse. The driving experience is much the same - nothing wrong with it but a long way short of inspirational. The 2.2 diesel is quiet and has more than enough power for most.

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