You don’t see this quite as much as you used to, but every now and then car manufacturers build something that is a complete catastrophe. They throw all this money into a new product which doesn’t sell and then hardworking employees end up losing their jobs and get sent home in letdown automobiles like the Cadillac Catera, Fiat 500L or the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. I-MiEV. You know a car is already doomed when you’re not even sure how to pronounce it.
About a decade and a half ago, when Jaguar was owned by Ford, it built the X-Type to compete in the hot entry-level luxury sedan segment with BMW and Audi. The X-Type was manufactured from 2001 to 2009 but never came anywhere close to meeting Jaguar’s goal of selling 100,000 X-Types per year.
According to the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club, 2003 was the X-Type’s best year with around 50,000 cars sold, but it was all downhill from there.
The X-Type was launched amid much fanfare in 2001 but it was troubled from the very beginning. Reviews were mixed. Some critics thought that the new X-Type was a perfectly capable and competitive premium compact sedan, while others hated the fact that it was based on the Ford Mondeo platform. People seemed to think that the X-Type was really a Ford disguised as a Jag that cheapened the Jaguar brand.
But I didn’t care. I remember being so excited when my dad bought a brand new Jag X-Type in 2003—I mean, it was a Jaaaaaaag—because it looked so cool. As it sat there in the garage, the shiny Jag exuded nobility and prestige, even though he paid roughly $40,000 for it, same as what he would’ve paid for a 3-series BMW or an A4. I loved it.
But no one else seemed to love it. In the last year of production, Jaguar sold only a handful of the X-Types,probably at a huge discount to moms, grandpas and cousins of Ford employees. I think the thing never got the chance it deserved, and is one of the most misunderstood, under-appreciated and unnecessarily reviled cars.
Much of the hate stems from the fact that Jaguar would stoop so low as to incorporate lowly Ford parts into a heralded and majestic Jaguar product. With the X-Type, no longer was a Jaguar an imperial, noble, V8-powered luxury liner floating on the road. Instead, it was merely a fancy Ford, allowing normal people to be able to buy one. Jaguar enthusiasts were horrified.
“The X-Type is for peasants,” they said, before going back to cheating on their taxes.
“How dare Jaguar cater to the common man!”, they shrieked, their monocles falling into their champagne glasses.
“I can’t believe that the Jag X-Type has been tainted by a Ford. How pathetic. The diseased X-Type must be demolished,” they cried, so dejected they couldn’t even find the willpower to attend their ritualistic masked orgies.
But it’s not like the X-type is simply a Mondeo with a Jaguar shell slapped on it. There were enough tweaks made to the Mondeo platform to where the X-Type is still significantly different. As the UK’s Telegraph reported at the time, Ford components were definitely used, but most of the car was still freshly built and engineered.
I’ve driven many Fords in my life and I used to own a Ford Mustang. You won’t sit in a 2003 Ford followed by a 2003 X-Type and think: “Hmm... the X-Type is a Ford pretending to be a Jag.” In fact, had Jaguar never disclosed the fact that it borrowed the Mondeo platform, as a consumer you might never know that the X-Type had some Ford in it. But that didn’t stop people from totally shunning the X-Type with New York Times calling it the Dud of the Decade.
I still think that it’s a great car. And I’m not saying this because my dad wants me to say only nice things about it. He just said that if I don’t speak highly of his car, he will remove me from his will. (Of course, I’m joking. He’ll only reduce my inheritance from 100 percent to 50 percent.)
Don’t get me wrong, the X-Type is not perfect and is not as good as an E46 BMW 3 Series. But it’s a fun car nonetheless and it looks good on the road. It’s a true Jag and definitely carries itself as such. Because very few people own one, you don’t see these very often. My dad has mentioned that his car sometimes turns heads and the occasional person at a gas station will come up to him complimenting the car. It’s probably the only $2,500 car from the early 2000s on the road today that gets this kind of a response. Yes, that’s how much a 2003 X-Type with 85,000 miles is worth today.
My dad’s Jag doesn’t have the 3.0-liter V6 that I really wished he would’ve gotten. Instead it has the 2.5-liter version, which is still decently powerful at 194 horsepower. There’s a nice growl to it, and it’s peppy enough to keep things interesting for a relatively small four-door sedan. I enjoy how it drives—it’s well balanced and sporty while still being quiet and luxurious at the same time.
The interior has a nicely-done wood finish, a simple yet refined dash along with eye-pleasing gauges. There might be some Ford switches and parts in there, but, you wouldn’t mistake this car for a Ford. It is absolutely a Jag—otherwise the Queen of England wouldn’t have owned one.
This one has all-wheel-drive which was great for the snow that my dad encountered a bunch while he was living in Michigan. I’m surprised at how well this car has held up over 14 years and has been unusually reliable over the years. Outside of normal maintenance, my dad has had to get a few suspension components replaced, but that’s about it.
Barring any huge engine or transmission failures, with normal maintenance and regular “old car repairs,” the car should last for many more years. I have to say that I’m pretty impressed by the X-Type. Sure, it will be expensive to maintain because it’s a Jag, but, for the price of a high-end refrigerator you can get your hands on a car that was recently owned by British royalty, Her Majesty The Queen.
You could do worse.