While Audi has Avant, BMW has Touring, Alfa Romeo has Sportwagon, Volvo has Sports Wagon, Renault has Sport Tourer and Rover and Honda have Tourer.
Criticism of Jaguar’s styling direction over the past few years with its retro design might have led some to expect the term ‘shooting brake’ as a description of the wagon.
Instead, the word ‘estate’ seems to have done the job.
The front-wheel drive diesel X-type estate is likely to be the strongest-selling variant: with such a high proportion of corporate sales in the sector, diesel is the fuel of choice to minimise benefit-in-kind tax liability.
Although this X-type diesel is not yet Euro IV compliant, it is the same muscular four-cylinder unit as found in the Ford Mondeo, developing 128bhp and 244lb-ft of torque. It’s enough to propel the X-type estate to 60mph from a standing start in about 10 seconds and, according to Jaguar, the car will run out of steam at 123mph.
The design of the rear is easy on the eye and it has one of those versatile tailgates with opening glass for smaller items.
There is also a useful amount of space back at the business end of the car, with 455 litres up to window level with the rear seats in place (BMW 3-series Touring has 435 litres, Audi A4 Avant has 442 litres and the Mercedes-Benz C-class estate offers 470 litres).
Fold the rear seats and measure to roof height and the volume increases to 1,415 litres (the BMW reaches 1,345 litres, the Audi only 1,184 and the C-class 1,354), while the load surface is virtually flat.
The Jaguar interior is a slightly incongruous mix of traditional and modern. The wooden dashboard in the Sport model uses ‘piano black’ veneer – a change from the walnutted SE – but the centre of the dashboard when not fitted with touch-screen sat-nav has larger areas of unoccupied plastic. As some of the touch-screen functions are taken by switchgear shared with other products, it seems more obvious.
However, driving the X-type is an unadulterated pleasure. The diesel engine is always restrained in volume but eager to perform. Maximum torque is available from 1,750rpm to 2,500rpm and it is delivered in a well-mannered and discreet fashion. The steering is both communicative and precise and quickly builds confidence in the X-type’s handling ability behind the wheel.
There is a little more roll than in a BMW-3-series and you can never replicate the uncorrupted steering feel of a rear-wheel drive car in a front-wheel drive car, but it’s near enough the best handling front-driver in the compact premium sector and offers a more compliant ride than an Audi A4.
With a car so smooth and suave in its behaviour, it’s a shame that there is no automatic option. BMW and Mercedes-Benz offer conventional automatics and Audi provides a fuel-consumption-neutral Multitronic continuously variable transmission. However, the X-type was the first diesel Jaguar as well as the first production estate, so I suppose we shouldn’t expect development to move too fast.
Three rivals to consider
JAGUARS have always represented good value when comparing list prices with premium rivals and the X-type diesel estate is no exception. In high-ish specification Sport trim, it undercuts the similarly-powered Audi as well as the less powerful Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
ANOTHER strong round for the Jaguar, with an expected SMR bill of £1,674 over three years/60,000 miles, barely more than you would expect for a volume player and beating the Audi A4 by £72. The Mercedes-Benz bill would be £2,346, significantly more than the Jaguar and Audi. BMW appears closer to the C-class at first glance but offers free servicing on the 3-series, which should result in the lowest bill of all four, much lower than the anticipated £2,298.
THE Jaguar matches the Audi and BMW on fuel, all three achieving 48.7mpg on the combined cycle. The fuel bill for all three works out at £5,064. The Mercedes-Benz, looks out of place. Larger Mercs like the E-class and CLK score well with their five and six-cylinder models fitted with automatic transmission, but this four-cylinder model has a 60,000-mile fuel bill of £5,946 – £900 more than the others.
ALL four cars have similar retained value, but the Jaguar falls £120 behind the Audi for depreciation with an estimated loss of £13,260. The Mercedes-Benz would lose £13,836, while the BMW would depreciate by £14,514. The fact that all these cars are diesel-fuelled and estates improve their chances at disposal time compared with equivalent petrol saloons.
THE Audi A4 noses ahead after being closely shadowed by the Jaguar throughout the running costs calculations, the final margin of victory being £48. The BMW would be far closer to them than the figures suggest, thanks to the 3-series free servicing offer being continued. The Mercedes-Benz is more than £2,000 adrift of the Jaguar, a significant proportion of which is its fuel cost, but also higher servicing bills and depreciation on its higher list price.
Emissions and BIK tax rates
ONLY two of our quartet comply with Euro IV emissions requirements, neither of which are our test car. Although the Jaguar has low CO2 emissions for its size, it is burdened with the 3% diesel supplement, resulting in a monthly bill of £146 for a 40% taxpayer, rising to £154 in the next financial year. The Euro IV-compliant 3-series works out at £140 a month, £148 from April 2005. Audi’s 115bhp 1.9 TDI is Euro IV compliant, but this 130bhp version would cost a driver £148 a month (£156 next year). The Euro IV C200 CDI works out at £179 a month – £187 from April 2005.
PRACTICAL and refined, the diesel X-type estate just misses out on our running costs slot by the narrowest of margins. However, it is smoother, roomier and better equipped than the Audi, which would make it our choice. The BMW’s position is not as distant as you might expect if you factor in the free servicing. If it came to a choice between the BMW and Audi and costs were equal, the smoother, more practical 3-series would get our vote.
WINNER: Jaguar X-type estate 2.0 D Sport
Jaguar X-type estate 2.0 D Sport
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value) £23,092
CO2 emissions (g/km) 154
BIK % of P11D in 2004 19%
Graduated VED rate £135
Insurance group 13
Combined mpg 48.7
CAP Monitor residual value £8,900/39%
Depreciation 22.10 pence per mile x 60,000 £13,260
Maintenance 2.91 pence per mile x 60,000 £1,736
Fuel 8.44 pence per mile x 60,000 £5,064
Wholelife cost 33.33 pence per mile x 60,000 £19.99
Typical contract hire rate £470 per month
All figures based on 3yrs/60,000 miles. Monthly rental quote from HSBC Vehicle Finance
At a glance