If the Jaguar X-type was meant to introduce the brand to younger buyers, the company now has a second chance to lower the average age of the Jaguar driver. Research has shown that those choosing an estate car today are significantly younger than their saloon car counterparts and are more likely to participate in active sports than they are to spectate.
So while the Jaguar XJ panders to the boardroom, the X-type estate should attract more of the younger middle and senior management types who need to satisfy their competitive instincts outside the office, perhaps by skiing or mountain biking.
Designed to beat its German rivals in the provision of usable load volume, the new hold-all is also claimed to offer an unrivalled blend of refinement and practicality.
Jaguar says the compact premium estate market is sophisticated, well-established and aggressive. The X-type estate is aiming at the likes of BMW and Audi, whose 3-series Touring and A4 Avant are the lifestyle estates of choice in the compact premium sector, with the Mercedes C-class also having a presence.Significantly, the X-type also emerges as the front-runner on pricing, with aggressive positioning giving it advantages of between £500 and more than £3,000 over the 3-series Touring, C-class estate and A4 Avant.
The core target customer for the X-type estate is predominantly male in his mid-30s, with a 'comfortable' income and 'active lifestyle'.
Additionally, it is aimed at company car drivers who do not want the compromised driving dynamics of an MPV or sport utility vehicle, but need the extra load-carrying ability and have a family.
The X-type estate line-up reflects that of the saloon, with Classic, SE and Sport variants – the SE featuring more exterior chrome than the Classic, while the Sport has a body-coloured radiator grille and no chrome.
The 2.0d is available in the estate as a front-wheel drive variant, while the 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre V6s are all-wheel drive. A 2.0-litre petrol version is available on special order.
It has been designed to offer the versatility of a true estate car, with the tailgate opening through a wide angle, while the rear window also opens independently.
Its total luggage volume with the rear seats folded adds up to 1,415 litres, beating the A4 Avant's 1,184 litres, and comfortably ahead of the 3-series Touring's 1,345 litres and the 1,384 litres available in the C-class. The rear seats can fold forward without removing the headrests.
Some versions also allow extra stowage width in boxes with removable flaps and a neat underfloor compartment is fitted with a power supply so laptop computer batteries can be recharged in transit.
The X-type estate also benefits from revisions to the X-type range for 2004, with steering wheel-mounted audio controls on SE and Sport models, front parking sensors in conjunction with the optional rear parking sensors and a new 'bolt-on' front end structure to reduce weight and repair time after an accident.
Alcantara trim is offered on Sport models as well as carbon fibre trim, and new black-faced dials are fitted across the range.
Behind the wheel
Research shows that appearance is now the most important factor that influences the motorist's decision to buy an estate.
So it's just as well that the first hold-all model from Jaguar is a good looker from every angle, thanks to a design that puts a sophisticated slant on transport of the load-lugging kind.
Completely changed from behind the B-pillar, the new car's bodywork adopts a more flowing style than the saloon and its gently tapered rear end has a more elegant appearance.
Specially strengthened to provide substantially greater torsional rigidity than the saloon despite the large tailgate aperture, the first production estate to wear a Jaguar badge is being marketed as a no-compromise model, complete with a split door to aid loading. Fixed roof rails come as standard and a wide range of carrying systems are available as options.
But the fact that the new X-type estate lives up to its kerbside promise out on the open is even more significant in a sector dominated by products with hard-won reputations for quality.
With high-output engines, sharp steering and agile handling, the most practical car yet from Jaguar performs in a manner that complements its appearance that many will consider more attractive than the saloon on which it is based.
The model's driving dynamics are at their best in the all-drive versions with 2.5 and 3.0-litre petrol engines, but the combination of sprightly performance and excellent economy on the combined cycle makes the front-drive, 2.0-litre turbodiesel variants better suited to the fleet sector – and at a P11D price of £20,992, the well-equipped Classic is good value.
Jaguar might have arrived late at the diesel party, but the X-type estate looks to have all it needs to make a big impression.
MORE glass in the rear gives the interior of the X-type estate a lighter and more airy ambience than the saloon, but the car feels just as classy on the move. A well-muted engine and supple ride make the entry-level turbodiesel the pick of the bunch.
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||157/6,800||194/6,800||231/6,800||128/3,800|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||148/4,100||180/3,000||209/3,000||244/1,800|
|Max speed (mph):||128||138||144||123|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||30.5||29.0||27.3||48.7|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||224||239||249||154|
|Fuel tank capacity (l/gal):||13.5/61.5||Transmission:||5-sp man/5-sp auto|