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2004 Jaguar X-type 3.0
First: 2004 Infiniti G35
As a rebodied, retuned Ford Mondeo (nee discontinued Contour), the X-type actually makes quite a good Jaguar. But it lacks just enough power, refinement, and driver-interface quality to net a lower score than its competitors.
Without a horde of segment rivals snapping at its heels, and driven the way a sensible owner would drive, the X-type feels competent enough. The ride is smooth and the 3.0-liter V-6, despite facing east-west rather than the north-south of true Jag orientation, provides convincing acceleration and passing power. The engine has too much of a gobbling roar (overlaid with a sometimes penetrating whine) to be really representative of the Jaguar pedigree, but it gets the job done. Unfortunately, the refinement is also hurt by tire clomp over bad pavement and by shrill wind noise from the mirrors.
The steering is a better match with the marque’s reputation, providing clear and accurate path control. Only thing is, it’s really too light to provide unambiguous feedback when the driver is pushing hard through the hills. Fast cornering soon brings to light the Jag’s determined and constant understeer, alleviated somewhat by a stability-control system that allows the driver to come off the throttle in bends while the device applies various brakes and measures to keep the car on its intended arc.
Undulating and twisty road sections highlight the X-type’s fairly soft springing, making it bob and weave. Some drivers found the gearing inappropriate for tight, fast work, with a brake pedal that would go soggy underfoot and fail to provide a reassuring sense of reserve braking power.
Despite the Jag’s compact dimensions, there is adequate space for tall drivers and the seat is decently supportive. Shorter drivers found that the aggressive seatback bolstering fit them well; taller pilots felt as if they were leaning on an inflatable ring. Most agreed that the wood and leather interior was entirely appropriate to the Jag’s British traditions but found the rear seat wanting for space if not for comfort. The Jag’s designers included numerous stash spaces for odds and ends, which help offset the somewhat limited passenger space.
This test was all about manual transmissions, and the X-type’s five-speed is acceptable in operation but has a rubbery feel. Overall, this is the kind of car that gives its best when driven in the sweet spot for which it was so clearly tuned. And that is the brisk but not berserk pace of a grand tourer, where transitions are gradual and deliberate, and no savage demands are made. Don’t get us wrong, the Jag will tolerate being driven like a bank robber’s getaway steed–and make good speed in the process. It just doesn’t like it.