From £26,065
Superb new diesel engine and same fine dynamics can't stop the X-type feeling its age.

Our Verdict

Jaguar XE

Jaguar's first attempt at a compact exec saloon is good - very good. But can the XE hold off the BMW 3 Series and Alfa Romeo Guilia to retain its crown?

21 June 2005

Inserting a potent and refined new 2.2-litre turbodiesel under the bonnet of the Jaguar X-type has two very different effects on the overall package. Mechanically, this engine is identical to that found in the Ford Mondeo ST diesel. It’s a strong, linear motor with 153bhp at 3500rpm and 266lb ft of torque at just 1800rpm, or 295lb ft on temporary ‘overboost’. Mechanical smoothness is far better than in the Mondeo, to the extent that the engine sometimes feels like it has a couple of extra cylinders. 

The estate version felt friskier than the claimed 8.9sec 0-60mph time and it wasn’t difficult to wind the speedometer up to near the 134mph maximum. The only downside is the gear ratios: having the number ‘6’ on the gearlever may get the marketing boys in a lather, but the powerband in each gear is too narrow. Luckily, the X-type still has the chassis to express this excellent powertrain, even in front-wheel-drive guise. The steering is beautifully weighted and this Sport model has more damping composure than most owners will ever need.

But there is nothing that highlights the weaknesses of an ageing package like the late insertion of a heroic new component. The X-type wagon was never beautiful, but has always had a graceful line that this new bodykit savages remorselessly. Step inside and the X-type really shows its age. Poor-quality materials and a want of space are the main negatives, but some of the trim was ill-fitted on the test car and the grey inserts around the centre console looked cheap. On objective grounds the X-type has been left behind by the best in the class. But as an antidote to the small-German prestige epidemic, and for those who value refinement and handling, the 2.2 D is worth a look.

Just avoid the bodykit.

Chris Harris 

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15 June 2016
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