15 May 2009

The Underrated X-Type

Cars sometimes get treated unfairly whilst others get nothing but good said of them. When the Jaguar X-Type came out, it was criticized by the British press for using a Ford platform. Audi share platforms with Skoda, but the same journalists remained silent on that. What hypocrisy from the British media, a group I distain immensely anyway.

The X-Type was a car to take Jaguar from a boutique brand to a volume marque. Owners Ford were in a hurry to achieve this, but that was a mistaken policy. It takes years of steady increases to become a volume player in this segment and Ford did not understand that. They hurriedly pushed the car into the fleet sector in the US to get the desired sales quickly. So although sales were good, profits were not. It also damaged residual (used) values, which put off private buyers eventually.

X-Types sales in the US from ’02 to ’06 were (000s) 33, 27, 22, 11 and 5. You can see the damage Ford inflicted with its ill-conceived strategy. The car was pulled from North America in 2007, but it is still sold elsewhere. Production peaked at 69,000 in 2002 but only 16,000 were made in ’08 at the Halewood plant circa Liverpool. It’s future is unsure but it has a place for now in a niche brand that Jaguar now aspires to be. The Estate variant is the pick of the range for me, with a diesel engine.

So in summary, the X-Type was a pleasant looking, if a little uninspiring, car. It was well made and proved very reliable, helping Jaguar win customer satisfaction surveys on a regular basis. Of the other premium brands, only Lexus went close in such surveys and the renowned German brands were well beaten. It will continue to please those not so concerned with snob value, but rather the discerning motorist who appreciates understated elegance.

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