The cars : Jaguar X-TYPE
Oh so close…
IN MARCH 2001, Jaguar launched its most ambitious car to date, a new compact executive saloon to battle the BMW 3 Series, completing Jaguar’s three-tier saloon range. Its lineage was diverse, its design an engineer’s plaything, and wherever it went, it would stoke controversy. What follows is an insight into its engineering and design development, the ill fated derivatives, and the problems it faced up to its demise at the end of 2009. To truly understand the story, one must start with Jaguar’s growth spurt in 1998.
Introduction, the late-’90s
It was the 1998 British Motor Show and to much acclaim and excitement, Jaguar unveiled its first mid-size saloon for over two-decades. The new BMW Five Series rival was confusingly named the S-Type, taken from the name of the previous mid-size saloon, based on the now legendary Mk2-based S-type plus Jaguar’s Independent Rear Suspension housed in an extended and restyled rear end.
It was however the Mk2 that the new X200 S-Type drew its inspiration. The looks, created by the late-Geoff Lawson’s styling team at Whitley, failed to quite gel in the minds of the motoring press, but the public loved it. It was the late-’90s, and retro ruled. Rover had also chosen the same event to launch R40 75. Even the semi-critical contemporary journalists described the S-type as a modern and forward looking design rather than a retro-pastiche, words many of the same writers would then completely reverse. Until the launch of X200, few had considered a smaller compact executive outside of the Whitley Engineering Centre, but preparations were already well underway for a new, smaller Jaguar, the X400.
As the millennium approached, uncertainty in the global consciousness had resulted in a more conservative and/or retrospective designs. Technologically, major cultural breakthroughs were just on the brink, but this was still the eve before the iPod, eBay, Bluetooth, DVD, TFT; the revolution bringing dominance of mobile telecommunications. With the knowledge that many of these technologies were approaching but contemporary conservative styles, Jaguar had a fine line to walk.
Any new small car was likely to be more provocative than the new X200 and had to battle the dominant BMW 3 Series. Jaguar needed to avoid any styling criticism aimed at the S-Type from the press, retain strong traditional Jaguar values as perceived by the global markets yet take into account the technological developments that would imminently engulf the world. Small executives had become all the rage, and increasingly affluent buyers swapped their usual family saloons for the BMW and, increasingly, Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4.
Ford Wants Growth
If this set of circumstances didn’t impose tough enough objectives onto the X400, then Ford Motor Company, the custodian of Jaguar, would squeeze the X400 tighter still. Although in its heyday Jaguar had been the producer of a four-vehicle (E-type, Mk2, S-type and MkX) product line-up, since the ’70s, Jaguar’s line up had consisted largely of the XJ and the XJ-S, excepting the low volume Daimler limousines. During this time Jaguar established itself as a credible low volume manufacturer of style and dynamically led products.
The Series I XJ6 had been such a monumental car that the German rivals would be left playing catch-up for much of the next two decades, while Jaguar would be left attempting to iron out quality issues and making an appreciable profit. The only entirely new car Jaguar bought to market during this period was the XJ40 which had the impossible brief of replacing the groundbreaking XJ6, yet with no large development funds and an ageing set of ex-Triumph manufacturing equipment. Even after Ford takeover, the new X300 was a development of the XJ40, and the X100 XK8 was developed in part out of a now heavily evolved XJS. Ford now wanted to turn Jaguar from a niche manufacturer to a full range producer to take on BMW, Mercedes-Benz and, increasingly, Audi head on. The X200 had been instigated by Jaguar Cars and funded internally through the success of X300, but the impressed Ford Motor Company was keen to throw its weight behind a new X400 compact saloon.
As Jaguar expanded, the current platforms (X100/308) were still capable, the new products weren’t simply re-shelled, decade old architectures, but had been subject to continuous development. The introduction of the X200 heralded the new era of the high-volume Jaguar. With no suitable platform in the armoury, the X200 had to utilise a platform that could be shared across the Ford Empire. Whilst many disliked the idea of a somehow ‘less-pure’ Jaguar, there were many advantages such as increased development resources in terms of man-power and finance, and economies of scale.
The product of this cross-brand engineering was the DEW98 which has proved since to be a very adaptable and capable platform. Derivatives of the platform still underpin today’s award winning, class leading Jaguar X250 XF and a simplified version (DEW-Lite) underpins the Ford Mustang. The platform was also infinitely more modern than those of the X100 and X300/308, and the platform could have been adapted to spawn the replacements for both vehicles. The X200 was to also double Jaguar’s production to around 100,000 vehicles, a figure often cited as the limit of sustainability for a viable car manufacturer. The X400’s task was to double this again.
The trouble was, however, that there was no smaller platform for a traditional longitudinally mounted powertrain in the Ford Empire, nor was there any need for one. The DEW98 platform was viable for a mid-size executive, but on a more affordable car, profits would be slim, the DEW98 X400 would cost virtually as much as X200 to build, and interior room would be extremely restricted.
For Jaguar alone there would be considerable savings in terms of componentry and sub-assembly development, X200 parts could be carried over and Jaguar would have been able to utilise the same production line as that of the X200, although there would be no additional saving on unit cost other than economies of scale. A reduced DEW98 to C/D-segment length would be dimensionally similar except for a chop in the centre section resulting in compromised leg room but an equally long front, still able to home a V8. But these statements also contain a crucial fact; there was no ‘Jaguar alone’.
The X200 was assembled at the firms Castle Bromwich Assembly Plant in Birmingham, along with Body-in-White and Paint Shop facilities for the rest of the range because Jaguar’s long term home at Browns Lane, Allesley, Coventry could not facilitate the X200 or other functions. Logistically, transporting vehicle bodies was not the route to profitability or perfected high-volume quality either. Logically, the high-volume globally-marketed X400, with a planned target of 100,000 vehicles per annum, would be built at yet another new line (if the vehicle was not DEW98 derived) at the Castle Bromwich Assembly Plant. However, elsewhere, another motoring revolution was taking place.
“Just nearby was Halewood, where I used to play in the fields. There were ponds with sticklebacks in. Now there’s a sodding great Ford factory there that goes on for acres and acres.”
George Harrison, The Beatles
In the mid-’90s, keen to improve quality drastically, Ford of Europe had placed Halewood under Jaguar stewardship. The Ford Escort had been built at Ford’s high volume Halewood facility in Liverpool for many years, and there had been no reason to assume its replacement would not be built there also. The highly rated Ford Focus that replaced the Escort went on to become even more successful and shook up the family hatchback sector in a way that no car had since the Rover R8 200 Series of 1989, but Ford management had excluded the Halewood site. Instead, after much doubt over the future of Halewood, Ford pushed for X400 to be completely manufactured there.
For a small company, this was extremely illogical, three sites for just four vehicles, two plants with outputs of just 50,000 units and one with 100,000, but this was in fact part of a far larger business, the X400 was due to be one of many new vehicles at this time, and plans were already formulating to rationalise the West Midlands sites, the result of which was entire manufacture of the rear-wheel-drive Jaguar vehicles at Castle Bromwich from 2005.
And just like that, the plan was signed off. Jaguar would spend many millions, over £300m in fact, renewing over 70% of the Merseyside assembly plant, with Body-in-White, Paint, Trim and Final Assembly, Sign-off, Supplier and Railhead facilities all on site. Jaguar also wasted little time in rebirthing the workforce as green-blooded Jaguar employees. Experienced long term ‘Jag-men’ would visit the site and induct the Ford adoptees in the history and culture of the firm, and group leaders were brought to Coventry to become involved in the X400’s development, particularly during pilot build prototype phases.
Uniquely for any car, the production line was idle whilst it was in the later stages of development, allowing X400 to grow into its facility. Most new vehicles go through their pilot production and off and on-tools prototype builds whilst existing models or its own direct predecessor is still being manufactured, making it difficult to trial run the new model without disrupting profitable manufacture. The result was, much more effort could be placed into the trial builds and workers became familiar with the vehicle long before the first customer car would run down the track. The plant would go on to become elite amongst the global Ford Motor Company, but the investment would always seriously shackle the X400 and its ill-fated derivatives, especially if the product fell short of its ambitious sales targets. The massive facility however ensured X400 would suffer no shortcomings in manufacturing against its rivals.
Platform No. 132
The DEW98 would be ruled out as an X400 platform early on the grounds of cost and more importantly, size. Now that Halewood was selected as the production site, the X400 needed less Body-in-White architectural dependence on the other Jaguar products, but there was no alternative rear wheel drive, longitudinally mounted powertrain package in the Ford group. There was no need, either, because over the last few decades, nearly all manufacturers had turned to cheaper, more compact, safer and latterly, more crash-worthy, transverse powertrain installations.
Only BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz had then stuck to rear wheel drive architectures, and today, in 2011, even these three firms have succumbed and plan to increase front-wheel-drive products (Lexus CH, BMW 1 Series second generation and Mercedes proposed sub-C-Class FWD saloon). Audi mounted engines in their saloons longitudinally still, but were principally front wheel drive, with the engine mounted far ahead of the front axle rather than over it as with most RWD rivals.
Rear driven architectures are not particularly cheap to manufacture, more difficult to refine and result in a compromised package dimensionally as they are less space efficient. They are however the enthusiasts’ choice, and often far simpler to work on, and any truly credible (in a market performance sense) European premium vehicle has featured a driven rear axle. Even Audi ensured range topping vehicles were fitted with their quattro four-wheel-drive system. The fact that the average customer did not fully understand this was irrelevant.
With no resource to develop a world beating (well, BMW 3 Series beating) RWD platform from a clean sheet of paper, or any economies of scale in place if Jaguar could have, the only alternative was to utilise a transversely mounted powertrain in a shared architecture. This would ensure that the platform would be durable, contemporary, technologically advanced and highly suited for volume production. Ford was developing its CD132 platform to underpin the all-new-for-2000 Ford Mondeo amongst others and seemed the best candidate to form the basis of the new small Jaguar.
The Ford Mondeo, the lead recipient of the CD platform, had established itself as a class leader, and given the huge investment it would receive from FMC, its platform would be the ideal starting point for a Jaguar. To call the X400 small however would be somewhat unfair, and this would not be a simple re-bodied version of the Mondeo, although sadly this would be label applied to the X-Type later in life. In terms of prestige, this really shouldn’t have been an issue, the B5 Audi A4 had been co-developed with owner Volkswagen’s Passat and shared far more with each other than had X-Type and Mondeo. Strange then that, Mondeo was the class leader, not Passat, yet being Mondeo related was somehow seen as undesirable.
Body and Chassis: Making CD132 a Safe Modern Jaguar
The X400 would, at launch, be solely four-wheel drive. The design brief imposed meant that the X400 had to feel like any other Jaguar. The only reasonable way to achieve this would be with a rear biased all-wheel-drive set up. The car would be powered by more-or-less the same V6 currently installed in the mid-size S-type and would go on to power future XJ’s and the XF. The design brief insisted the X400 should have the best steering of any AWD or FWD car ever created and should handle neutrally to give the perception of an extraordinarily stable RWD vehicle.
To do this, the X400 would use a unique front suspension system including twin tube dampers, with exemplary torsional stiffness to ensure the steering remained as uncorrupted as possible, always a problem with driven front wheels. The system conceptually was not dissimilar to that of the Mondeo but was completely tailored to suit the X400, sharing nothing. The steering system itself was a ZF Servotronic II system that helped counter previous criticism of overly assisted, overly light steering on Jaguar cars.
The rear suspension was far more closely related to the Mondeo, whilst the front system was unrecognisable compared with the original Ford set up, the rear system was taken from the Mondeo Estate. Unlike the hatchback and saloon variants, whose system used a series of links, a knuckle and a single strut, the more expensive estate used a more compact multilink design with a trailing arm including hub knuckle, and separate damper and spring locations to provide the Mondeo with a flatter floor leading to a more capacious boot.
For Jaguar, it was felt this was the best system, especially as the X400 would use a rear sub-frame system and house a rear differential and half shafts in the best RWD traditions, as well as accommodate twin exhaust silencers in its packaging. The optimised set up incorporated passive rear steering, too and would pave the way for later X400 variants, most of all, the Estate. The CD132 rear suspension system was part of the Ford Control Blade family, and used a long ‘blade-like’ trailing arm along with upper and lower transverse arms to control the movement, allowed passive rear steering and was in principal very similar to the Honda system used on various cars, including Rover’s R8 200. Some may have felt this was something of a cop-out by Jaguar, but, the system was available, affordable, capable and allowed Jaguar to fulfil its dynamic, comfort and refinement ambitions without compromise.
The platform itself was no simple carry-over, either, the 2000 Mondeo had no AWD system to accommodate, and although some panels such as front strut tops were identical, most bore no resemblance. Further more, the wheelbases of the two cars did not even match, nor did their lengths, widths or tracks. The 2000 Mondeo featured a wheelbase of 2754mm and the S-Type’s, already in excess of a short wheel base X308 XJ, was barely 150mm longer at 2909mm. Given that in a transverse architecture, the front axle sits further rearward and closer to the front bulkhead than in a longitudinal one, this 150mm difference was mostly ahead of the passenger compartment.
The X400’s CD132 had to be further reduced, because even in its final form, X400 still had technically more rear leg room than the X200. Much was made of the new Jaguar being a ‘compact’ car, but even with a wheelbase of 2710mm, 44mm shorter than the equivalent Mondeo, and a length of 4672mm, versus 4731mm of the latter, the X400 was still less than a foot shorter than the S-type at 4905mm. It was hardly narrower either; the X400’s width of 2003mm was 57mm less than that of the X200 but still 45mm wider than the Mondeo, and lower than either.
Essentially, from the front bulkhead rearward, the X400 was little different to any equivalent RWD architecture. The advanced body would also become the stiffest in class, by 30% no less, making it not only safe, but the ideal platform for its suspension systems, a trait very important to deliver a fine handling and riding vehicle. It also helped to prevent the onset of squeaks and rattles, and 81% of the body shell was double sided, zinc coated steel and used higher strength steels in critical locations reducing additional weight to deliver strengths, and cheaper steels in low demand areas.
The X400’s class leading body characteristics were made possible by the greatest use of Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) in a Jaguar product to date, and also helped deliver the product in record time. The car used two complete subframe assemblies in the best Jaguar tradition providing excellent insulation and engineering purity, and the vehicle was built in the same way as any RWD car, with the entire chassis and powertrain subassemblies being offered up to the body in one piece. The front subframe was a neat, stiff and strong one piece component, something that even the RWD X200 did not offer at launch, although that car’s two part crossbeams would later be replaced with a complete subframe later in life.
Another area where CAE came into its own was in the crash performance of modern vehicles, and the X400 was no exception. The X400 went on to achieve a four-star NCAP crash rating, at the time, extremely impressive and class competitive and did so through clever body design incorporating impact absorbing crash and shear structures, as well as high strength steels such as in the A-post screen pillars and other clever design features such as the telescopic steel prop shaft.
These would all be considered passive safety features, so the X-Type had to also offer active safety features. Being the most advanced Jaguar to date, the X400 utilised the same occupancy detection and evaluation systems as the other Jaguar cars, whereby the weight and position of the occupant was categorised by the cars crash computing systems and decided how exactly to best inflate the front airbags. If the system believed there was a child, the airbags would not detonate with the same force as for a full size adult, and if the weight of the occupant fell below a 50kg threshold, the passenger airbag would be disabled entirely. In addition, front seat occupants were further protected by side airbags in the seats to protect thorax and upper body, whilst standard airbags located in the head rails protected both front and rear seat passengers. Later cars also received driver knee protection airbags.
Other features were intended to avoid the incidence of crashes in the first place; the all-wheel-drive system gave the vehicles extraordinary stability, making it fairly resistant to both under and oversteer in dry conditions and trustworthy in the wet. Industry standard ABS braking was naturally fitted to all vehicles, supplemented by electronic brake force distribution that would transfer braking effort front to rear depending on whether or not the vehicle was cornering, and emergency brake assist, increasing the assistance given to the driver in an emergency braking situation to provide maximum retardation effort. The brake system was arranged similarly to the Mondeo and most other transversely engined vehicles, with the front single piston callipers ahead of the front axle, and the rears behind the rear axle, and used vented front discs and solid rears incorporating a handbrake. This system enabled the X-Type to power down from 60mph to standstill in just 2.5 seconds.
Powertrain and Driveline: Germany, Japan, USA and UK
The AJ-V6 that would be used in the X400 was a development of the same unit in the X200. If the origins of the architectures were complicated, the engine itself made their lineage seem positively straightforward. The AJ-V6 was based on Ford’s Duratec 25 and 30 V6 engines, usually used in transverse applications. The origins of the engine however were outside of the Ford family. In the early Nineties, Porsche were developing a lightweight 60° all aluminium alloy V6, but as Porsche struggled in the pre-Boxster era and plans for front engine, rear drive designs were shelved (and would be until the 2009 Panamera saloon), the engineering was sold to Ford and Cosworth. How much of this design still exists today is debateable, but it would seem to be here that the Duratec V6’s story began.
The first derivatives appeared in 1994 from Ford’s Cleveland engine plant, hence many referring to the engine family as ‘Cleveland’ V6s and appeared in cars such as the Mondeo and Cougar, the compact and light engine winning critical acclaim. The modern engine became the perfect basis for development by Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda and Jaguar, and meant that the manufacturers did not have to make do with a ‘chopped’ V6 based on a 90° V8 as rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi had, prohibiting packaging in a transversely mounted architecture.
Once more, the economies of scale would pay off thanks to the size of the group. In truth, the ideal V6 has an angle of 120°, but 60°, being exactly half this angle, is a good harmonic compromise, and is relatively easy to package, where as 90° is neither an ideal angle for balance or packaging, especially in a transverse application. Primary balance of a V6 is never great due to the design of the crank, with each opposing pistons sharing a journal, unbalancing the rotational and reciprocating forces. Instead clever counterweight design is used to minimise the disturbance. A V6 however has almost ideal secondary balance due to the firing order of the six cylinders. The firing events nearly pulse back through the engine, with each stroke overlapping with the next explosion.
With no suitable inline six in the group, a compact (easily packaged and crashworthy) and thoroughly modern V6 was the ideal solution for the X200 S-type and Jaguar developed its own unique heads and ancillaries for its derivative of the ‘Cleveland’ V6 using its own technologies developed for the AJ26 V8 and forthcoming variants of this engine. In fact, contrary to many accounts, the engine shares little more than its block. When the AJ-V6 was launched, it was often claimed to be based on the AJ-V8 as many felt it had more in common. At launch, the new 3.0 V6 derivative was gifted with continuously variable valve timing and variable inlet tracts making it the most potent and efficient V6 engine to use the Duratec block, developing 240bhp and 221lb ft of torque. The engine is still in production to this date (2010) for diesel-phobic markets and is likely to be so for a few more years until it is replaced with an all new petrol design.
For the X400, in 2001, a version of the same Jaguar AJ-V6 was ideal, but the engine would now have to be placed transversely, leading to alterations and repositioning of the engine’s accessories, and intake and exhaust systems. The water pump was relocated to the ‘rear’ end (gearbox side) of the engine whilst other arrangements were made to package neatly in the X400’s engine bay and to package protect for forced aspiration variants. Although the inlet operated and looked similar to the longitudinal variant in the RWD Jaguars, the X400 used effectively a mirrored version as the throttle body now sat at the rear end of the engine as it does on most transversely installed engines, slightly compromising the intake geometry due to a decreased radius in the air flow between the air intake and the engine.
The exhausts now had to direct flow down and under the engine rather than alongside, which itself is more constrictive from a packaging point of view, but of course catalysts for each bank of cylinders also had to be incorporated in tight space, meaning the exhaust was further compromised still. Due to the packaging constraints, the X400 was slightly down on performance versus the S-Type, but still had a class leading 231bhp and 280Nm of torque thanks to excellent variable geometry intake featuring two butterfly flaps to utilise advantageous resonances and state-of-the-art 12-hole fuel injectors, giving it an impressive 0-60 of 6.6 or 7.1 seconds for a manual or automatic respectively, enough to beat the BMW 330i or the Audi A4 3.0 quattro.
The gearing and all-wheel-drive actually meant the X-Type would beat the S-type to 60mph, too. In a direction that was quite new for Jaguar, the X400 was allowed to remain quite vocal. Even in recent history, Jaguar had made engines that were hushed and quiet, even when driven more urgently, but increasingly, the petrol-headed public wanted cars that sounded more throaty and ‘alive’, more like 1960/1970s American muscle cars that at the time were deemed as guttural, raw, unrefined and unsophisticated. The X400’s intake system allowed the induction noise to be hushed under light loads and cruising, but rather more vocal with hard acceleration. This generally went down well with journalists at launch, although some felt it was a little harsh and uncultured at its most extreme.
For X400, at launch at least, a 2.5 variant of the AJ-V6 was also simultaneously developed from the 3.0. This engine would later find its way into the X200, too, providing another price entry point into the range. The trouble was, this engine was down on power and torque at 194bhp and 244Nm respectively, yet was rarely significantly more economical (27mpg combined for 3.0, 29mpg for 2.5) as it had to be worked harder, and was every bit as expensive to build. In X400, the 2.5 was still mated to the same AWD system. It still featured the same variable valve timing and intake geometry, and the specifications of the cars were broadly similar to the 3.0-litres, most having leather, electric seats and windows and so on, yet the car had to be sold at a price reduction. Shortly behind in the development process was also 2.1 litre version of the engine, the smallest capacity engine of the ‘Cleveland’ family.
The engine put its power through five speeds of either manual, featuring a dual mass flywheel, or automatic transmissions. The manual was a derivative of the MTX75 gearbox from within the Ford group, whilst the automatic shifter was a brand new Jatco JF506E nine solenoid design specifically developed for Jaguar, controlled through the traditional J-gate allowing maximum gear selection as well as a switchable sport mode.
Although often forgotten, the transmission was a particularly difficult and important aspect of the X400 to set up at the turn of the century. Previously, very few powerful all-wheel-drive cars existed and certainly none easily comparable to the X400. The Audi A4 used a large longitudinal transaxle transmission, and the smaller Audi A3 used a transverse gearbox similarly to the X400, but even in range topping S3 format in 2001, had just 225bhp from a turbocharged four cylinder. The 231bhp 3.0 V6 was the highest performing variant of the X400 at launch only, and so protection had to be built in for higher performance variants in X400 or other derivatives.
The A3 also operated a quattro system that only diverted torque to the rear wheels when those at the front began to slip, similar to the system in Land Rover’s Freelander albeit for different purposes. The only other comparable transversely mounted engine featuring cars were along the lines of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution series. These featured manual gearboxes, but did so without the refinement expected by the Jaguar customers, and as performance increased, so too did the requisite service and maintenance intervals, something that a Jaguar or more importantly, a BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi customer would refuse. Were the car developed today, the advancement in technology since the X400 would enable Jaguar to have considered sequential ‘Tiptronic’ gear selection, dual-clutch transmissions and so on, but in 2001, the Japanese Jatco system was at the head of a then emergent class, and the manual was perfectly adequate.
Drive was transferred through a transfer case to the rear axle, which ensured a rear biased torque split. Initially in development this was set at 30:70 front to rear, but on the grounds of durability and handling, production vehicles were set at 40:60, the inverse of the weight distribution. The viscous coupling which regulated this was able to fully transfer torque to either axle in its extremis to ensure the X400 always had grip. However, if three out of four wheels slipped, the fourth would become ineffective without electronic traction control.
The likelihood of this was so rare that it was deemed unnecessary as standard fitment but electronic traction control was available as an option and fitted to X-Type Sport variants which utilised the braking system to brake a slipping wheel. The transfer case was rather small, in part due to packaging constraints as well as weight, and had a capacity of just 0.5 litres of fluid. In service, this component would prove to be the X-Type’s weakest link. This would make the system susceptible to failure if it should be allowed to leak even a little, but was deemed adequate for life of a vehicle. A (slightly offset) two piece prop shaft complete with centre bearing transferred load to a rugged rear differential as with any AWD or RWD vehicle. Driveshafts were all of equal length to prevent any directional bias imparted by torque steer.
Despite the fact that the X400 was barely smaller than the X200, and featured a weighty all wheel drive system, an equivalent 3.0SE Auto weighed 1595Kg, 115Kg less than the X200 through increasingly intelligent design.
Technology: Starting the Trend
Given the advancement that was imminently to flood the global market, the X400 had to be at the head of the development curve. When the X400 was launched, despite being the smallest and most affordable Jaguar, it was the most advanced and by a long way. The powertrain and body were developed to be class leading, and they had to be if the car was to challenge BMW’s all conquering 3-Series. Inside, the car had to also be at the forefront of the game, and did so by extensive use of CANBUS computer network systems and OBDII on board diagnostic systems.
Climate control was optional or standard depending on the cars position in the range, but also available was an advanced but user friendly Multimedia Interface unit. The unit did away with the climate and sound system and replaced the units with a single large touch screen and a few shortcut buttons, featuring Satellite Navigation, mobile phone connectivity, optional television and CD multichangers. All of this was groundbreaking at the start of a decade in which this technology would not become common until its end. This was made possible by the use of a media dedicated fibre optic MOST computer system. Advanced voice recognition was also carried over from the X200.
The X400 became the first Jaguar to feature xenon HID headlamps. Ten-speaker audio systems, heated front windscreen, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic headlights, electric, memory and heated seats all made their ways onto the options and specification lists throughout the range (most of which would become standard with age), as did the latest anti-lock braking system, 32-bit transmission control management (automatic models) and Denso 32-bit engine control management (again, completely different to that of the sister Mondeo).
Much of the technology on board would be transferred to the rest of the range, the X202 S-Type of 2002 would go on to receive an X400 inspired interior replacing the less-than-loved and by now ageing and deridingly called ‘urinal’ interior from its launch, whilst the MMI unit would also be found in the all new aluminium X350 XJ of 2003. Much of the switchgear such as window control packs, overhead consoles, and even the door mirrors would find its way onto the X150 XK and X350 XJ over the next few years. If anything, this was all a little embarrassing, the cheapest car in the range was easily the most advanced, not to mention the most practical with the largest boot, S-type matching accommodation, and performance (in 3.0-litre guise) that only took half a second longer than and XK8 to reach 60mph (6.1 versus 6.6), and this may be a contributory factor to explain the lack of further development or options that found their way into the more expensive and profitable Jaguars, such as adaptive cruise.
Design: Conservative Controversy, Inside and Out
“The rationale behind the new X-Type, for example, is not in looking back but in expressing the modernity of the design through proportion, stance and basic architecture .” Ian Callum, Design Director, Jaguar Cars, 2000.
The S-type had been a hit with the buying public who easily identified the car as a Jaguar and retro design was the ‘in-thing’ at the turn of the century. However, Jaguar was keen to avoid the kind of criticism levelled at the X200 by the motoring press. The S-Type’s grille and light arrangements never quite seemed ‘right’, the car appeared to sag heavily at the rear. The interior was more American rental car than Jaguar. Traditionally, compact executive saloons most closely resembled the large luxury saloons, Audi being a great example, the A4 bore most resemblance to the A8, rather than the mid size A6. In this case, Jaguar would be quite similar.
The X400 would be the penultimate Jaguar overseen by the late Geoff Lawson, and the car’s design was credited to Wayne Burgess. Many styling themes were considered, even as the mechanical package was being signed off, and these ranged from progressive and aggressive to conservative and tame. More extreme themes used modern headlights not unlike those that made their way onto XF and XJ, but at the time this was thought too forward. Given the X-Type’s slightly questionable parentage, strong unquestionable and traditional Jaguar cues were considered essential.
The X400 took the greatest number of design cues from the XJ, mostly the forthcoming X350. In order to find its own identity however, the X-Type used smaller, elliptical headlamps to widen the appearance and appear sleeker, being too tall and narrow at the front to pull off the XJ’s traditional front. This made the rearward front axle a little more obvious. The bonnet was traditional Jaguar, heavily fluted and quite long to maintain some Jaguar presence. Although at the time designers talked about the ‘cab-forward’ proportions becoming the modern trend, much effort was expended to fairly successfully conceal the longer front overhang and visually increased the distance between the front wheels and the A-posts.
In reality, cab-forward design was marketing speak for compromised proportions due to a more rearward front axle imposed by a transversely installed powertrain. The side aspect was at the time likened to that of the swoopy S-Type, although in reality it was most like the unrevealed 2003 X350 XJ, and appeared fairly elegant and modern. The profile raised towards the rear, increasing interior dimensions and lending to a far more sporting stance than most Jaguars, and unlike the sagging rear end of the S-Type, incorporated haunches over the rear wheels similar to the XK8 and many classic sports cars such as the E-type, Triumph Stag and GT6. The result was extremely trim dependent, with sporty versions with bold wheels looking striking, elegant and capable whilst basic, under-wheeled examples appeared rather dowdy and quite bulbous. All models would feature chrome rubbing strips in the bumpers, SE adding a slightly different grille treatment, whilst the Sport added body-coloured rubbing strips and the chrome side window strip was swapped for gloss black items. Later Sport models would feature a new grille treatment, complete with mesh and body coloured surround, and later still, higher models of the range also received a bright finish mesh grille.
The interior was far more closely aligned with the X300/308 and X350 XJ than to the then current S-type, and at the time was praised as such. The traditional, inset ‘Spitfire’ wing made a return as did the ‘Horseshoe’ centre console. Materials, even artificial ones, were used in natural ways to imply a sense of effortless luxury for the X-Type’s occupants, and enabled the X-Type to feel far more exclusive and extravagant than the solid but uninspired plasticky interiors of the rivals. True to tradition, only genuine wood was deployed inside, manufactured with veneers for the rest of the Jaguar line-up at Browns Lane’s VMC, much to the chagrin of the manufacturing engineers and accountants, fillets of veneer were also placed on higher models door casing, further increasing the development and production costs.
The interior was very much centred on ‘olde-worlde’ charm which in later years did little to enhance the X400’s reputation but the switchgear was of good quality and would be rolled out across the rest of the range in time, and there were no Ford parts in site. Despite the old-fashioned interior architecture, the latest in technology was within concealed. More modern options such as dark stained wood, aluminium and carbon fibre trims helped to boost the cars credentials, the latter not available at launch, as did alcantara seats. Base models would be offered with stodgy cloth, small wheels, no steering wheel mounted controls and manual heating controls, even losing the requisite armrest and rear electric windows. Nothing visible, however, inside or out was ever shared with the Ford Mondeo. Jaguar would have been forgiven for utilising components such as stalks or column shrouds, dials and buttons, but anything the customer could see or touch was pure Jaguar, a very different relationship between X400 and the Mondeo to that of the Rover 600 and Honda Accord for example.
Once more, the interior was, if nothing else, conservative. However, this styling was, as mentioned previously, implemented before the turn of the century. Before Chris Bangle’s BMWs, the competition was certainly even more conservative – Audi’s A4, at the time, being the dullest yet, appearing virtually unstyled. The X-Type’s more sporting nature and retro hints appeared to be fun and pretty in equal measure, but Jaguar were keen not to be stung by straying too far from the formula.
There was another factor involved, too: Ford. The management at Ford needed Jaguar to break through in America in order to hit the big time, and they wanted to offer the customer exactly what they expected. Ford had a very traditional view of what a ‘Jag-war’ was, a 1960s icon typified by the E-type and the XJ6, and Jaguar’s designers would have no choice but to carry out the wishes of its paymaster. Some elements of the vehicles engineering we’re heavily aimed towards the American market, such as the wide arm chair sears, offering little in the way of lateral support to more subtly figured Europeans. Ultimately, this would prove to be the wrong decision, and Jaguar’s recent renaissance, post-Ford, would seem to validate this statement.
This was to be Jaguar’s greatest selling model to date and it would have to spell the end of the traditional ‘two-jags’ reliability woes (stories/jokes of buying more than one to ensure they had a car whilst the other was being repaired, again). The highest volume and yet cheapest car also had to be the most advanced. The X400’s development was paving the way for technologies that would feature on the next generation of Jaguar models, and as such, it was burdened with the bill, helping to further constrain the X400 if sales fell short. The X-Type had been something of a snap decision for the business, portakabins and staff were hurriedly assembled at the Whitley Engineering Centre, and top management ensured that the top people were installed within the program structure. Anecdotal accounts often recall referring to the X400 program team as ‘The A-Team’.
Massive attention was paid to refinement and the cars dynamic and ride abilities, such as prop angles and speeds, damping, traction and steering and testing was the most extensive to date with hundreds of vehicles built pre-production, not only consisting of the usual engineering mules, underbody mules and confirmation prototypes built at the midlands sites, but also hundreds of genuine Halewood track-built cars, too. Such high volumes of vehicles are certainly not desirable, most firms strive to reach virtually impossible zero-prototype development, but as proven with Toyota’s recent recall problems, this is never quite feasible. Such was Jaguar’s desire to build a dependable and class leading car, the firm would have to shelf this ambition to get this car right.
The car was tested globally, from the sub-zero, snow clogged roads of Timmins to the deserts on the same continent, from the potholed roads of native Britain, to high speed rings in Italy. Millions of miles of development ensured the X400 would be well judged and dependable on the road. During this time, most electrical gremlins were ironed out of the car, one of the remaining bugbears of the cars design would be the transfer case however, the component passing through many revisions before and after ‘job-one’ production, and having become less rearward biased.
Sales and Marketing: A New Breed
The X400 was a testing model for the global Jaguar infrastructure, for dealers especially; this was an entirely new car. Technologically it was far ahead of anything their workshops or sales staff had encountered, and extensive training would have to be undertaken. This was no bad thing, the electrical architectures and trim strategies would be carried on and developed for every new car to follow, but the new powertrain layout and chassis designs were far flung from traditional territory. In the showroom, Jaguar briefed dealers that the new car should expect a new type of customer. Jaguar was targeting the thirty-something young professionals, and was in part trying to shake its stuffy image. Jaguar as a brand had traditionally been more exclusive and emotive than the rivals from Germany, and Jaguar was perceived to be more akin to a fashion brand. Dealerships were therefore warned to expect a more fashionable customer, probably with children in tow in their showrooms. These new customers, whether well heeled or otherwise, were unlikely to arrive dressed in suits and boots.
Much effort was expended on marketing and ensuring the car was aimed at the right consumers through customer clinics and engagement with marketing agencies. Advertising was well used to introduce the new breed of Jaguar, and initial advertising campaigns, most notably that featuring Chris Isaak’s hit single, ‘Wicked Game’ offered the X-Type as a passionate purchase, somehow alluring and soulful. One must consider whether a more contemporary offering may have helped appeal to the desired audience, no matter how apt the soundtrack was. Later adverts began to capitalise on the vehicles all-wheel-drive capability, and the car was always surrounded by distinctively featured and attractive models, with Steve McQueen levels of low dialogue and quietly brooding expressions.
The X-Type name was chosen to link it to the newly launched S-type, the ‘X’ being a Jaguar traditionally used character, and linking it to the XJ, ensuring nobody would doubt the cars maker.
Initial reaction to the X-Type was extremely positive, the motoring press loved the styling, less controversial than the preceding S-type, and many applauded the apparent Jaguar heritage. Most comments regarding the Mondeo sister-car were positive, citing just how capable that car also was, and in the end, that just 19% of the cars origins were shared, many of which were perfectly suited components such as HVAC units hidden from view and which in no way detracted from the X400’s Jaguar heritage.
Many felt the car was built as a Jaguar, looked like a Jaguar and drove like a Jaguar. Dynamically, BMW’s new E46 generation 3-Series still ruled the class, in the dry at least, but Jaguar’s mission statement had been to create a more complete, more complementitive car that did little to intimidate the driver. Chassis guru Mike Cross stated that he would always favour a little more bias towards multi-conditional stability compared to offering more overt thrills for the experienced driver.
Ride quality in even the sport models was first class and it was clear that Jaguar had given much thought to long-distance comfort. Despite this, the X400 beat BMW’s 3 Series Compact in the rankings, “…the X-Type slays the Compact” for Autocar’s ‘Best Drivers Car’, finishing just outside the top ten in 11th, quite an achievement considering the cars role as a comfortable executive cruiser, and that the final top ten mostly consisted of nimble sports cars such as the Lotus Elise. Autocar remarked “…it was always composed and could even be fun” and “…this four-door saloon could be made to drift beautifully”.
Most criticism of X-Type on the road focused on the lack of ‘sportiness’ in the sport, it was still a very comfortable car, unlike many turn-of-the-century ‘boneshakers’ from other firms, and many also felt that all engine variants felt merely quick and not rapid. The lack of urgency was part of the Jaguar nature, and the performance figures went some way to dampening any concerns. Autocar was able to reach 60mph from a standing start in 6.5 seconds, faster than Jaguar had claimed, and felt the car was capable of improving that time. Another factor was that another X-Type existed, by now an open secret, the X-Type R.
Nevertheless, it was described as sort of an ‘artificial drivers car’ by some, and whilst feeling like, and being, an extraordinary car with vast grip and performance, it was somehow short on thrills. More damning criticism was in store for the 2.5 litre variant, because in its own company it wasn’t too bad, but performance was blunted compared with the 3.0-litre, it had to be worked harder making it seem ‘thrashy’, yet it didn’t really redeem itself through greater economy either. Journalists found little issue with driveline shunt, the system seemed to be very well refined, but many found the Jatco automatic transmission could be a little harsh on sharp up-changes. Part of this could be explained by the software, around 90% of the transmission’s character was programmed and later revisions quelled some of these concerns, but the heart of the issue lies with the fact that the powertrain installation was transverse; a poor change would have the effect of jerking the car in the direction in which it is travelling, as oppose to a slight and more imperceptible judder sideways.
Interior quality wasn’t quite as good as rivals from Audi, it was certainly perceived not to be, anyway, its one piece Instrument Panel (dash) assembly certainly kept things solid. Some plastics however could have been better executed. The Jaguar’s cabin was certainly stylistically more ambitiously engineered whilst the slightly inert but tastefully restrained offerings from Audi oozed solidarity. Part of this could also be explained by the lighter, natural trim combinations, versus the darker colours of the German rivals, whilst the expansive use of wood in the Jaguar was now starting to wear thin on the buying public. One particular area of criticism was the steering column shroud, which particularly in a brownish finish appeared quite low budget, however if one views the cars contemporaries and successors, the issue is still present, just unnoticed. Boot space was class competitive and best-in-range for Jaguar, but some found issue with the usability of this volume given accessibility and shape.
The well received styling quickly fell out of favour with public and journalist tastes, many suddenly feeling the car was a little too clichéd, or too retrospective. It is easy to forget that when the car was first introduced, let alone designed, the world was a different place. Once the millennium had passed, buyer tastes became less conservative, and customers became more concerned with the future than the past. Increasingly trendy consumer items appeared on the market, most of which were increasingly simplistic, minimalistic, uncluttered and modern, such as Apple’s iPod. More neutral conservative designs fared better, with little to ‘jar’, but those slightly fussier, detailed designs became less desirable.
One of the main issues now was the limited options available to buyers. Initially, Autocar had shared Jaguar’s confidence in the new small sporting saloon, even writing their own A4 66 page book detailing the design and development of what they named ‘the most important Jaguar ever’, and felt the X400 was an extremely credible entry into what had become an increasingly competitive marketplace.
At launch, just two engines options were offered, the 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre AWD with or without automatic transmissions. The 2.5-litre was often criticised for being short on power compared with the 3.0-litre, and scarcely more economical. What Jaguar needed to truly compete with the established rivals were entry level models as well as halo-effect cars. The next derivative was always to be a smaller engine variant of the AJ-V6 with two wheel drive, the 2002 2.0-litre. The 2.1-litre engine, badged as the 2.0-litre was a slightly simplified version of the larger engines, with a new intake manifold and a cable throttle body.
Unfortunately, this lower powered engine still carried much of the complexity of the larger engines, and in what proved to be a difficult to stomach drive method for many purists, the car had to be front-wheel-drive. The bulk and internal combustion efficiencies meant it wasn’t particularly quick or economical. It remained a pleasant car to drive however, but AWD would have possibly gone some way to save the cars reputation, although it would have been even slower and less economical.
In hindsight, what Jaguar truly needed was a four-cylinder engine, with about half-a-litre capacity per cylinder (1.8-2.2) borrowed from the Ford family but it was seen as too much of a blow at this stage for potential customers. Jaguar perhaps would have been better served investing in drastic enhancement of the transfer case on all cars and creating a transversely mounted installation but offering a solely rear wheel drive variant, something never seen in a front engined production car. There are, of course, reasons this has not been adopted before, it would be costly and over-engineered, but would likely have done the most to salvage the X400’s reputation, and further distance it from the other CD132 vehicle, the Mondeo. A damning consideration would be the torque a future diesel variant would impose on it.
This is not to say the 2.0-litre model was a bad car, either, Parker’s for one conceded that the front driven model lost little ground in the way of handling over an all-wheel-drive model, in the dry at least. Where as the gap between the 3.0 X-Type and it’s German rivals had been fairly slim, it was, however, harder to justify the ‘2.0’ as a buying choice over it’s simpler four-cylinder engine rivals, the BMW 318 and Mercedes C180 and C200 with rear-wheel-drive no less, and even more difficult against the six cylinder BMW 320. Performance was not exactly sparkling, the 200Nm 157bhp manual took 8.9 seconds to reach 60mph, and automatic transmission blunted performance to a poor 10.4 seconds. Traction control was included as standard to prevent excessive torque steer and wheel spin.
Around the turn of the century, diesel was rapidly spreading as the sensible choice of vehicle propulsion; it was economical and increasingly powerful. Even if peak power outputs were not spectacular, mid-range torque, the real world indicator of performance was. Commonrail direct injection technology and increased NVH performance had revolutionised diesel technology far more rapidly than petrol had, and in most premium brands, vehicles powered as such were now acceptable, although this was still considered as unpalatable to journalists and enthusiasts in a Jaguar, as was front-wheel-drive.
Part of this diesel hesitance in all likelihood stemmed from the American owners, and that the diesel-disliking USA was Jaguar’s strongest market. The X400 entered the US in 2002, following the first year of production. A series of minute body-in-white alterations leading to a relocated towing eye and new front bumper were made. A few special editions were launched to help buoy the car in the market, such as the Indianapolis, often with more extreme interior themes, bright red leather for example, but ultimate did little to assist sales, and failed to launch X-Type sales into the 100,000-plus league.
Nevertheless, a 2.0-litre Diesel front-wheel-drive model was in development, along with a raft of other derivatives in the mould of the 3 Series and Rover’s hugely successful R8, including a promising coupe. Sadly, most of these variants would never leave the design studios or CAD screens. The 2.0D was late to the market in 2003 and was offered solely as FWD and manual but was generally received as the car Jaguar needed, it even offered superior torque to that of the 3.0 petrol.
The 2.0-litre diesel was a reworked Ford unit and, unlike the petrol units. was far more closely related to the more humble counterparts. Extensive development was undertaken to ensure the diesel would be fairly quiet and refined, most of the changes being related to NVH equipment such as a new full length undertray and well insulated engine covers. The 2.0D would accelerate to 60mph from standstill in 9.5 seconds with its 128bhp and 331Nm of torque. With a deficit of over 100bhp on the 3.0-litre petrol, despite greater torque, it was essential that the most performance could be extracted from the diesel.
To do this, the 2.0D came equipped with a five-speed Ford-sourced manual transmission, and explains the early lack of an automatic gearbox. As described before, performance automatic transmissions were thin on the ground, and with great enough torque to destroy any such system, yet only 128bhp, a 2.0D would be horrifically slow. The year of the 2.0D, 2003, proved to be the peak of X400 sales with around 50,000 units. This was only half that of the ambitious sales objectives, and in the cars third year in the market, there was little chance 100,000 units would ever be built in one year.
As with the diesel, so too belatedly introduced was the estate variant. The estate was also well received however, essentially a new car from the B-pillars rearward in terms of visual design and upper-body engineering. Many felt it was in fact better proportioned than the saloon, and certainly more contemporary. These additions to the range were certainly a welcome boost, for now, the X400 was clearly flagging in the marketplace, and new developments were being canned.
The 2004 revisions, now including the diesel engine and new body style also incorporated a few changes around the car, a new steering wheel switched to thumbwheel controls on the spokes that would later find their way onto the XK and XF, a new trip computer screen was introduced, a chrome glove box lid handle and outside, new alloy-wheel designs, a new boot finisher now concealed the boot release button from sight. Sadly, this would be the bulk of X400 upgrades for a long time.
The X-Type R: the Supersaloon that never was…
Bonspeed Jaguar X-Type hints at how the X-Type R could have looked…
Well, as a production reality, anyway. From early in the products inception and owing to the success of the other ‘R’ badged Jaguars, an X-Type R was always a consideration. Some effort was expended to package protect for the car and very little has been revealed about the car. What is known is that the derivative was highly developed and tested. Conceptually, the X400R deviated little from the formula of the other ‘R’ saloons, it was less overtly ‘hardcore’ than the M3 and was described as being aimed at the maturing Subaru Impreza driver.
It used a supercharger strapped to the 3.0-litre AJ-V6 producing upwards of 300bhp and with a 0-60 time deeply imbedded into the 5-second range thanks to its gearing allowed for by its incredible traction. It used a near standard Traction4 AWD transmission, something that would play an unsurprising part in the cars disappearance from the cycle plan. The fitment of a supercharger to the V6 may seem a little excessive for such a limited model, but at this stage, it could have effectively replaced (in some markets) the 4.0-litre and later 4.2-litre naturally aspirated cars with similar outputs, reducing weight and boosting economy in the rest of the Jaguar range, and fitting Jaguars AJ-V8 transversely was never an option.
In terms of chassis, Jaguar’s own dealer systems still to this day allegedly bear evidence of the X400R’s existence, and offer an insight into some of the specification. Electrical diagrams confirm for example fitment of the CATS two stage adaptive damping fitted to the other Jaguar’s and could potentially have paved the way for fitment to higher spec naturally aspirated cars. The plan also included wider tracks with wider tyres wrapped around 18” and possibly even 19” alloy road wheels.
This required retooling for new wing panels and thus required further investment, although something that could have been included with the new five-door estate variant. At this stage, Jaguar had only offered the X400 with 16 and 17in rims, the former with 205 section tyres, and the latter with 225. When X400 was finally offered with an 18” wheel option, the rolling radius was near enough the same, and the tyres still only offered the same width of 225, meaning the only benefit was aesthetic, to some, dynamics were unimproved, and all this to the detriment of ride and comfort. If anything, the 18” wheel options actually gave an appearance of the car being ‘jacked-up’ by exaggerating the height of the sill from the ground if the sports body kit was not fitted, something the MY09 facelift helped to alleviate a little.
Visually the car would have followed the tried and tested ‘R’ formula, slatted vents in the bonnet, more aggressive sills, front and rear bumper additions and the aforementioned larger diameter wheels as well as visually more imposing exhaust finishers. In many respects it would have resembled the sport models with the additional body addenda found on a few later special editions.
The X400R was set to be a stunning car, but ultimately the investment dried up. Ford had become disillusioned with X400’s inability to dominate the market place, and the buying public were now fed up with retro and conservative design. The world had changed quickly and FMC were still bowing to demands made four years prior. The funding still remaining was quickly diverted to estate and FWD diesel variants, whilst the X-Type R and other X400 variants were abandoned to the archives.
During testing, it had been established that the transfer case mechanism wasn’t the most robust system, and whilst perfectly adequate on a well kept 3.0-litre with just 231bhp and 207Nm of torque, it was still not up to the job of reliably taming the substantial boost of the X400R. With investment, this could have fairly easily been addressed, as has been proven in recent times with the similarly powerful transverse Audis, Volkswagens, Mitsubishis and even a few GM offerings (VXR Insignia), but Ford had grown tired. Sadly, many feel the X-Type R would have been something of a halo-model for the range, and given added credibility to the other models, especially those with ‘R’ inspired design features.
With no further development, the X400 was left to suffer at the hands of rivals in the marketplace and as public opinion turned, so too did many of the motoring critics. The car that had carried so much hope and had been so extensively engineered and tested was now derided as little more than a reshelled Ford Mondeo. The 2.0D and five door variants had helped sales a little, but this was a Jaguar purists nightmare, a front-wheel-drive, manual, diesel estate.
There was another reason further development was little and far between. This had to do with Jaguar’s future model strategy, for this car and the others. Most replaced cars tend to be conceptual developments of existing models, even where the final car shares little or nothing in common with its predecessor. For X-Type, the CD132 underpinnings were to be scrapped. Although huge investment had been made in X400 and the most intense development strategy to date, the body-in-white and chassis engineering would only live on in principles and experience only.
After the turn of the century, Jaguar’s fortunes would vary and troubled waters were ahead. After BMW ejected Land Rover, before deserting the remaining parts of the Rover Group, Ford Motor Company had decided to purchase the 4×4 concern, and the proximity of Land Rover and Jaguar, the previous relationships between the ex-British Leyland colleagues, the natural crossover of employees between the local firms, old friends and so on made the two companies natural bed-fellows.
However, the relationships were not all good, contractual differences between the firm’s employee’s as well as their products marketplace performance became the source of much initial bitterness and resentment. Land Rover began to perform very strongly in global marketplaces and returned modest profits, whilst Jaguar sales continued to collapse. Once more, there were too many unique platforms, components and architectures for such a small group of vehicles. During this period, Jaguar’s F1 programme was cancelled and the F-Type was painfully aborted.
Throughout this time a programme called X350 was hatched and nurtured to replace the ageing X308, a car that could directly trace its ancestry to the XJ40. The technologically ambitious X350 used an incredible riveted and bonded Aluminium body, and unlike the Audi A8, was made up of pressed sheet metal and cast structures, rather than space frame using steel, too. The car was packaged in an all too familiar set of traditional clothes, bowing to trends described at length earlier, which helped explain the continued decline in sales, but the architecture on which is was based was set to be the future of the firm. The platform was also set to underpin the X250, the car that would become today’s XF and the X450, the next X-Type.
The 2003 RD-6 best encapsulates thinking of diversity the platform could spawn and will likely inspire the future smaller Jaguars. Unfortunately, with the S-types market position as a 5-Series rival becoming increasingly indefensible, finances at a minimum, and growing instability concerning the Premier Automotive Group members future under Ford, X250 would revert to a drastically updated version of the DEW98 platform, with it taking plans for a smaller, more affordable Jaguar. Thinking then changed at the companies upper management, Ford U-turned on BMW-beating ambitions and now wanted to turn Jaguar into a more prestigious, lower volume manufacturer in the cast of Porsche, and X400 and 450 were left out in the cold.
These issues did little to resolve the lack of a self-shifter in the diesel variant in X400, either. It could have been possible to have replaced the now thirsty petrol V6s with the 2.7 Diesel V6 found in the rest of the range, but the increased bulk sitting ahead of the front axle, with no all-wheel-drive system capable of handling the torque also put any thoughts of that nature to rest. The diesel V6 was not particularly cheap to manufacture, either. At this point, the Halewood future plan was beginning to look bleak for the second time in less than ten years.
In 2006, Freelander 2 joined the Jaguar Land Rover line up. Following internal disputes, as well strong pressure from Ford and incentives from local authorities to keep Halewood active, Freelander moved to Liverpool. This made some sense, as X400 volume was low compared to the excellent plants capabilities, and the two cars were in many ways very similar. The new Freelander was derived from Ford’s latest CD architecture, called ‘EUCD’. It too had powertrain transversely mounted with a transfer case offering a drive rear axle, used front and rear subframes, and in terms of market position, and therefore specification, were quite similar. The X400’s production line made the perfect home for L359, the Freelander’s codename, and in moving to Liverpool, helped secure the future of the plant and its many workers. X400 was a beneficiary because the L359 would take some of the financial burden off the X-Types barrelled shoulders.
In 2007, a new 2.2D four cylinder engine was introduced, which now endowed the X-Type with 152bhp, a more respectable 0-60 of 8.5 seconds, a top speed of 137mph and a petrol-slaughtering 366Nm of torque, barely behind the 4.0 V8 as fitted in XK8. Staggeringly, it could also return a combined 47mpg. Suddenly the 3.0 V6 petrol was looking very difficult to justify. Counter-intuitively, this was not actually an identical unit to that fitted in the 2.2D Freelander.
The Indian Summer
By the latter half of the decade, sales of X400 were slow but fairly stable, the fairly pointless 2.1 litre V6 variant was quietly dropped, soon after followed by the 2.5, leaving just the four cylinder diesels and the 3.0 V6. The exchange rate between the UK Sterling and the US Dollar had led to a complete withdrawal of X400 from the United States market.
With the forthcoming X250 due to be revealed in 2007, and the more modern X150 XK having been on sale since 2006, the X-Type was at risk of looking extremely out of place in the showroom and, besides, the BMW rival had by now reached its third incarnation since the X400 was first revealed in 2000, and Audi were moving onto their fourth A4 (if one counts the thoroughly revised B6 variant). To maintain XJ sales, an update was planned for the 2008 MY09 car, even with X351 due only two years later. In doing so, there was increased opportunity to update the X400 at the same time to benefit from the increased showroom traffic, and more significantly, to make inroads into emerging markets.
The revised X400 would actually beat the updated XJ to the marketplace to coincide with the launch of X250 XF. A fairly low cost but surprisingly comprehensive refresh programme saw the X400 receive new bumpers front and rear, more discreet side rubbing mouldings, deeper sills, full width rear plinth and a new grille. The grille used the same moulded plastic ‘chunky’ mesh design as the XF and facelifted XJ and a similar badge, now planted in the middle. The grille had a body-coloured outer edge with a chrome inner fillet, and no longer canted forward like the original, making the X400 actually look a little less fussy. The facelift model also received the new Ford Premier Automotive Group passenger vehicle corporate wing mirror incorporating side repeater light as used on XF, XJ and many Volvos. Incidentally, Jaguar instead opted to redesign the shell and repeater in time for X351, and passing the new design on to XF and XK.
The changes on the exterior were relatively minor with no new sheet metal, but effectively differentiated the new model with existing car whilst the changes inside and ‘under-the-skin’ were more numerous. New seat trims and patterns, including a quilted and soft-grain leather, and new door panels were introduced and many new wood or other material veneer options, as well as felt lined door pockets in the front doors, new cloth lined A and C pillar trims to match the headlining rather than the original plastic items, new tungsten metallic finished vents including chrome lined thumb wheels, new console finishes to match the new vents. Revised dials also ensured the revised interior was at least visually more expensive.
Under the bonnet, engine revisions saw the newer 2.2 diesel mated to an automatic, six-speed no less, complete with a Tiptronic style sequential manual mode, and with a new more conventional shifter in addition to its six-speed manual option. The 3.0 petrol automatic continued as before, however, and was the last Jaguar to ever feature the classic J-gate. Amazingly, the barely revised AJ-V6 is still passing EU emissions laws today (2010). For the UK market, sadly the 3.0 V6 was dropped in saloon models altogether, and could only be specified therefore in the touring body shell. That said, some markets such as Japan still favoured the 3.0 saloon.
During this period, Jaguar Land Rover was rocked by the sale to Tata Motors and, at the beginning of 2008, the announcement was made that JLR would be sold by Ford to Tata.
The revised X400 carried on quite successfully, earning its keep in emerging markets as well as providing honest income as an affordable and reliable luxury executive for fleet users in more traditional markets. The recession of 2008 also worked in X400’s favour, more expensive cars were out of reach and offers on the proven X-Type were quite generous, the diesel engines very frugal and sales actually increased. Unfortunately, a new axe was hanging over the small Jaguar’s head, this time in the form of the forthcoming Range Rover Evoque.
Evoque also used a principally similar architecture, being Freelander 2 based, and had a lot in common with the X400; it was a downsized version of a luxury car, highly specified but based on slightly more humble platforms. Evoque was a replacement for the X-Type, possibly conceptually but not really a spiritual one. In terms of styling, Evoque is probably a ‘how to?’ lesson in achieving this objective, having learnt from the mistakes of X-Type, and benefitting from a huge amount of Jaguar parts.
On 18 December, 2009, the last X-Type rolled off the production line at Halewood. Freelander sales were strong and Evoque pilot builds would be starting over the next year, there was no longer a place for the ‘baby Jag’. With no direct replacement, Jaguar Land Rover sacrificed its footing in the small luxury executive saloon and estate marketplace and the X-Type would be shunned by various senior figures in the business, slated in the press by any journalist looking to rehash the usual clichéd badge engineering jibes and worst car lists, and leaving mixed impressions in the public, usually those negative belonging to armchair experts with no experience of the car.
Given the cars eight year lifespan, it is interesting to speculate if a few minor differences would have possibly increased the models allure to customers, a squarer and flatter roofline and glasshouse, more akin to the Series III XJ than the X200 S-Type would have made the car look far more cutting-edge and less specification sensitive, although perhaps a little too close to an E34/46 3-Series. Likewise, the doors could have done away with pressed provisions for rubbing stripes, and the bonnet could have been slightly more subtle, at least at the edges, as could the front wings, helping to reduce the visual clutter. Larger wheels should have been available at launch, too.
Had the rear bumper been a little deeper, the profile of the car would also have been fairly equally weighted front to rear, where as in the finished car, the rear can look as though it belongs to a slightly smaller, slimmer car. These changes would have certainly helped during the MY09 facelift, as the X358 XJ at the same time lost side rubbing mouldings, and looked infinitely better as a result. So too did the end-of-the-line X200s, having also lost rubbing strips and with a less depressed rear end. Inside a more contemporary architecture, methods of using traditional materials in newer, sharper ways as per the 2008 XF, would have helped appeal to the desired customers and kept up with the technological revolution that was encompassing day to day life.
A continuous improvement plan to incorporate increased functionality would have been useful, as it stood the amazing amount of features the media system had at launch meant there was little in reserve once the Bluetooth ‘phone compatibility was included for further developments such as Apple’s runaway success, iPod. Kit that was included such as adaptive cruise control, or adaptive damping never found its way onto the options list, nor did cooled seats, tyre pressure monitoring or true keyless ignition.
Did Jaguar get the X400 so wrong though? In terms of styling, management were a little naïve and Ford a little arrogant. The American market demanded traditional Jaguar as discussed before, but this was ignoring the fact that not only the US, but the global markets were buying the plainer German opposition in their droves, despite their ideas of what a Jaguar should be. In fact, they were probably judging their preconceptions and therefore expectations as being the product that they therefore wanted, which clearly is a different but easily mistakable concept. Another consideration is that the X400 was clearly ‘out-there’ for Jaguar traditionalists, styling that was equally progressive would have perhaps proved a step too far.
In terms of its engineering, X400 was a valiant effort to bring a competitive new product to the market despite difficulty in having no platform available. The specification sheets read like an engineer’s dream, rear-biased all-wheel-drive, variable everything, automatic lights and dimming mirrors, class leading performance and so on. What more could any ‘petrol-head’ desire? Unfortunately, Jaguar had banked on these ‘car-people’ to buy these cars, it seemed there were far fewer individuals in a position to do so than had been anticipated.