Don’t get me wrong – the Jaguar X-Type is a likeable enough car, and one which along with the Rover 75 adds a little bit of Englishness to a market sector dominated by German badge-wagens.
However, the X-Type was always something of an experiment for Jaguar. It has been pitched into a part of the car market previously unknown to Jaguar – the middle management sector. This is the place where the 3-Series, A4 and C-Class are king, and to muscle in, you’re going to have to come up with a pretty impressive USP. In Jaguar’s (or should I say Ford’s) case, the X-Type had everything going for it – a prestige badge, four wheel drive and a patina of post-modern retro that is a genuine alternative to the contemporary style of the Germans.
Sales haven’t been great, though – and the Jaguar X-Type is struggling in the market place. Many buyers perceived this car as a re-bodied Mondeo (the two cars do share a great deal of hardware), and although it offered four-wheel-drive, the driving experience was not as special as it could have been. And because it hasn’t been seen as a ‘special’ car, there are elements of the media saying it is diluting all that Jaguar stands for.
Certainly, it’s a lack of ‘specialness’ in the X-Type’s DNA, which harms its chances, and devalues the Jaguar name.
Because the X-Type hasn’t been seen as a
‘special’ car, there are elements of the
media saying it is diluting all that
Jaguar stands for.
But the business plan behind the car was a sound one when Ford thought it up. It realised there was a dwindling number of punters out there for a full-sized family car that didn’t offer a pretige badge. User-Choosers were moving away from their Vauxhalls and Fords and ‘up’ into BMWs and Audis. For Ford to prosper in Europe, it needed to offer a classier alternative to the Mondeo – and that meant building a smaller Jaguar.
All well and good, but after the X-Type project was kicked off, Ford bought up Volvo, and found itself with the perfect middle-class car. The Swedish marque offers rock solid brand values – and unlike Jaguar, has a long history of building mid-market executive cars…
So, Jaguar is in trouble – a £610m loss last year is worrying to say the least – but it is not irreversible. It is one of the most respected names in the motoring world, and has a long a glorious competition heritage to call upon. What it doesn’t have is a tradition of building underachieving cars for aspirational photocopier salesmen. Is it not time to admit the experiment was a failure, and to return to what Jaguar does best – building super saloons and coupes?
The XJ is a world beater (even if the retro-style could well hamper it), the S-Type has been developed into a great car too (if you can get past the styling), and next year’s XK promises to be a fabulous car (assuming peoople don’t start thinking of Jaguar Coupes as slightly inferior Aston-Martins). Leave it at that, and return the big cat to its traditional hunting ground, and its future should be safe…
If Ford must have a classy Mondeo to sell, let’s put Volvo badges on it, eh…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.