By Al Vinikour
Jaguar has a new addition to its family for 2005 — and it’s the kind of addition that’s become a standard in the European luxury ranks. The Sportwagon joins in with the compact wagons from Audi, Mercedes, BMW, and soon, Saab, in a sort of battle of the bands where there are no losers — indeed, there’s hardly an also-ran in the group.
The Sportwagon is based on the entry-level X-Type sedan, which came to North America in 2002. Jaguar hoped that today’s X-Type buyer would be tomorrow’s customer for its other offerings, from the mid-level S-Type to the top-of-the-line XKs and XJs. And though some 100,000 X-Types have been sold in North America, the smallest Jaguar has needed incentives to keep its sales at decent levels. It’s not done much to improve the brand image here, but in Europe it’s been a bigger success, especially with the diesel versions now plying the streets.
The Sportwagon gives the X-Type some much-needed, mid-lifecycle interest. And the versatility of the wagon body, built around luxury trappings, gives the lineup an appealing entry in the niche dominated by Audi and BMW.
To attain five-door nirvana, Jaguar took the front end of the X-Type and grafted on the handsome wagon back. Of all the wagons in the class, the Sportwagon seems the most dramatically changed by the transformation — and it’s a handsome look to boot.
The wagon back adds a good amount of usable space to the compact X-Type body, one of the roomier vehicles in the class. With the 70/30 rear seats folded forward, maximum interior volume is 50 cubic feet. With the rear seats in use it still has 15.7 cubic feet of luggage volume to the bottom of the window level and 24.2 cubic feet to the roofline. Seating capacity is technically five but realistically four. There’s minimum rear-seat legroom if a tall driver is positioned ideally at the controls.