Many histories of Jaguar have been written, and no doubt there will be many more. In most of them, the sad saga of the Jaguar X-Type sedan is likely to be covered as a misguided diversion--if it's spoken of at all.
While the smallest Jaguar sedan was pulled from the US market after the 2008 model year, it has lived on in the UK and Europe. Now Jaguar has announced that production will end for good in December, six months early, to cut costs in the global economic downturn.
Launched in 2002 as the car that would build Jaguar into a high-volume competitor to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus, the X-Type was instead something of a disaster. Eagerly anticipated, it never came close to the Jaguar image of fast, elegant, sporty sedans.
Even in its best year, X-Type sales were just a fraction of projections. In the US, it suffered the indignity of losing its residual value faster than any other model on the market--including low-budget entries from the likes of Kia and Mitsubishi.
Part of the blame can be placed on Jaguar's owner, Ford Motor Company, which chose to put the X-Type on a platform shared with the Mondeo, its midsize sedan for the European market. This cut development costs, but the result was hardly a Jaguar.
To give the transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive car proper (rear-wheel-drive) Jaguar grip, all-wheel-drive was engineered into the car. All US models were sold that way, fitted with either a 2.5-liter or 3.0-liter V6 (the European range included front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder, and turbodiesel models).
The all-wheel-drive meant the X-Type was heavy for its size, and the ultra-conservative styling did nothing to make it stand out in a crowd of midsize sedans. Reviews were tepid at best, and initial excitement quickly turned into indifference. A short-lived station wagon version, Jaguar's first ever, did nothing to help.
Jaguar built more than 350,000 X-Types in eight years, making the marque's highest-volume model. But the future of the brand under new owner Tata Industries is in a very different direction.
Starting with the 2009 Jaguar XF, and the just-revealed 2010 Jaguar XJ, the cars will have distinctive cutting-edge styling, features unique to the marque, and be built in lower volumes.
The X-Type offered none of those characteristics, and so the sooner it passes into history, the better for the brand.
2007 Jaguar X-TYPE 4dr Wgn exterior rear right