One of Jag’s more understated cars has perhaps proven the most controversial. Even 17 years after initial launch, it still divides opinion among enthusiasts
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• Project £700-£1300 • Good £1300-£4900 • Concours £4900-£8000 •
Running costs ★★★
DIY friendly ★★★
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Frequently targeted with ‘merely a Ford Mondeo in disguise’ comments, the Jaguar X-type has been criticised almost as much as it’s been praised since it was first launched back in 2001. This is true to the point that even keen connoisseurs of the British brand virtually ignore the model’s existence.
However, is this fair? Currently representing surprisingly good value on the classic market, the model offers a smart exterior, lavishly appointed cabin, performance that near-matches that of the S-type and the option of Jaguar’s first-ever estate.
Then there’s its four-star NCAP safety rating, more hi-tech extras than any Jaguar had before it and particularly strong mpg on the diesel editions – all in addition to that all-important badge on the nose. You could well be shooting yourself in the foot for not trying one, simply because of a bias against the platform being shared between Jaguar and Ford’s incredibly popular Mondeo. Here’s our guide for getting the most out of what the X-type has to offer …
Your AutoClassics Jaguar X-type inspection checklist
If economy is a key consideration, it’s worthwhile determining what X-type engine best suits your needs. The earliest examples came with either a 2.5- or 3.0-litre AJ-V6 petrol unit teamed with all-wheel drive, followed shortly after by a 2.0-litre front-wheel-drive edition.
A diesel variant arrived in 2003 thanks to a sudden rise in the popularity of this fuel, later followed by a 2.2-litre that could combine an impressive 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds with 47mpg. The 2.2 diesel is considered by many enthusiasts as the best engine choice, as it seamlessly blends brisk performance with commendable efficiency. This is true if you also opt for a manual, keeping emissions and therefore road tax lower. Petrol X-types are generally cheaper to buy at the outset, but will cost significantly more to run long term.
The fact that X-type engines do not feature a cambelt may prove a relief to those who’ve been stung by cambelt failure before. Its very absence automatically reduces maintenance costs. However, don’t be lured into thinking that X-types require minimal upkeep. Early models suffered from a surprising number of issues under the bonnet, including failed cooling fans, ECU glitches and unusually low revs combined with dimmed lights when in stop-start traffic.
As you’d expect from a class-leading manufacturer, Jaguar was quick to acknowledge and eradicate these problems from its later X-types, but unless there is proven remedial work within a vehicle’s history file, an early model may still possess some engine bay niggles. It’s therefore a sensible strategy to buy the newest edition of X-type that you can, preferably also with a modest mileage.
Whatever the year of manufacture, it’s worth looking over all filters and spark plugs for signs of wear, as these can be pricey to replace. A quick check of the coolant level and oil condition will give you an indication of the level of care the previous owner has invested in the car. After these checks, start the engine to establish whether it idles evenly. If it doesn’t, and you can also hear rumblings, the bottom crank pulley damper assembly may have failed and could necessitate a costly engine rebuild.
If when assessing a 2.0-litre diesel you encounter engine stalling combined with the fault codes P1211 and P0251 on the interior screen, a faulty fuel pump may be to blame. If the codes are P1665 or P1664, suspect a faulty ECU. If no codes are present but the car is proving hesitant at starting, the engine-speed sensor may be damaged, but this can be replaced with relative ease. If the engine starts well but struggles at low revs, the ECU may be to blame. A simple software up-date will remedy the problem.
When out on a test drive, particularly when assessing an X-type from between May 2005 and January 2010, find a quiet stretch of road to engage and disengage the cruise control a few times. If you detect any reluctance in the system, this will need to be urgently addressed with an ECU software update, as some customers have reported that cruise control can be prone to not disengaging and is therefore a safety concern.
On diesel X-types, be wary of a vehicle that fails to start or is notably reluctant to do so, particularly if no fault code is displayed on the dashboard. This likely indicates that the engine-speed sensor is damaged or that the dual-mass flywheel has failed. A new engine-speed sensor can be fitted with relative ease, but replacing the flywheel can be expensive.
If testing a manual, ensure to work your way up and down through the gearing, listening out for any untoward noises that would hint at underlying issues. Check for drivetrain drone on all-wheel-drive manuals. Although this is generally considered a characteristic of the all-wheel-drive system, it may be worth investigating the condition of the wheel bearings to rule out any other potential issues. If all sounds well but the clutch pedal feels particularly heavy, imminent clutch replacement is likely.
Many have criticised the X-type’s automatic gearboxes, with a number of owners expressing that these units do not feel as smooth as they would’ve expected and that the system is more of a hindrance than an advantage to the vehicle overall.
The only way to find out if the set-up suits you is to give it a try. Given the high sales of automatic X-types when new, it’s clear not every test drive equalled an unsatisfied customer. However, be aware that negative feedback has also centred on a lack of durability from the automatic system, with many owners feeling the sting of high repair costs.
If you are absolutely set on obtaining an automatic, aim for the most recent X-type you can afford, which ideally should also come with a reasonably low mileage. However, bear in mind that this can be a tricky combination to find – the more reliable automatics tend to be used more frequently and consequently gain miles on the odometer more rapidly.
Whatever year of manufacture you opt for, ensure to listen out for any clunking noises from the transmission. If the car isn’t running smoothly or if an engine-management warning light comes on, you may have gearbox issues to contend with. A near-constant howling noise coming from underneath an all-wheel-drive model suggests a transfer box in need of replacement.
Suspension and brakes
If assessing an early X-type, you’ll likely be blessed with the all-wheel-drive system, but be aware that 2.0-litre models were recalled for knocking front and rear anti-roll-bar bushes. Chances are this will have been addressed a long time ago, but if not, the bushes will need replacing.
When on a test drive, the X-type should feel anchored yet responsive. Should you find your confidence dwindling behind the wheel, the suspension may carry alignment issues or a radius arm in the rear suspension might need replacing. Problems in the alignment will show most readily through unusual tyre wear so, if suspicious, glance over the X-type’s tread.
Some X-type owners have reported problems with the electronic stability-control systems, most commonly that the traction control kicks in too early and temporarily locks a wheel. If combined with a warning light and fault code U1900, a defective ABS system is your culprit.
Should you feel the brakes are not as competent as you would expect, getting the yaw rate sensor checked is highly worthwhile. This is also true if you experience unexpected brake application out on the road.
Finally, during your test drive, aim to park the X-type on an incline in order to challenge the handbrake. Some owners reported their cars had rolled away despite the handbrake being engaged. This was due to a fault with the automatic adjuster, which should have since been replaced with a manual version. Check the service history for any details of this amendment. If it hasn’t been carried out, but issues present themselves during the parking test, a swap to a manual adjuster will provide the necessary cure.
With more than adequate space for four adults, plus a generous boot, the X-type came in both four-door saloon and five-door estate configuration. The majority of the body is made from zinc-coated steel that bestows impressive strength, whilst impact-absorbing crash structures gave the X-type an impressive four-star NCAP safety rating in 2002 tests. Little criticism directly relates to the X-type’s bodywork, but there are a few basic checks that are always worth carrying out.
The rear inner sills seem to be a weak spot, so it’s worth getting under the car to examine the condition of the underbelly. Replacement sill sections need to come directly from Jaguar and can be pricey, so checking over this area could save you unnecessary expense.
Check that the chrome trim around the rear windows is in good condition and firmly in place. If it’s loose in this area, it usually means that both the trim and the glass in the affected area will need replacing, which can therefore prove a more expensive fix than you might expect.
X-type door latches and the central-locking system can prove problematic, especially on early cars, so test out the vehicle’s ability to open and close all round. If you have issues with the central-locking key fob, replace the battery with a new one to see if this fixes the issue. If not, the key may need to be taken to Jaguar for reprogramming, which can be a straightforward but expensive fix for such a minor niggle.
As we said, the earliest X-types will usually have the all-wheel-drive system and all of the handling benefits that come with it. However, beware that this system can eat tyres more rapidly than the four-wheel-drive editions, so you will need to routinely check rubber wear. It’s also worthwhile doing this while assessing a potential purchase, as it will be indicative of the previous owner’s level of care with the car. If you spot uneven tyre wear, the alignment in the suspension may need corrected.
Finally, check that the bolt used for unlocking nuts on alloy wheels hasn’t become deformed by previous use, as this could leave you stuck in the event of a puncture.
For the safety conscious, it’s worth checking whether your chosen X-type comes with the optional JaguarNet system. In the event of an accident where the airbags have been deployed, this will automatically telephone for emergency assistance.
If assessing an early model be aware it’ll likely have a reduced quota of optional extras, as many elements were introduced and added as standard fitments as the years ticked by. The build quality within earlier models is often lower, too, so check for loose fittings within the cabin as well as front seats that may have worked loose on their runners. This may affect your overall opinion of the car.
Also be aware that many early X-types were recalled due to indicator faults – usually in the form of the interior indicator light flashing and no fault code appearing on the dashboard display despite the exterior flasher not working. X-types affected were usually early 2.0-litre editions manufactured between January 2001 and October 2002. If the issue has been addressed, a previously affected car will have received a new ECU with modified software, so check both the functionality of the indicators as well as the vehicle’s history file.
- 2001: X-type is launched with either a 2.5-or 3.0-litre V6 as well as all-wheel-drive
- 2001: 2.0 front-wheel-drive model is added to X-type range
- 2003: Jaguar utilises diesel for first time with X-type, initially as a 2.0-litre followed later by the 2.2
- 2004: Jaguar’s first estate, known as Sportwagon in America, joins production
- 2007: X-type receives facelift with revised facias and new door mirrors featuring integrated indicator repeaters
- 2009: Production of all X-type models closes in July
Rather than being swayed by a somewhat unfair bias against the X-type thanks to its evolutionary link with the Ford Mondeo, why not challenge yourself to make your own judgement on this mostly unsung hero? For a classic that is quick, technologically advanced and durable, while also priced at a very reasonable cost, the X-type has a great deal to offer.
Unless you’re set on the top specification possessed by the 3.0-litre V6, petrol editions don’t generally provide a satisfactory mix of performance and economy. A diesel, however, especially the 2.2-litre, will cost you more initially but far less overall, and is therefore worthy of consideration.
As a general rule, the newer the X-type you aim for, the fewer problems you’re likely to incur – but careful checks of both vehicle and paperwork can result in an equally gratifying purchase from the model’s earlier days.
Image courtesy of Jaguar Media
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