- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2005

What an ingenious creation from the folks at Jaguar: build a station wagon — not just a functional, practical wagon, but also a sexy, head-turning, dynamic, stylish “sport wagon.”

The new 2005 Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon adds glamour to the station wagon market segment. Just as flexible and utilitarian as owners would expect from their wagons, the X-Type Sportwagon also provides buyers with access to expected luxury and European-tuned performance.

The Sportwagon looks typical of the compact X-Type sedan, from the grille to the B-pillars. From the rear doors to the tailgate, the Sportwagon’s elongated roof gently slopes back for an aerodynamic, elegant finish.

The tail end of the X-Type is not just an afterthought. A lot of forethought went into the design construction of the Sportwagon. I like the dual split opening of the lift glass and gate, making for a variety of flexible, easy ways to store and retrieve packages from a fully carpeted spacious cargo area. A retractable tonneau cover hides possession and a cargo net keeps groceries from spilling. The 70/30 split-fold second-row seat allows for one or two passengers to travel while cargo is being transported.

The roof-mounted spoiler and antenna are excellent flair from the British maker. The spoiler incorporates the rear window-washer nozzle and a high-mounted brake light. The silver roof rails provide an additional means for cargo-carrying. The styling attention that has been put into the rear of the Sportwagon allows it to truly stand out as a unique offering in the X-Type lineup.

The X-Type Sportwagon is well-equipped and starts at $36,330. Standard comfort features include an eight-way power driver’s seat, leather trim seats, a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel, a power moon roof, and automatic climate control with pollutant filtration.

Under the sleek hood of the X-Type lineup is an all-aluminum V-6 engine, boasting of a light, compact and advanced design, allowing for sporty performance, good fuel economy and low emissions.

The 24-valve, 3.0-liter V-6 generates 227 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 206 foot-pounds of torque at a low rpm of 3,000. A manual transmission is not offered on the Sportwagon, but comes standard on the X-Type sedan.

A five-speed automatic transmission is standard on the Sportwagon. Fuel economy ratings are 18 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway. The manual in the sedan will also get 18 mpg in the city, but will deliver 28 mpg on the highway.

The X-Type is an all-wheel-drive vehicle, but it is amazingly quiet on the road and offers a precise steering feel. I could have easily thought I was operating a front-wheel-drive wagon.

The wheels on the test Sportwagon were 17-inch alloys with all-season tires. They hugged the road in great sporting fashion, without serving up a lot of road noise.

Jaguar’s all-wheel-drive system is called Traction-4. The AWD system offers a 40/60 percent split on torque distribution from front to rear, offering great rear-wheel-drive-like driving performance and sending traction to the wheel that needs it when slippage is detected. Dynamic stability control is optional. The air-bag system covers nearly every body part, such as a driver’s-side knee air bag and dual front, seat-mounted side-impact (front-row only) and side-curtain air bags for the front and rear passengers.

In the auto business, there’s always a new spin on an old idea.

The Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon is destined to appeal to the upscale station-wagon buyer.

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