- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

Has Jaguar gone completely mad? When the auto industry shows a slowing trend, sales are not quite what auto insiders would like, Jaguar introduces a station wagon. Surely it has suffered a mad cow episode.

Not so, this British-bred auto company has a firm gasp on where it is headed and it is not going to let a market get away from it.

The new X- Type Sportwagon is a wonderfully executed vehicle that offers a wide range of features that buyers are looking for, but without the massiveness of a sport utility. It also offers a level of luxury you would expect from the Leaper.

Roominess is a major factor with the X- Type Sportwagon. Granted, there isn’t a third row of seats, but there is a great deal of storage area for all the things a family carries with them.

One aspect the Sportwagon offers that had me sitting up and taking notice was its handling prowess. This is not a large lumbering vehicle that is hideous to drive on twisting mountain roads. This X-Type is a vehicle that, while hauling all your stuff, can be quite fun on your favorite country road.

The competent 3.0-liter V-6 engine propels you to highway speeds quickly. On those mountain roads it accelerates quickly to speed you from turn to turn. With 227 horsepower you have the power to merge into traffic.

This Jag also shows it is more than an ordinary grocery getter. As I entered those tight turns there was little body roll. The suspension is firm to make this superb handling possible, but not overly so to make daily driving uncomfortable. The X-Type Sportwagon makes an excellent choice with little compromise.

Partial credit can go to the fact that the engine’s power goes to all four wheels thanks to Jaguar’s Traction 4 all-wheel-drive system.

Not only does this system assist in making driving in foul weather safer, it improves dry-weather handling.

A major contributor to this uncompromising ability is the increased attention to rigidity. The twisting and flexing of a vehicle body, particularly an extended wagon body, is the root of many of complaints about wagons. Jaguar engineers looked at improving the rigidity.

Another feature of a wagon that presents a problem for engineers is the large rear door and opening.

Making a large opening and therefore a large door can contribute to flexing, but using new technology Jaguar engineers have given this area additional strength.

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