Jaguar X-Type Compact Saloon – X400

One of the first images of the 2001 Jaguar X-Type showed the Sport model with body-colour grille surround.

The smaller Jaguar saloons were replaced with the XJ6 in 1968 and it was not until 2001 that a compact Jaguar was introduced into the range.

With the introduction of the XK120 and Mark VII models Jaguar broke into the North American market in a big way.  These models gave the Company a degree of financial stability to expand their operations.  Jaguar Managing Director  William Lyons grabbed the opportunity with both hands and moved from the cramped Foleshill plant to a larger factory at Browns Lane.  He also realised that Jaguar’s two-model line-up would be enhanced by the introduction of a smaller car with all the expected Jaguar luxury and sporting features.  The result was the XK-powered 2.4-litre saloon of 1955 which gave Jaguar a successful mid-sized saloon that remained in production – albeit much developed – until 1968 when the entire saloon range was replaced by the Jaguar XJ6.

These were also the days of British Leyland (BL) ownership and a smaller Jaguar that would compete with Rover and Triumph models was not seriously considered.  Besides, the cost involved in developing such a model was beyond Jaguar – BL finances at the time.

Independent Jaguar

Jaguar was split from the BL conglomerate and as an independent manufacturer continued with the XJ saloon series and the XJ-S GT until 1989 when the Ford Motor Company bought the marque.  Ford immediately spent several millions on bringing the Browns Lane plant up to date with new equipment and also invested in a new range of models that would take Jaguar to new levels.  Leading the design team was the gifted Geoff Lawson who very cleverly re-bodied the angular lines of the XJ40 into the pleasing X300 series of XJ6 models.  His team also produced the XK8 – which brought Jaguar back into sleek sports cars – and the S-Type, which gave Jaguar another very distinctive saloon and one that was quite different from the XJ.

November 1997 – front three-quarters view of a full-size clay of X400 at Whitley: two different arrangements of the front are to be seen, both of which are unlike the first sketches.

However, Ford still wanted a smaller Jaguar in the line-up to compete with the BMW 3-series and the Audi A4 and by 1992 were pressing for such a model.  The brief was that this car should not compromise the valued Jaguar brand but would have to use some Ford-sourced items.  This included the CD132 platform that would be shared with the Mondeo, which Jaguar would develop and adapt as required for their new model.

The first ideas for the X400 (Jaguar’s internal code for the X-Type project) were produced in 1997.  From the various drawings four were selected to go to the next stage.

Simon Butterworth was design project manager on the X400 and he remembered:  “We went to the design clinic with forty per cent scale images; pictures that had been computer-enhanced on Paintbox with alternative treatments.  Essentially they are variations on the theme.  We did not spend too much time pontificating on what we should do.  We were clearly focused on the direction we felt would work.  After the endorsement from that initial research we were off and running.”

1997 – the design was chosen from this sketch by Wayne Burgess who led the body style team. The frontal treatment was finely-adjusted to make it to prototype.

It was one of Lawson’s team, Wayne Burgess, whose design sketch was selected and he was given the task of producing the exterior design.  Burgess later recalled that as the X400 was to be front-wheel drive – a Jaguar first – it would be quite different from all Jaguars before it.  “We gave it four ellipsoidal headlamps to make it wider and lower the visual centre of gravity.  It also immediately differentiated it from the X308 (XJ8) on which the X400 was clearly themed.  We tried round headlamps but they did not have the same sense of drama and aggression.  I was reminded of the De Havilland Comet airliner’s engine intakes and these were the inspiration for the shape of the headlamps.”  This frontal aspect was important to give the X400 its own identity but also retain a family look.

Next Burgess and the design team, which included Simon Butterworth, considered the side aspect, here they raised the waistline as it led to the rear of the car and this enabled the glass area to be slimmed down.  The rising waistline improved the overall aerodynamics of the car as well as increasing boot volume.

At the time of the launch, Jaguar claimed it as the largest in its class. Burgess:  “The bodyside treatment is complex but it’s all about reducing apparent height of the bodyside and making it look longer.  As the X400 is slightly cab-forward it moves Jaguar away from traditional rear-wheel drive proportioning.  Because the car has four-wheel drive it doesn’t have to have the cab so far back.”

An image issued in 2001 shows the power-train of the X400, with the transversely mounted engine and the layout of the Jaguar Traction-4 full-time all-wheel drive system.

Four-wheel or all-wheel drive was not new to Jaguar, they had already carried out a four-wheel drive test programme in a road-running XJS for the projected XJ41 but this was cancelled in 1989.  The XJ220 prototype was also fitted with all-wheel drive.

To engineer an all-wheel-drive system with an in-line engine there are several complications, especially in taking the drive to the front wheels; so it was decided to mount the Jaguar AJ-V6 engine (as fitted to the S-type) transversely driving the front wheels.  The engine was installed transversely because, as existing designs had shown, that made it easier to engineer the four-wheel-drive transmission.  With a standard in-line engine, gearbox and rear-wheel-drive layout major problem have to be overcome if one wants to make it front-wheel drive.

Jaguar’s own exploratory work had shown that it is easier to begin with a front-wheel-drive layout with either a transverse or in-line engine ahead of the final drive and then take the additional driveline to the rear wheels by tapping into the front final drive.  Also, by choosing the transverse route Jaguar was able to leave the door open for a front-wheel-drive only version, which did indeed later appear.

For the X200 (S-Type) Jaguar engineers started with the Ford Duratec V6 engine and developed a 3.0- and 4.0-litre unit with new cylinder heads based on the Jaguar AJ-V8; in fact when viewed end-on the combustion chambers and valve gear appear identical.  The lessons learned from Nicasil liners from the V8 meant Jaguar used cast-in-place iron cylinder liners instead.  For the X400 the 3.0-litre unit was chosen and a smaller 2.5-litre variant was developed with the bore diameter reduced to 81.65 mm (from 89 mm) and a capacity of 2,497 cc.  The all-wheel-drive (AWD) car had a centre differential giving a front to rear split of 40:60.  A viscous coupling built into the centre differential meant that if a wheel or both wheels at one end of the car begin to spin, torque is transferred away from that end to the other.  For the manual transmission version the well-known five-speed Getrag gearbox was used but, as the engine was mounted transversely, Jaguar could not use any of their existing suppliers for an automatic transmission version.  After some trials they selected a five-speed unit from JATCO in Japan.

Late 1997 – Tadeusz (Tad) Jelec and Joe Buck designed the interior for the X400 – this image shows an early clay form taking shape in the studio at Whitley.

Burgess and his team continued to work on the exterior details while Tadeusz (Tad) Jelec and Joe Buck concentrated on the cabin interior.  This may have been a small Jaguar but there was never any suggestion of compromise.  Jelec commented: “We ended up with the most comfortable seats and driving position so far in the Jaguar range.  It’s all because the design department had a sub-department that dealt with ergonomics.  They were fantastic and gave us a great deal of feed-back. Our job was to create an environment that takes care of you, embraces you and makes you feel cosseted.”  

That may sound like ‘market-speak’ but it is true; there was no compromise in making the driving and riding experience in the X400 anything but Jaguar.

Engineering the X400

Helping the occupants of the new Jaguar to a smooth ride was another departure for the Company. For the first time Jaguar used MacPherson struts – a well-tried Ford system – with an L-shaped lateral link at the front of the X400 and a completely new torsion control multi-link arrangement at the rear.  This arrangement included a blade-type trailing link that was stiff vertically but deliberately weak horizontally so that the other links would transmit the cornering forces evenly and contribute to a smooth driving experience.  Ford had developed this system for use on their new range that had been announced in 1998.  Both front and rear systems were mounted on subframes to isolate the mounting points against road noise and vibration.  Although in the early days MacPherson struts had something of a poor reputation for handling, Ford had developed the system considerably for use in volume production and laid this ghost to rest.

Early prototype in camouflage on the notorious pavé section at the MIRA proving ground. The test team laboured long hours proving the suspension, which was different from the rest of the Jaguar range.

For the X400 Mike Cross (Jaguar engineering and chief test driver) and his team further developed the MacPherson strut suspension in order to maximise ride refinement and reduce torque steer.  Certainly, when the first working engineering prototype X400s were tested the suspension system was found to be exceptional and greatly enhanced the overall handling of the car.

This was ably demonstrated by Cross and the Jaguar test team in trials with the car in a variety of conditions from dirt tracks and English B-roads to the cold of Iceland and the speed of Donnington race track as well as intensive testing at the MIRA facility.

Clive Tivey, chief engineer on the X400, explained: “ We set out to create a real driver’s car and that process began by achieving class-leading stiffness to the body.  This we got by close attention to every joint and section rather than with specific features.”

Adding to the strength and stiffness of the overall body was use of large one-piece sections which reduced the number of joints:  for example the side body panel is a one-piece pressing which is matched by a one-piece inner pressing.  Cross explained that Jaguar wanted to produce a car that was sporty with a “…very connected feel but also relaxed on the road.  The idea was to flatter drivers without intimidating them.”  Experience in building the S-Type at Castle Bromwich helped the Jaguar-Ford engineers to replicate some build aspects, such as the large one-piece sections, for the X400.

Geoff Lawson was busy with the S-Type (X200) programme while the X400 was taking shape at Whitley but he oversaw the model and encouraged the team.  Lawson was keen to move Jaguar into a new style – he had shown this by the XK8 styled with Fergus Pollack – and given time it is apparent that he had other ideas of where Jaguar should have been in ten or so years.  However, he died suddenly and Ian Callum was given the task of seeing the X400 through.  Callum could not change anything as the X350 (XJ) and the X400 were already in the advanced development stage. Ian recalled: “I arrived as the X-Type was pretty well coming to fruition.  My involvement was making sure what the (styling) department had done reached production.  The detail, the colour and grain matching.  It’s down to us to police that.  Grading parts can go on until three months before production.  As late as that.”  Later, Ian would give the X-Type a very successful refreshed look for its final years in production.

Introduction and Sales

2001 – Jaguar X-Type 2½ Litre First Production X-Type X1 TYP

When the Jaguar X400 was announced as the X-Type, it was greeted with reservations by some and enthusiasm by many.  Here was a model that brought Jaguar core values to a new market.  Jaguar was determined that their new smaller saloon would not simply be a clone of the larger models but would have a personality of its own; one that would take on the similar class Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz offerings. To do this, the X400 had to be equal if not better and when the first examples were tested by the motoring press it was deemed to be a worthy challenger.  In fact, What Car magazine pitted the X-Type 3.0-litre against the German trio and singled out the Jaguar as the winner.  To quote part of the lengthy article:  ‘The Jaguar wins, not because it is the cheapest or newest or British or for any other spurious reason, but because it is damned good.  A lot of people will be delighted that they can put a Jaguar of this size on the drive – and even more delighted when they find out just how good it is.’

Late in 2000 Jaguar announced the X-Type which would go on sale the following year with versions of the AJ-V6 in 2.5- and 3.0-litre form.  Here was a compact saloon, but only a foot shorter than the XJ, and one that had all the Jaguar luxury and driving quality.  There were the detractors who opined that it was just a ‘Ford Mondeo in Jaguar clothing’.  That statement was, and is, simply rubbish.  Of course, Ford engineers worked with Jaguar on the underpinnings, it made economic sense and gave Jaguar a really fine car.  In turn the Mondeo benefitted from the venture and Ford had a better model.  The Ford plant at Halewood, where the Escort had been made, was chosen to build the X-Type.  As the Escort was coming to the end of its production life a team from Browns Lane went to Halewood to prepare the workforce in building the Jaguar way.  Ford Escort production ended in July 2000 and the workforce were retrained to make cars in the Jaguar manner.  Visits by workers to Castle Bromwich and Browns Lane, plus added training sessions continued in 2000 and by the end of the scheme Halewood workers embraced the Jaguar ethos and build quality.  David Hudson, who had been production director at Browns Lane, moved to  Halewood in the same role and oversaw the change-over from Ford to Jaguar.  Ford invested around $400 million in revising the Halewood plant, which now operated with a reduced workforce who were to adapt for the change of making the inexpensive mass-produced Escort to a premium-class car.  The late Mike Beasley was posted to Halewood from Browns Lane to take overall charge of the plant.  Halewood was to become one of the best manufacturing plants in the Ford portfolio and continues to build models for Land Rover.

Jaguar announced a two-litre petrol front-wheel-drive model soon after the launch in 2001; it was still the AJ-V6 as used in the S-Type and all-wheeldrive X-Type.  The bore could not be reduced so the stroke was reduced to 66.8 mm (from 79.5 mm) to give a capacity of 2,099 cc.  The manual and automatic transmission options remained the same.  Jaguar had to keep up with market demands and the increasing call for a diesel engined model.  To investigate the route, during the 1990s Jaguar had tested an XJ6 Series 3 with a BMW 2.5-litre six-cylinder diesel engine.  Given the internal code XJ59 the trials continued and plans were made to introduce the model but BMW discontinued the 2.5-litre engine for an all-new 3.0-litre unit and Jaguar abandoned the BMW diesel engine route.  However, with Ford backing and their Duratorq ZSD four-cylinder diesel engine, as used in the Mondeo and Transit, Jaguar could adapt the sixteen-valve, twin camshaft unit to suit the X-Type.  Ricardo, as leaders in advanced diesel technology, were consulted and the X404, as the engine was designated, gained its own air intake system and intercooler system, a different type of fuel injector and revised engine management taking cylinder-by-cylinder signals from a ‘combustion noise sensor (CNS) – the signals continuously trim the fuel delivery to each cylinder.’

A revised Getrag five-speed manual gearbox was introduced for the 2.0-litre diesel but there was no automatic transmission option; trials with the JATCO unit showed that it could not cope with the X404’s increased torque.  It remained as an option with the petrol engined version.  With the introduction of a diesel engine Jaguar continued to move away from what was expected from the marque and with the X-Type Estate, shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003, they moved even further into the busy marketplace.

Studio mock-up showing the interior, with rear seats folded, of the Jaguar X-Type Estate Car, also known as the Sportwagon in some countries. The rear seats were redesigned to fold without removing the headrests.

This was the first time that Jaguar had offered a production estate car, there had been one-off examples by SVO and others in the past.  The X-Type body was taken and restyled from the B-pillars aft, which meant new rear doors, new roof, rear hatch and a completely new rear structure to meet rear-impact safety requirements.  The rear structure was made as stiff as possible; the rear seat redesigned to fold flat – without having to remove the headrests – to extend the load platform.

The revised design required 420 newly-tooled parts and 58 stampings for all components aft of the windscreen.  As the Estate used the saloon platform the same engine options were retained.  This elegant model was an immediate success and, at the time, offered the greatest load area of any estate model of its class.  Jaguar was not content to stand still and continued to develop the diesel engine theme.  This emerged as the 2.2-litre unit (with a Ford-Jaguar sequential ship six-speed automatic transmission option) to power the revived or face-lifted X-Type shown at the 2007 Motorexpo in London’s Canary Wharf.

2007 – the X-Type was given a few modifications to the overall body style and received a new grille and front to better match the X350 and keep the Jaguar resemblance.
This photograph shows the Estate Car version.

Ian Callum led the team which made changes to the overall look of the model without incurring heavy costs.  Externally the X-Type gained a new grille and some trim with revised bumpers and bore a stronger family resemblance with the XJ.  The model, offered with four engine options – the 2.0-litre petrol had been dropped –  went on sale in 2008 and lasted until December 2009 with the final X-Types (some 355,227 were built) coming off the line, the last Estate was placed with the JDHT collection in early 2010.

Ford expected the X-Type to become a mass-selling Jaguar and Halewood was geared up to build the model in quantity, but sales were not as large as Ford would have liked.  Versions of the X-Type have been used in sporting events with major alterations to the existing engine.  The 3.0-litre is no slouch and when it has been ‘breathed’ on by an engine expert it really does move.  Most of the kits for such engine modification have been developed in North America where the car sold to a different market sector.  For the US there were some different trim options and some special models were only sold in that market.

The X-Type brought Jaguar motoring to a new market and it became the best-selling Jaguar at the time.


Author: François Prins

© Text and Images – Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust