First drive: face-lifted Jaguar X-type

* Face-lifted X-type * Good to drive; massive discounts * Some areas dated now...

First drive: face-lifted Jaguar X-type

Jaguar is a brand that's gone through massive changes over the last couple of years. The XK and XF have ushered in a whole new design language, ownership of the company has just passed from Ford to Tata and the future well, who knows?

In the face of all that, the tweaks Jaguar has made to the X-type seem like a drop in the ocean. In fact, Jaguar says there have been over 500 changes.

The most obvious is the new front bumper and grille, which give a more modern look, similar to that of the latest XJ. The door mirrors, side sills, rear bumper and some of the alloy wheel designs are also new.

Inside, the overall architecture is unchanged, but there's more to it than meets the eye. The front seats are new, for a start, and fresh materials, colours and instrument dials give a subtly updated look.

New diesel auto option

Mechanically, the only change is the option of a new six-speed automatic gearbox for the 2.2-litre diesel version. It's the first time that you've been able to buy an X-type diesel auto and it's a welcome addition.

There's now a reason for choosing the 2.2 diesel over the more frugal and almost-as-punchy 2.0 diesel. The box itself shifts smoothly between ratios, although it can be a little reticent to kick down, both under braking and when you want to accelerate hard.

You can take matters into your own hands if you choose, moving up or down by nudging the gearlever.

It goes without saying that - as well as the 1450 initial cost - the auto costs more to own than the six-speed manual version.

Fuel economy drops from 45.6mpg to 41mpg and CO2 emissions of 184g/km, rather than 164g/km, push it four categories higher for company car tax.

Both the 2.0 and 2.2 diesels are smooth and refined, but if lower running costs are your prime concern, it's still hard to look beyond the smaller engine.

Okay, it has 23bhp less power at 128bhp than the 2.2, but it still has a healthy 243lb ft of low-down pull and it doesn't feel much slower.

In the current financial climate, the 3.0 V6 petrol model - complete with four- rather than front-wheel drive - seems more of an irrelevance than ever.

You can still buy it in estate form, but you'll have to be happy with a maximum 35% company car tax banding and average fuel economy of 27.3mpg.

On the road

Apart from the new gearbox, the X-type is unchanged under the skin. That's fine because, as ever, it's good to drive. Admittedly it now feels a little outdated next to newer rivals; the 3 Series is more fun, for example, and the Mercedes C-Class strikes a better balance between comfort and control.

On the whole, however, the X-type is a good compromise. The ride is generally smooth and comfortable, even with the sports suspension that comes as standard on Sport Premium models.

Plenty of grip and fine composure mean that the X-type can hold its own on a twisty country road too, but body movement isn't as tightly controlled as with a 3 Series or C-Class, and the steering, although light, is rather short on feel.

One area where the X-type is starting to show its age is refinement. The diesel engines are quiet, but more wind and road noise reaches the cabin than with the X-type's German rivals. That said, it's still hushed enough to make it a fine long-distance cruiser.

In the cabin

The most obvious signs of ageing are in the X-type's cabin. The new finishes are an improvement and the overall impression is solid, but the design and switchgear now look distinctly dated.

The raised driving position remains a frustration, too, and although there's plenty of legroom, the saloon's headroom and boot space are tight compared with the best cars in this class.

The estate, on the other hand, remains impressively roomy.

Prices and specification

Value for money has always been central to the X-type's appeal, and in that respect it's in a stronger position than ever.

Prices haven't changed, and the 2.0 diesel saloon starts at £21,500. The thing is, you won't pay anything near that.

Our Target Price shows that you can negotiate at least 2000 off that at the showroom and much more online. Visit, for instance, and you can buy the same model for just £17,917, a saving of 3583.

Those prices need to be weighed up against resale values that are weaker than the X-type's Audi or Mercedes rivals, but you do get plenty of kit for the money.

Standard equipment on entry-level S models includes climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and part-leather upholstery.

Move up to SE or above and leather upholstery and a touch-screen satellite navigation system come as standard.