A Longer Read – Trompe le Mondeo

The latest in our repackaged series is this, a meditation, first published in 2014 upon Jaguar’s pariah-status executive class cross-breed. 

Image credit: (c) dieselstation

Worst Jaguar ever. A reskinned Mondeo. Brand-killer. Just some of the vitriol hurled at the Jaguar X-Type over the years.

Of all the Ford-financed cars to bear the storied leaping cat, the X-Type was perhaps the most (retrospectively) vilified, and while my personal ambivalence for the car remains undimmed, to dismiss it as simply a Mondeo clone I would contend, simply panders to lowest common-denominator motor journalism.

Perhaps the closest approximation to the X-Type in conceptual terms was that of the 1972 Lancia Beta. While sharing judicious use of parts-bin componentry, the vast majority of both cars was bespoke; both Fiat and in this case, Ford going to a good deal of trouble and massive expense to ensure the end product met brand-expectations.

That both models gained troubled reputations is both ironic yet similarly irrelevant. Both deserve a more nuanced appraisal than the knee-jerk dismissals so carelessly flung like wet rags at their sullied nameplates.

Hence today’s long-form reissue, which you can, if you choose, read here. It may not quite be the forensic examination the car deserves (failures being so more interesting a subject than successes), but perhaps goes some way to doing the car justice.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

11 thoughts on “A Longer Read – Trompe le Mondeo”

  1. If there was ever a car made to be an estate first and saloon second, this was the one. In estate guise it had a unique aura of being the one and only car for people who wanted to be in Cortina d’Ampezzo skiing on Saturday morning and back in Brussels on Monday. It seemed to be have been designed with a medium-sized Cotswolds house and estate as a background. With its wood and hide interior and elegantly Britishly brash chrome, the X-type deserved a much better response than it got. Britain puzzles me with its bipolar loathing of trad and over-confident Brexity ambition. Both traps fell English judgement: in this case, a decent car in the mould of Jaguars past was mauled and crushed like an unwanted chick in one of those live-chick mashing machines they have in battery-hen farms.
    And the saloon wasn´t bad either. I can´t vouch for its US ablilities, otherwise good cars seem to wilt there. For Europe, the X-Type was a plausible car and a genuine alternative to BMW, Audi and Mercedes not to mention the Mondeo or Vectra.

  2. The “Mondeo in drag” jibe frequently aimed at the X-Type might have amused (and deterred) some of the more knowledgeable potential buyers, but I think the real problem, shared with the X350 series XJ, was its retro styling, which was the very antithesis of the aggressively “sporting” styling tropes offered by its German premium competitors. That said, at least it offered something distinctive and different unlike the terminally bland XE, which looks like a weak facsimile of its competitors.

  3. Am i right to think that the X-type was one of the first cars whose long term reliability suffered from “sealed for life” drivetrain components?

  4. The X-type’s press kit made much of the fact that they’d moved a rear suspension pick up point a couple of millimetres compared to the Mondeo and that therefore the X was a completely different car. To my eyes, there should be a bit more of a difference to make the X a car of its own instead of a Mondeo in drag. The comparison to the Lancia beta is unfair because there was no Fiat that had anything in common with the beta except its Lampredi engine and even that was heavily reworked to make it suitable for transverse fitment. Just the opposite of the X that shared nearly everything with the Mondeo except for the visible body panels.

  5. The X-type actually had a shortened version of the Mondeo platform. The reason being that the wheelbase would have been greater than the S-type if not.

    1. If it’s true that the X-type used no more than 17 percent of Mondeo (number of parts, value, volume?) then this were exactly the parts they should heve thrown away, avove all the unashamedly Mondeo-derived transverse drivetrain. If you intend to attack BMW head on you better make sure you got the right product and not something as half baked as the X. Ask Audi about the necessary effort and expense.
      If you intend to sell the XE you’d better make sure it’s competitive in quality terms, particularly at the eye watering price levels…

  6. In real life, no one *actually* cared about the X-type’s “Mondeo” roots, aside from a few auto journalists. The X-type actually drove really sharp. Honda has been selling JDM and European variants of their sedans in the US as luxury cars for years, and no-one seems to make a fuss.

    The problem with the X-type was that it was expensive, and kind of unreliable. The US really values their Automatic transmissions, and the X-types was known for having issues. Plus, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes offered more attractive lease deals and financing, with arguably less pretentious and dated design.

    1. There’s an enormous difference in market expectations and perception between the US and mainland Europe. That’s why Lexus and Infinity are non-starters and why Acura isn’t even on offer in Europe. In BMW/Mercedes/Audi’s backyard the X-type’s Mondeo roots were one of the millstones around its neck, the other was its styling where XJ S3 references didn’t work on a car too short and too tall for them.

  7. I think it is safe to say that the X-Type outsold the XE if one looks at peak sales years (?). I was/ am not a fan, and turned down the chance to have a 3.0L AWD version and went for the Legacy Spec-B instead, saving myself several £,000s in the process. The proportions of the front overhang relative to the wheelbase and rear overhang were troublesome as well as the overly twee detailing.

    I think the XE is aging quite well, but I still see too many even later cars with misaligned panels.

    1. Our Jaguar (and LR plus Aston Martin) importer is down the road from where I live and I’m yet to see an XE there where the bootlid and the two-piece rear lights are properly aligned at the same time. The pressings seem to bave enormous tolerances that make them difficult to fit accurately. The general lack of quality in combination with over ambitious pricing prevented me from buying an XE which I’d really wanted to like.

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