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2003 Entry Level Luxury Buyer's Guide
by Steve Siler

Jaguar X-Type
2003 Jaguar X-Type

Jaguar, perhaps more than any other brand, is known for power, sensuality and beauty. Jaguar has proven over time that cars can be more than appliances, but objects of true sensory stimulation. For as long as most of us have been alive, then, Jaguars have existed not just on the streets, but in our dreams.

Now, the idea of a Jaguar costing just $30,000-resplendent with wood, leather and loin-stirring Jaguar styling-may also seem like something right out of our dreams, but that's exactly what the X-Type is. From the quad headlights to its tapered tush, the X-Type bears a striking resemblance to Jaguar's flagship XJ sedan. Optional 17-inch wheels add even more visual punch to this sexy, sexy design.

The interior of the X-Type is intimate (read; snug) in typical Jaguar fashion, but it also features an arrangement of leather and wood that you just can't get anywhere else. Its aggressively bolstered front seats hold you squarely in place no matter how swiftly you carve through the curves. Climate control, heated mirrors, and a tilting/telescoping steering wheel are all standard, but strangely, a CD player is not. Other extras include a navigation system, an Alpine sound system, and option packages that include a moonroof, parking assist and other niceties.

The X-Type holds an unexpected trump card that no other car in this group has: standard all-wheel drive. Power comes from a 2.5-liter V-6 (194 hp), or a 3.0-liter V-6 (231 hp). The 3.0-liter brings with it an automatic transmission (a manual is a no-cost option), but the upgrade will cost you about six grand-a lot of money for 37 ponies. Still, the performance of the 3.0-liter is terrific, even better with in Sport array (with 17-inch wheels, stability control and a sport suspension). And after all, aren't Jaguar's known for performance?

So sure, there better values out there. But none of them have that prestigious leaping cat on the hood. And that's worth something right there.