Its typically Jaguar, and boasts that sleek, low aggressive look- a low front end, which is accentuated by a sleek grille, elliptical quad headlights, with flashings of chrome to further accentuate its good looks and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The side profile is sporty, thanks to the typically wedge shape Jag's designers so love, as do buyers, while the rear's overall width tapers inward slightly, which lend it that feline muscular look similar to that conveyed by the XK series sports car.
The chassis is super stiff, and employs high strength steel in critical areas such as the front longitudinals, suspension mountings bumper mounting points and door intrusion beams. Doors have been triple sealed for quietness and safety, while the one-piece colour coded bumpers can resist minor knocks up to speeds of 8km/h.
The front bumper also has intakes for the brakes, while cool air is also fed to the motor to enhance performance. The bumpers also contain the sensor for the park distance control.
The front lights can be levelled manually according to the load carried, while the clear, multi-jewelled lenses both at the front and rear distinguish the newcomer from its predecessors. Wipers are of the manual variety and offer two speeds as well as an intermittent function.
The interior of the 2.0 variant is typically Jaguar- spacious with that airy feel, very opulent and simply, very classy, while legroom front and rear is abundant.
The X-type 2.0-litre arrives in "SE" spec only, which is Jaguar's luxury specification, and the CD/Radio unit is no expectation to the rule. It boasts ten speakers all round, which insures that passengers are kept entertained at the highest level, while a 6-cd changer is available as an option.
The unit is controlled by the well spaced button on the dash, or via the rotary action controls to the left of the steering wheel.
The aerial is mounted in the rear windscreen, while the automatic volume control increases sound levels as higher speeds are attained.
The fully automatic air conditioner with climate control and pollen filter adds further comfort, especially in longer trips.
Our brief outing starting on Kwa-Zulu Natal's North coast, with its rather humid conditions soon became a trip fit for a queen as the unit nullified the rather moist, clammy air, and delivered us from our round trip feeling fresher than daisies.
Pure Sapele wood inlays make a refreshing change from the "ersatz" versions commonly found on other products, and with leather all round, evoke a sense of aristocracy to the highest levels. Even the indicator unit's noise is distinctive, with that quaint, lop-sided uneven interval pattern.
For safety the front seats incorporate side airbags for thoracic protection, while front and side passenger airbags provide additional protection as do the curtain airbags. Seat belts are load limiting and pre-tensioning up front, while the brake pedal is self collapsing in severe impacts.
The steering wheel is also rake and reach adjustable, while a sliding front arm rest accommodates any shape/size driver.
The boot is a massive 452 litres, which can be expanded thanks to a rear seat split of 30/70 ratio, and which can be ordered at no cost at purchase, while windows are all electric with anti trap mechanisms.
The spare wheels is of the spare wheel variety, which may well be all and good in suburbia, but on longer sections of national roads, may prove to be a little tedious to some. A full size version is available as an option.
Under the skin
It's under the bonnet that curiosity won't kill cat lovers, and the silky smooth 24-valve V6 emits a quiet purr once started.
The 60-degree unit is of 2099cc capacity, and sports four chain-drive camshafts and 24-valves enabling to suck air into its six chambers rapidly. It produces a lively 117 kW at a rather high 6 800 r/min, while torque is claimed 200 Nm, made at 4 100 r/min.
Variable cam timing and variable intake geometry provides for very smooth power delivery, which as mentioned earlier, is fed to the front wheels via a five speed manual gearbox or auto for the more discerning.
The auto can be overridden in typical "J" pattern movement, allowing drivers to select gears manually when desired.
Dynamic Stability Control is standard on all models, while the shift pattern on the manual version is of the "H" pattern variety. A steering wheel controlled cruise control system to keep speed in check is also standard.
The engine is super quiet on idle, and driving at sedate speeds around suburbia illicit a quietish purr from the mill upfront. But like any cat when provoked, or in this case, when the throttle is buried into the thick carpeting underfoot, that purr turns into a pleasant growl, warning all of its potential speed and agility to follow.
Even though the cars had a little more than 1 000km on the clocks at launch, the manual version allowed us to change and find the five cogs with ease, and there's a nice direct feel from the cable driven linkage.
But its in the twisties that the cat is at home, and corners are dispatched at any speed desired, without so much of a hint of sideways travel.
The steering is very predictive without being over sensitive, and is pleasantly speed sensitive. It's confidence with a capital "C' when describing its road holding capabilities, and even bumps found in mid-corner are negated and corrected with comparative ease.
Its super smooth too, and only largish traffic calming humps make any impact on the suspension, which consists of twin tube McPherson struts up front and a torsion control link rear suspension.
Typically Jaguar, rattles, suspension noise or any form of other noise is non existent, although in the hilly bits, a fair amount of cog swapping is required if you intend maintaining high average speeds.
If you do need to arrest speed in a hurry, ventilated discs up front and solid discs at the rear, all coupled to ABS and EBD make light work of bringing the nearly 1,5 tonne kitty to rest, and brake feels was very progressive all the way down to the bottom.
Jaguar claims of 9.4 seconds for the manual and 10.8 seconds for the auto in the 100 km/h dash seems realistic enough, while the top speeds of 210 km/h and 205 km/h for same seem accurate too.
Top speeds are a claimed 210 km/h for the manual and 205 km/h for the auto, while consumption is claimed at a rather conservative 9.2 litres and 10 litres of unleaded for each 100km travelled, although enthusiastic during launch saw those figures scream through the 14 litres barrier with ease.
Jaguar's foray into the lower end of the market is a clever one- for starters, the R265 000 price tag for the manual, and R275 000 for the auto, is bound to attract a much younger buyer, and for the first time, its sophistication and class can be obtained sub-R300k.
The marque seems intent in remaining in the "exclusive" market rather than the mass market, and given the luxury and sheer class afforded to buyers, is bound to attract many new customers, which it hopes to retain and encourage to "buy up" as salaries increase.
The cars come with a 3 year/100 000 km warranty, while a 5 year/100 000 km maintenance plan, probably one of the longest on the market, is standard too, which make the kitten a very attractive option.
It typically competes against Audi's A4 Executive at R232 000, BMW's 320i at R246 000, Mercedes' C200K at R266 000, Volvo's S40 at R227 000 and Peugeot's 407 ST at R240 990.