Jaguar has a problem. The fact is both UK and European sales are booming but the important US market recently took a downturn.
It's not that the cars aren't appealing enough but the strength of sterling over the dollar has made the classic British marque look less attractive to Americans.
And the arrival of the new XJ diesel this summer won't make much difference either. It seems a struggling US economy has really dented Jaguar sales, down 16 per cent during 2004 in America.
So what can Jaguar do to keep their market buoyant? Well, they can introduce more derv motors for European consumption. The diesel versions of the S-Type and X-Type saloon are doing well this side of the Pond, while the X-Type estate is a viable alternative to offerings from BMW and Audi.
Traditional Jaguar customers may still be reeling from the shock of seeing a Jag with a huge luggage area on the back, but the truth is that Jaguar could no longer continue to exclude itself from the load-lugging market.
While overall sales of upper medium B-segment - Mondeo sized to you and me - estate cars has fallen over the past three years, the market for premium models, such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes, has continued to rise. So if Jaguar wanted the X-Type to compete equally in the sector, then it needed an estate. It made its debut at the 2003 Frankfurt Show and appeared on UK roads in Spring 2004.
At present, it comes with just one diesel engine. Since the X-Type shares its underpinnings with the Ford Mondeo, it comes as no surprise that the engine is also Mondeo based.
Demonstrating the parlous state of Ford's diesel policy in the late 1990s, the Jaguar doesn't use the latest 136bhp 2.0-litre diesel, jointly developed by Ford and PSA. Instead it uses Ford's Duratorq 2.0-litre engine, modified by Jaguar's own engineers. Apart from the Mondeo and the X-Type, the only other model using this engine is the Transit van!
The good news is a 2.2-litre diesel version will arrive this summer to give the Jag more of a fighting chance again the German opposition. The current X-Type 2.0D gets 128bhp at 3,800rpm, while generating a healthy 244lbft of torque at 1,800rpm.
Audi dominates this estate market with the A4 Avant and its expected best seller is the 140bhp 2.0 TDI, not forgetting three more diesels from the 115bhp 1.9 TDI to the two V6 engines - 163bhp 2.5-litre and 204bhp 3.0-litre.
Although the front half of the X-Type is much the same, there's a new roof panel, re-worked rear doors, side panels and a new rear end. Overall, the estate looks good with sporty lines and despite the curving rear, still manages to pack in one of the larger load areas in its class.
X-Type estates are available in three trim options Classic, SE and Sport. Prices start from ¯¿½21,165 for the Classic diesel, ¯¿½23,420 for the Sport and ¯¿½24,065 for the SE model. Standard equipment includes occupant sensing restraint systems with driver and passenger front and side airbags and curtain airbags.
One of the other Mondeo attributes that the X-Type diesel benefits from is the torque overboost facility which gives a short burst of 258lbft when you floor the pedal, to assist overtaking. So even though the Jag lacks power compared with its rivals on paper, the wallop of extra torque means that it can pump up even more than its 150bhp rivals.
The X-Type diesel is a fine handling car and feels no more like a load carrier than any other modern estate worth its salt. It's also just as good looking as an estate as a saloon. At the same time it's a practical car with a large boot and lots of family-friendly safety features.