If you want to attack some muddy trails or hit the green lanes without worrying about your paintwork, you have a couple of options. Either buy a Land Rover Defender (if money allows) or go the budget route like I did and buy something cheap and cheerful with good off-road credentials; my £800 Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin or a Suzuki Jimny are great mud-pluggers.
Then again, you could make life really difficult for yourself by buying a car so far removed from off-roading that it’s not actually been done before. And that’s why I’ve bought a 191hp Jaguar X-Type 2.5 V6 AWD…
I’m not going to ruin the surprise too much about what we have planned for the car. For those of you wondering, no, I’m not ripping the V6 out to give to Phil, my MX-5. Transforming this AWD luxury saloon into something pretty capable off road is well within the realms of possibility; we’ve had a look underneath and have already drawn up plans.
What I can tell you so far is how damn nice the car is. Despite 186k miles and non-existent suspension bushes, the Jag is buttery smooth, torquey and super relaxing to drive. It is, I think, my greatest purchase to date, and also one of the cheapest, costing just £490.
It’s got electric leather seats, a trip computer, a touch screen and a five-speed manual gearbox. It’s also spacious, has a wooden dash and looks smart from any angle.
Now anyone who knows about the shady history of Jaguar will know that the X-Type was based on a modified version of the Ford CD132 platform, aka the Mondeo. It’s because of this that most people instantly turn their noses up at the junior Jaguar, but because I, and you, are not most people, you’ll believe me when I say that the X-Type is an unappreciated hero.
Not that it really matters, of course. This is going to be transformed into an off-roader, so it could drive like a bag of nails on the road for all I care, except that it really doesn’t. It sounds OK, too, although to really unleash the V6’s potential, the cats and silencers would need to be removed (…which gives me a great idea).
Anyway, that’s a little intro to the new project car. Work to make it love mud will commence in January and we’ll be taking you along for the ride!
If you have any questions or suggestions, fire away!