A new sporting crossover from Jaguar will hit the market after the company’s new BMW 3 Series rival reaches the showrooms in 2015.
Jaguar has confirmed that it is going head-to-head with the Audi Q3/Q5 and BMW X1/X3 with its sporting crossover, which has been revealed in concept form at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Jaguar’s production version of the C-X17 will be based on all-aluminium underpinnings, which will also be used by the much talked-about new small Jaguar saloon, coupe and estate cars, which it follows on to the market.
Jaguar is decribing the C-X17 as a design study to introduce Jaguar’s new highly advanced aluminium monocoque architecture, named iQ[Al]. Technically, this is a bold step as the underpinnings will form the basis for the all-new range of vehicles to slot in beneath the XF and take on Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz at their own game. The lightweight modular aluminium architecture that underpins the C-X17 will translate into high levels of performance and efficiency.
However, the most arresting element of this concept is its styling, which has been penned in the UK and overseen by Design Director, Ian Callum. He admitted that for a long time he felt uncomfortable about doing it.
‘At Jaguar we are used to designing low cars and this is the exact opposite,’ Callum said. ‘I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea, although there were a lot of people within the company who did. But it is what a whole generation wants, especially in places like China. During the development of the F-Type the information came back that their idea of a performance car is one of these.’
The biggest challenge in creating an SUV faithful to Jaguar’s heritage was in getting the proportions right, says Callum. ‘A lot of that was caused by the position of the cabin and the requirement to mount the engine north-south,’ he added. ‘It has been designed to take engines up to a V6, although I’m sure we could get a V8 in. We had two or three attempts before we got it right, and even went as far as building clay models. It’s something we solved by working millimetre by millimetre.’
The most extreme part of the car, Callum said, is the four-seat interior. It has been made as simple as possible, with the minimum of buttons and switches, but features exotic instruments and graphics, dog tooth-patterned leather, minimalist seats, lots of piano black, slatted headlining beneath a glass roof and touch-screen technology front and rear.
The grille and headlamps are similar to those on the XF and XJ saloons. ‘We’ll continue with them,’ said Callum. There is a typical Jaguar power bulge in the bonnet, slim side windows, Coke-bottle rear haunches influenced by the F-Type, horizontal rear light units, barreled sides to reduce the impression of bulk and a dramatically profiled roofline.
The C-X17 is longer than the Range Rover Evoque but shorter than traditional saloons, such as the Ford Mondeo, at 4718mm. It’s as high as established 4×4 rivals, but still manages to feature elegant styling that combones elements of the XF and the F-Type. Inside, the C-X17 features advanced interior technologies including Interactive Surface Console – a multi-screen infotainment network that links passengers with each other and the outside world through social media channels.
Power will be provided by a range of four-cylinder engines, known as the Hotfire, which will be made at Jaguar’s new engine factory near Wolverhampton. The new V6 found under the bonnet of the F-Type will also be used in the new baby Jaguars. The new saloons will be the first vehicle to be equipped with all-new four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines, allowing Jaguar to break the 100g/km barrier for the first time.
The C-X17 marks the beginning of Jaguar’s expansion into new markets and forms the centrepiece of a new range of medium-sized cars that will slot in beneath the XF. The lightweight aluminium ‘sports crossover’ – that’s how Jaguar refers to the C-X17 – will enter the highly profitable SUV sector and, hopefully, not steal too many sales from the Evoque. Currently, Jaguar sells around 100,000 cars per year – and, once the saloons, estate and SUV are online, this is anticipated to top 250,000.
Jaguar’s first car based on the iQ[Al] structure will underpin the long-awaited Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series rival, which Jaguar confirms is due in 2015. The new range of Jaguars will be exclusively made from aluminium, a class first. It’s a good looking car and Ian Callum sums up by saying, ‘We designed the C-X17 from the ground up from a distinct set of principles, a deep sense of what makes a Jaguar: exciting proportions, clean lines, balance of form.’
The C-X17 has taken its fair share of limelight at Frankfurt and for good reason. ‘This car has proper ergonomic packaging,’ said Callum. ‘It’s a concept car, but it’s a driveable concept. It’s one bookend of what we could do with our new architecture and it shows the flexibility in proportions it gives us.’
The C-X17 Concept appears to have been created with production possibilities in mind and it is hard to imagine that buyers in many parts of the world would turn down the chance to own an SUV from what is currently the fastest-growing premium brand in the world. Jaguar’s global sales from January to July rose by 33% compared with the same period of 2012 and were up by 65% in July.