Last night, Jaguar revealed the all-new C-X17 SUV concept, but before you whip your cheque books out and rush down to your Jaguar dealer, there are a few things you should know.
First things first, the C-X17 exists to serve two purposes – introduce Jaguar’s iQ[Al] aluminium monocoque architecture and demonstrate the design potential of a platform which could serve anything from a sports car to an SUV.
iQ[Al], like Aston Martin’s VH architecture is a set of concepts, rules and ultimately physical parts for assembling a multitude of lightweight cars with the maximum design flexibility. Don’t make the mistake of calling it a platform, although there are elements within (such as sub frames, suspension units, engines and gearboxes) which will be interchangeable between models.
The first model to be launched with this architecture will be a mid-size C/D segment saloon taking on BMW’s 3 Series, scheduled to go on sale in 2015. By implication that means any production version of the C-X17 would not see the floor of a Jaguar showroom until 2016 at the earliest.
The second point worth considering is the concept car’s size and layout. It’s a four seat SUV, just like BMW’s X6 originally was, but customer demand forced BMW to upgrade the X6 with a 3-seat bench in the rear, which is something Jaguar will presumably take heed of.
Likewise Jaguar will probably revisit the C-X17’s size should it reach production.
At 4,718mm long and 1,649mm tall, it’s closer in size to an X3 (7cm shorter, 2.6cm higher) than an X6 (16cm longer, 5cm higher) or Porsche Cayenne (13cm longer, 6cm higher), so I suspect any production C-X17 will be larger (because that’s what customers choose in this sector) and therefore perhaps less muscular in style.
Of course Jaguar could just prove us wrong – as with the F-TYPE – and produce a car which is considerably less practical than the competition, but that’s a much bigger risk with an SUV. Jaguar will therefore need to decide if they’re targeting the Porsche Macan and BMW X4, or Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6 and given the former two will only reach the market in 2014, Jaguar might choose to wait and see how buyers respond to a mid-size premium coupé SUV.
Jaguar’s iQ[Al] architecture will include a new range of four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines, allowing Jaguar to break the 100g CO2/km barrier for the first time. These will be joined in its 3 Series competitor by the new V6 petrol engines which were introduced in the F-TYPE.
Jaguar describe the C-X17 as a ‘sports crossover’ concept, further distancing it from the more-rugged Range Rover Sport. They also talk a lot about its ‘car-like driving dynamics’ and ‘agility on fast twisty roads’ which emphasises its on-road bias and role as a driver’s car.
The C-X17 has a ground clearance of 213mm and uses Jaguar’s intelligent all-wheel drive system which predominantly delivers drive to the rear wheels.
It features a torque vectoring system (by braking) which constantly monitors the vehicle’s cornering dynamics and distributes engine torque to the rear wheels by gently applying the brakes. The net effect is less understeer, more cornering grip and more agility than a regular SUV.
It sits on 23-inch alloy wheels featuring a one-off five-spoke design, with gloss black trim contrasting with its Caesium Blue paint finish. Jaguar’s J-shaped running lights and frosted-glass foglights underline the C-17’s powerful, planted stance while its pronounced rear haunch is inspired by the F-TYPE.
Inside there are four individual bucket seats, covered with Jet saddle and Orchid Connolly leather, with a unique ‘sculpted’ panoramic roof running from front to rear.
It’s a powerful illustration of the new architecture’s potential, but as I said at the top of this article, don’t expect a production version to be on sale for quite some years to come.