Jaguar C-X17 Concept Heralds New Era for Automaker: 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show | Edmunds

Jaguar C-X17 Concept Heralds New Era for Automaker

2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • The Jaguar C-X17, the automaker's long-awaited entry into the crossover/SUV segment, was unveiled ahead of the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.
  • Although Jaguar will not confirm any production plans, the concept shows that the British brand finally is serious about playing in this segment.
  • A production version of the C-X17 would target the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Porsche Macan.

FRANKFURT, Germany — The Jaguar C-X17, the automaker's long-awaited entry into the crossover/SUV segment, was unveiled ahead of the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Although Jaguar will not confirm any production plans, the concept shows that the British brand finally is serious about playing in this segment.

An engineering development SUV mule has recently been spotted testing near the company's engineering center in England, suggesting that a production version could appear well within the next three years.

Jaguar is also using the C-X17 to announce its new platform family, called iQ [Al].

This intelligent aluminum monocoque architecture will eventually form the basis of every new Jaguar, beginning with Jag's 2015 compact sedan, the XF replacement, the next XJ and the production version of this C-X17 crossover.

Jaguar says that this new modular, lightweight and extremely stiff architecture will provide a high level of flexibility in design, packaging and production. The company also claims that this new generation of models will make lightweight aluminum technology "more accessibly priced."

Jaguar describes the C-X17 as blending "the sleek design and sporting performance that are hallmarks of Jaguar, with the crossover benefits of an assured driving position and high levels of practicality."

The production version of C-X17 will be pitched at the segment occupied by the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and the imminent Porsche Macan, as well as Jaguar Land Rover's own Range Rover Evoque.

It will be offered with a new range of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, currently under development for manufacture at Jaguar Land Rover's new engine plant.

The gasoline V6 from the F-Type sports car will also be offered. Jaguar says that this range of engines will allow models built on the new iQ [Al] platform to offer a performance envelope ranging from top speeds of 186 mph to C02 emissions as low as 100g/km.

Jaguar Global Brand Director Adrian Hallmark believes that the combination of the new, lightweight aluminum iQ [Al] platform "will bring technology from our luxury products into a more accessible price segment, and when combined with our new ultra-efficient engines, will set a new global standard."

Although Jaguar says that the C-X17 is not confirmed for production, it admits to having carried out "very positive" market research clinics for the car in the U.K., Germany and the U.S., and that its aim with this model is "to go for a new audience." According to Global Product Marketing Director Steven De Ploey, about 90 percent of C-X17 buyers will be "younger, more active and cosmopolitan, with higher female appeal."

In concept form the C-X17 is a four-seat crossover intended to offer "refined on-road dynamics and sedan carlike handling," said Jaguar, aided by its "low height, optimized center of gravity and the use of cutting-edge dynamic technologies such as Torque Vectoring by Braking."

This system, which was pioneered by McLaren on its 1997 Formula 1 cars and is also used on its MP4-12C road car, harnesses the brakes to balance torque distribution during cornering to reduce understeer and maximize grip. Understeer is also countered by the C-X17 drivetrain's rear-axle torque bias. The C-X17's suspension is double-wishbone up front and multilink at the rear, as it will be for its new 2015 sport sedan.

According to Jaguar design boss Ian Callum, the C-X17 was, "quite a challenging design for us, in that it goes up rather than down."

By which he means that Jaguars are traditionally low cars, but this crossover has been all about adding height.

"We had two or three attempts at it to get exciting proportions," Callum said.

But Callum is happy that the contrast between the slender glasshouse and the shapely lower body achieves the excitement he was looking for.

"There's lots of barrel in the body to break up the mass," said Callum. "The lower sill (rocker) breaks it up, too. The Coke-bottle shape in the haunches emphasises sportiness, and there's a very large rear spoiler for aerodynamics and drama."

There's plenty that's recognizably Jaguar in the C-X17, too, including the XJ-derived grille design, the power bulge in the hood, the headlights and the vents in the front fenders. These are all familiar leaping-cat signatures.

The interior is more of a departure.

Rather than the familiar warm tones of honey-veneered wood and pale tan leather, the C-X17 "has no wood grain," said Callum. "There are other things to life. The cabin has a very simple architecture to let the details stand out, with simple graphics and lots of piano black."

Among the features showcased by the concept is what Jaguar's calls an Interactive Surface Console, the upper surface of the transmission tunnel offering a pair of large touchscreens for front and rear seat passengers.

These "allow the controls to be cleaned up," said Callum, "and for the seats, I wanted something lightweight, elegant and stylish seats, like the early E-Type."

The four individual buckets are upholstered in a very white leather and are striking for their laser-cut dogtooth center panel inserts.

"Dog-tooth check is a timeless fashion," said Callum.

Other cabin features include extensive mood lighting, an XF/XJ-style gear selector with concentric sliding rings, very simple blue-lit instruments and a strikingly finned panoramic roof blind.

"The interior doesn't feel like a Jag's," said Callum.

In short, the C-X17 is about some risks for the automaker.

"The C-X17 is about clarity and high impact, but not aggressiveness," said Callum. "It was a big challenge to get the big picture right, but I'm very happy with it. I'd drive it, and I'm a sports car man."

Edmunds says: Jaguar badly needs this crossover and the impressive platform strategy that underpins it. It's a shame the C-X17 isn't going on sale next year, though, like the competing Porsche Macan.

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