The most radical new Jaguar for decades has been given the green light for production in 2016, Autocar can reveal. 

Company insiders say the new model could become “Jaguar’s Evoque” — both changing perceptions of the brand and selling in substantial volumes. It is expected to be priced to rival the BMW X3, starting at £31,000 for an entry-level rear-wheel-drive version.

First exposed by Autocar in March 2012, the Jaguar crossover concept has been in development for over two years already. It’s thought that Jaguar could unveil a teaser concept as early as this September’s Frankfurt show.

Sources who have seen the new car at customer clinics held in the Midlands have described the crossover as “stunning”. One source — a current XF owner — told Autocar that the styling proposal was “unlike anything that Jaguar had done before” and “easily the best-looking vehicle in the room”. The line-up at the clinic included the current Infiniti FX and Porsche Cayenne, although both are bigger than Jaguar’s crossover. It’s thought that the coupé-like FX has been something of a stylistic influence for the new Jaguar.

The new crossover will provide Jaguar with a direct rival for Porsche’s upcoming Macan SUV, which is similar in size and is also defined by its dramatic styling. 

The Jaguar will be a conventional five-door hatchback and aimed at younger, more affluent families. As one source noted: “You rarely see one of today’s Jaguar models with a child seat in the back. The crossover will tap into that market.” 

The crossover — possibly badged XQ — will be a sister car to Jaguar’s BMW 3-series competitor and will be based on the same new aluminium platform. Insiders say the production car will be much more of a sporting crossover than a full-on SUV.

Like the small saloon, the crossover will be natively rear-wheel drive but will also have the option of all-wheel drive. Both cars are based on the smaller version of the Premium Lightweight Architecture that underpins the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

Whereas the large PLA platform underpins models five metres long and more, the compact PLA architecture should cover new models between 4.4 and 4.9 metres in length, as well as being slightly narrower than the bigger platform. 

The compact PLA is understood to underpin the two entry-level Jaguars and the next-generation XF. Jaguar hopes the crossover will be the lightest model in its class. Combined with Jaguar Land Rover’s all-new four-cylinder ‘Hotfire’ engines, that should enable it to achieve some of the lowest CO2 ratings in its class.

A wide range of petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines will be offered. Higher-spec V6 petrol and diesel versions will also feature in the line-up.

Sources say the compact  saloon and crossover will be built at Land Rover’s Solihull plant, rather than at Castle Bromwich. Solihull has been converted to the PLA production line, which differs from the line used to build the XJ at Castle Bromwich.

It’s expected that the Castle Bromwich site — which is a sixth of the size of Solihull — will be converted to the PLA production line as the new-generation XJ and XF models are launched mid-decade.

Company sources also say the arrival of the compact saloon and the crossover will mark a concerted push by Jaguar to emphasise its currently class-leading use of all-aluminium structures.

Although the first all-aluminium Jaguar production car — the XJ ‘X350’ — was launched in 2003, the company has not made great play of its bonded and riveted aerospace construction techniques. 

With Audi about to launch its new mixed-materials MLB platform, Jaguar sources say the company needs to communicate its own advanced technology to new car buyers.

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