Jaguar is promising “breakthrough” design and engineering for a proposed new crossover. If it’s signed off for production, it could go on sale around 2016 to crown a radical overhaul of its complete model range.

Speaking bullishly at the Geneva motor show, Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark confirmed that the British marque was responding to Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth’s wish to “drive breakthroughs in product development”.

Sister firm Land Rover is enjoying unprecedented success with niche-busting products such as the Range Rover Evoque, and Jaguar has been given full licence to break away from its traditional roots to launch some innovative new models, following the announcement by parent firm Tata that it is doubling annual investment in the pair to £1.5 billion.

New model blitz

The new crossover will be preceded by production versions of the C-X16 and C-X75 sports cars and Jaguar’s new BMW 3-series rivalling compact saloon, tentatively due in 2015.

But first, over the next two years, Jaguar plans to launch six other significant new products - either facelifts, new powertrains or new models. “You get your image right first and then put the right engines in the current cars,” said Hallmark. “That’s the best way for us to go over the next two years. Then we can enhance our image further with the sports cars and look at how we can further accelerate our growth with new products.”

Insiders say the focus of Jaguar’s long-term development is the compact saloon. The go-ahead for it from Tata in the near future is a strong possibility.

The crossover, meanwhile, is described by Hallmark as “not the top priority, and not the last either”. Its production chances are believed to be about 50/50, but such a car would fuel Jaguar’s growth in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Hallmark said: “It would give us more geographical growth.”

Three options open

Jaguar could attack the SUV market in a number of ways. Making it a variant of the compact saloon is the most intriguing option, and also perhaps the most feasible. This saloon is likely to be an all-aluminium model, emphasising technology in a market defined by relatively conventional steel cars.

On the 3-series rival, Hallmark said Jaguar “can offer a different proposition that costs more but is worth the extra outlay”.

An all-aluminium SUV spin-off model would be another way of giving Jaguar the uniqueness it needs to define itself against Audi, BMW and Mercedes rivals.

This platform is believed to be a modified and shortened version of the new modular aluminium ‘Premium Lightweight Architecture’ that JLR has developed to underpin its future larger models, including the imminent new Range Rover and, in the longer term, the next-generation XF and XJ saloons. Using the compact saloon as a base for the Jaguar crossover will also allow low-slung proportions.

A second option is forJaguar to leverage the Range Rover Evoque platform and build a compact, fuel-efficient, crossover. A front-wheel-drive crossover is likely to be considered more acceptable than a Jaguar saloon with the same layout. Such a model would also help to reduce Jaguar’s corporate average fuel economy figures.

One less likely alternative is a move upmarket, with a full-size SUV based on the upcoming 4x4 transmission being planned for the XF and XJ. But an SUV based on the XF’s steel architecture is unlikely because the XF’s life will be drawing to a close as the new SUV is due to arrive.

“We have full kit in the group to do what we want to do,” said Hallmark. “We dominate the SUV segment [with Land Rover] and we have an iconic SUV, so we don’t need it as Jaguar Land Rover, the company. But as Jaguar, we need to do something.”

Whatever base is chosen, the design will borrow heavily on the crisper lines and more aggressive flourishes from the C-X16 sports car and it will sport a radical body.