Jaguar’s upcoming SUV has started track testing, as these spy shots from Germany’s Nürburgring show. Seen on the asphalt for the first time after months of winter testing, the Jaguar is clearly a relatively large vehicle. 

The SUV is based on a slightly smaller version of the aluminium monocoque used for the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Around 4.6m long, it’s expected that this architecture will also be used for the new mid-range Discovery family model and for a future Range Rover variant that will slot in between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport.

Jaguar is understood to be placing a performance emphasis on its SUV, exploiting its natively rear-drive layout. It is likely to be benchmarked against the Porsche Macan, which is regarded as the best-handling current SUV. 

The Jaguar will have a number of advantages over the Porsche, not least that it has the engine mounted well back in the engine bay, so a 50/50 weight distribution is likely.

Dubbed internally as a ‘sports crossover’, the SUV will be the second model in the biggest new-model offensive in Jaguar’s history. It’s a product programme that has to boost Jaguar’s annual sales well into six figures and - in the medium term - well beyond 200,000 units annually. 

Last year the company’s global marketing director, Steven de Ploey, said: “We aim to attract younger, more cosmopolitan buyers with active lifestyles. We’re hoping that will include more women buyers and more customers with young families.” He also told Autocar that he thinks 90 per cent of customers will be new to the Jaguar brand.

When the original C-X17 concept car was first shown at the Los Angeles show last November, Jaguar chief designer Ian Callum said: “It’s an innovative sports crossover - one that uniquely combines our exciting sports car heritage with flexibility, usability and space. 

“It is a Jaguar, but in a completely different form. It demonstrates our desire to push the boundaries of technology, performance and, of course, design.”

The production car is powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s range of home-grown Ingenium four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, a range that promises to be flexible enough to offer CO2 emissions of as low as 99g/km in the firm's upcoming XE and a top speed as high as 186mph in petrol form when hooked up to twin turbochargers. 

It’s not yet known whether the SUV will be offered in pure rear-wheel drive form, but that’s a distinct possibility for the lower-powered models, not least because it would benefit fuel economy.