Speaking at the launch 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 C-X17 was born out of a distinct set of principles: a deep sense of what makes a Jaguar. It's unmistakably inspired by the F-type, but also designed to launch an entirely new wave of Jaguars. For me, successful design is like a story, full of strong characters and great imagination. A story that can take us on a journey where wonderful experiences can be had."
The most striking thing about the C-X17 is how it translates some of the most fundamental and striking styling features of the F-type sports car — which have rapidly become core Jaguar properties — on to a 4.72m-long SUV.
“Getting the proportions to work was far from easy at first,” said Callum. “In fact, we found the initial results quite difficult and disappointing. It was a matter of continuing to work hard on the small things. In circumstances like these, changing things by a couple of millimetres can make a huge difference.”
The C-X17 is a relatively long car for its ‘compact’ billing, fully 40cm longer than a Range Rover Evoque but, at 1.65m tall, no higher. This gives it an arresting sleekness (“If you want form, it takes space,” said Callum), while the radical 23-inch wheels help to accentuate the sporty side, as do the strongly raked screens front and rear, plus head and tail-lights reminiscent of those used on the F-type.
There are muscular haunches and classic Jaguar bonnet lines which feature twin ‘power bulges’ that converge as they run forward towards the grille. This even more powerful iteration of the F-type’s three-dimensional shape is flanked lower down by a pair of large supplementary air intakes. These features all integrate into a graceful shape that is recognisably Jaguar.
The firm is at pains to point out that while this is a sports crossover that rides higher than a saloon, it is lower and lighter than most vehicles of its type. Additionally, systems such as brake-based torque vectoring and an intelligent all-wheel drive system (based on the standard car’s front engine/rear drive layout) give it top-class dynamics.
The C-X17’s interior majors heavily on luxury, but with a simple execution. In a deliberate move away from what Callum refers to as “preconceptions”, there is leather trim but no wood. The concept seats four occupants in light, simply designed bucket seats that hint at the uncomplicated design of the E-type’s half a century ago, and which are covered in saddle leather in a small dog-tooth pattern. Jaguar claims “an assured driving position” set at “a low height”, likely to be similar to that of an Evoque.
The piano black console that runs right through the cabin can become a touchscreen, and the door inners have a high-contrast black and white finish, while above the occupants is a panoramic roof featuring a translucent multi-bladed sunscreen, a bit like an egg slicer, that can vary the flow of light into the cabin. The graceful quality of the interior is carried right through the cabin to the boot, which has two so-called ‘leisure seats’ that fold out to provide comfort for a pair of picnickers.
Jaguar’s first production offshoot of its new family underpinned by the iQ[Al] structure will be a pioneering C/D-segment saloon, due in 2015 and aimed squarely at the Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-class models that currently dominate the sector. The new saloon will be built in a huge factory currently under construction at JLR’s Solihull plant, already its centre of excellence for aluminium manufacturing but previously exclusively used for Land Rovers.