Jaguar's C-X17 SUV concept has made its world debut at the Frankfurt motor show.
The model marks the start of the most ambitious model expansion programme in Jaguar's 91-year history. According to insiders, the ‘sports crossover’ concept previews an upcoming new SUV that will become part of a range of other new compact Jaguars.
It also announces an all-new, lightweight and extremely stiff aluminium monocoque architecture, which Jaguar bosses say “will underpin the entire innovative future of the Jaguar brand”.
The new architecture, whose title iQ[Al] stands for ‘intelligent aluminium architecture’, will form the basis of an entirely new generation of compact Jaguars (but not Land Rovers) over the next few years. Jaguar bosses say it is both modular and scalable and enables flexible, high-volume production that can produce competitive interior packaging and allows a great deal of design freedom.
When questioned on how closely the C-X17 previews the new range of compact Jaguars, design boss Ian Callum insisted the sleek and spectacular-looking SUV show car is “only a concept”, adding it merely shows what “one book-end” of the new range could be like. But he also believes modern design departments shouldn’t propose cars that could never be built, hinting that the C-X17 concept is close to reality in that sense.
Callum also said he believes the 2007 C-XF concept, the Los Angeles show car that previewed the production XF models, was too far from reality. From this it can be concluded that the C-X17, shorn of its rear bodywork and about 20-30cm of wheelbase, provides a general guide to the look and proportions of the new range of compact Jaguars, and more specifically the SUV that will become part of it.
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.