Jaguar's first-ever crossover, the C-X17 concept bowing at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, is really a preview of future sedans. The cesium blue show car rides on a brand-new aluminum chassis that Jaguar will use to build a mid-size sport sedan in two years’ time (it will go on sale in the U.S. a year later, in 2016). For now, the C-X17 crossover hints at the styling and performance direction of all future Jaguar models.
The crossover’s nose draws directly from the Jaguar XF sedan, its stubby and upright grille familiar from most of the brand's existing cars. Full-LED headlights and J-shaped running lights accent the front, while prominent creases run from the corners of the grille to the B-pillar. On the back, narrow taillights and wide haunches recall the tail of the Jaguar F-Type roadster. A slightly canted roof with a panoramic glass sunroof and a steeply angled liftgate complete the crossover silhouette. Twenty-three-inch wheels confirm that this is a concept car.
Jaguar will confirm precious little about the aluminum chassis it uses for the C-X17 concept car, only affirming that the setup is strong, light, and easily adaptable to different types of vehicles. Corporate sibling Land Rover used aluminum to cut several hundred pounds out of the new Range Rover, so it stands to reason Jaguar's next sedan could go on an equally impressive diet. Moreover, Jaguar claims it will be able to increase its vehicle production capacity in Solihull, England, thanks to efficiencies of the new aluminum platform, while designers will have broader ability to craft multiple types of vehicle atop the chassis.
On and off the beaten path
In keeping with its sporting purpose, the Jaguar C-CX17 concept is said to be designed for on-road driving first. Its center of gravity is low and, thanks to aluminum construction, its overall weight is low. The standard all-wheel-drive system is biased toward the rear wheels and has torque vectoring to help steer the car through corners. At the same time, Jaguar endowed the crossover with a modicum of off-road ability, giving it 8.3 inches of ground clearance and a switch to pick from Road, Sport, and All-Road driving modes.
Both the Jaguar C-X17 concept and the sedan that debuts in 2015 will use a new series of turbo-diesel and turbo-gasoline engines, which the company says will emit fewer than 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer -- the lowest emissions yet from any modern Jaguar. Also on the order sheet is the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 from the F-Type, which produces either 340 hp or 380 hp, depending on options, in the roadster. That powertrain will propel the promised sedan to 186 mph, Jaguar claims.
Connolly leather and milled aluminum dominate the four-seat interior, along with gloss-black trim and multiple LCD screens. Vertical slats, with cutouts to allow for more rear headroom, cover the enormous glass roof panel. Up front, a pair of LCD screens takes the place of normal instruments in the two-binnacle cluster, and a head-up display is available. Jaguar's next-generation infotainment system sits atop the dashboard, and a rotary dial on the center console is used to shift the C-X17 concept's automatic transmission.
Interconnected screens on the full-length center console form what Jaguar calls the Interactive Surface Console. The color touchscreen lets passengers share photos, videos, music, and more from their smartphones; by "flicking" content on the screen, it can be shared with other passengers in the car. The ISC also has its own wireless network. A 12-speaker Meridian sound system, similar to the ones already offered in Jaguar Land Rover products, comes standard in the C-X17 concept.
Three more years
While Jaguar will almost certainly launch a crossover in the vein of the C-X17 concept, the biggest news is that the automaker has confirmed plans to enter the midsize sport-sedan segment. Due by 2015 in Europe and in 2016 for the United States, the car will give Jaguar a chance at fighting the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the BMW 3 Series, and the Cadillac ATS. Its aluminum architecture should keep weight low, improving both performance and fuel economy, and the car's lower entry price will help lure new, younger customers to the Jaguar brand. The C-X17 concept is certainly alluring, but we're even more eager to see the sedan.