We knew it was just a question of time until one of the last premium brand holdouts broke down and showed its intentions to build an SUV. With the Jaguar C-X17 Concept, Coventry has finally capitulated to the overwhelming worldwide demand for crossovers. The C-X17 is a showcase for Jaguar's new and awkwardly named iQ[Al] aluminum architecture, which will underpin multiple future Jaguar models, the first of which to hit showrooms will be a C/D-segment sedan, Jaguar's long-rumored 3 Series fighter and successor to the poorly received, Ford Mondeo-based X-Type. The sedan is expected in 2015.
But for shock factor, an SUV was clearly Jaguar's way of making a statement to the luxury-car market that it's ready to play in the big leagues in volume and product variety. As far as crossovers go, the C-X17 is on the smaller side of the premium class, shorter in length than the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML, Infiniti QX70, Porsche Cayenne, and Range Rover Sport, but slightly larger than the Audi Q5. Preliminary dimensions for the C-X17 are a length of 185.7 inches, a wheelbase of 114.4 inches, a height of 64.9 inches, and a width of 77.1 inches. Ground clearance for the road-oriented crossover is a respectable 8.4 inches.
Specific powertrain details were not announced, but mentions of an all-new engine family, including diesel engines, as well as multiple references to the F-Type's supercharged V-6 suggest that at least one of the engine options will be a supercharged or turbocharged V-6 in the neighborhood of 340-plus hp. A next-generation four-cylinder turbo may be offered as an entry-level engine, replacing the current Ford EcoBoost-derived engines offered in the XF and Range Rover Evoque.
The front styling of the C-X17 is clearly Jaguar, with the grille shape and headlight design showing a strong resemblance to the brand's other models such as the XF and XJ sedans. As expected for a contemporary concept, exterior lighting is all-LED, with J-shaped driving lights surrounding the lower-front air intakes. The C-X17 also makes minimal use of brightwork, with the only pieces of note being the grille surround, and leaping cat logo and lettering on the tailgate. From the side profile, a pronounced flare and character line around the rear wheels gives it a purposeful stance, accentuated by large 23-inch wheels on the concept. A Caesium Blue paintjob gives the C-X17 a contemporary, classy look.
Aside from the oversized wheels, nothing on the exterior of the C-X17 looks outrageous or unfeasible. The interior takes a few more flights of fancy in its styling and details. Front and rear high-back bucket seats are trimmed in Jaguar's traditional Connolly hides, in a two-tone color scheme of Jet Saddle and Orchid. Die-cut houndstooth leather inserts on the seat bottom and back enable ventilation, as well as giving a more modern look. The one feature probably not likely to make the production cut, at least not in its entirety, is the Interactive Surface Console, a full-length front-to-rear clear acrylic console with sequential, interconnected touchscreens, allowing passengers to "flick" images and messages back and forth to each other, including Facebook, Twitter, and other social media updates. We're a little more enthusiastic about the audio package, which is a 12-speaker Meridian system, with rear console-mounted subwoofers, dashboard-mounted speakers, and head-level speakers in the seats for an immersive sonic experience. As in the XJ, the C-X17 features a configurable TFT gauge cluster, and a provision for a head-up display. In what's become a contemporary Jaguar/Land Rover trademark, a rotary dial shifter is featured on the console, finished in ruthenium metal, a type of platinum.
The C-X17 concept is strictly a four-seater, but does feature two rear-facing "leisure seats" that pop out of the rear cargo floor for upscale tailgating. In a concession to the practical nature of crossovers, we expect the production version will offer five-passenger seating as standard, although a four-passenger version may be offered as an option.
Jaguar was vague on the production prospects and timing for the C-X17, but make no mistake, a crossover is definitely in Jaguar's production future. We expect it to come to market immediately following the new C/D sedan, possibly as a 2016 model.