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Jaguar's new SUV has started its engineering journey to the showroom ahead of an expected on-sale date of 2016. The C-X17 SUV has the same basic aluminium architecture as Jaguar’s new XE compact saloon.
Thanks to the natively rear-drive chassis, the C-X17 is destined to challenge the Porsche Macan head on as a crossover with true sports car on-road dynamics, while sister brand Land Rover concentrates on luxury and ‘adventure’ off-roaders with the Range Rover and Discovery families.
Hidden under the heavily chopped-about body of a new baby Discovery is a much larger car. The wider tracks, longer wheelbase and extended rear overhang show that the production version of Jaguar’s SUV will be sized close to the 4.7m length of the concept that was first shown last year.
Dubbed internally as a ‘sports crossover’, the C-X17 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.
Although the concept version of the C-X17 was rather lower than this production model (which was the same height as the extremely compact Evoque), the real car is clearly quite sizeable.
That’s no surprise. 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 reckons 90 per cent of customers will be new to the Jaguar brand.
When the 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 as low as 99g/km in the 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 C-X17 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.
Compared with the Macan - which is based on the Audi Q5 architecture but fitted with the longitudinal Porsche PDK transmission - the C-X17 looks set to be more spacious. It’s expected to be longer and has much less of a coupé profile than the Macan.
The C-X17 will benefit from a better weight distribution than the Macan, with the engine sitting further back in the nose. The Jaguar should also undercut the Macan’s unladen weight of 1865kg, thanks to its all-aluminium structure.