Doubling down on its presentation in Frankfurt, Jaguar took the wraps off of its next-generation lightweight aluminum platform and wrapped it in a slick one-off crossover SUV likely to be the precursor of an upcoming production model that will mark the automaker's first foray into this increasingly popular market segment. Although the Jaguar C-X17 Crossover Concept is officially categorized as "a study to demonstrate the capabilities of the new advanced aluminum unibody architecture," execs freely admit that it also represents "the potential expansion of Jaguar's portfolio of body styles" as the firm seeks to increase its relevance and appeal to a wider and more diverse group of upscale global buyers.
As intriguing as the C-X17 Crossover Concept may be, the first new Jaguar to be spun from the sophisticated and extremely scalable platform it introduces will be an all-new mid-size premium sedan due to rollout globally in 2015 and go on sale here the following year. Intended to be its new volume leader, Jag says this vehicle will be the first in its segment to feature a complete aluminum unit body and that the advanced design of this new architecture goes well beyond its current alloy-intensive underpinnings in terms of strength, rigidity and flexibility. Its introduction will open the door for a new range of vehicles unencumbered by many of the current technical and manufacturing restrictions.
Beyond allowing multiple different models and configurations to be built on the same assembly line and in greater numbers, this new platform also promises to enhance the dynamic character of each as well as improve interior packaging capabilities. Like the upcoming sedan, other mid-size vehicles spun from Jag's new aluminum architecture will be powered by an equally-new range of ultra-clean and ultra-efficient 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines as well as the current V6 used in the F-Type.
In creating the C-X17 Crossover Concept, Jaguar looked to fashion a highly versatile vehicle that offered a contemporary take on the automaker's classic design themes, both visually and dynamically. Finished in Cesium Blue with gloss black accents, the C-X17 is 185.7 inches long but measures just 77.1 inches from the ground to its roofline and matches a relatively long 114.4-inch wheelbase with wide track dimensions to enhance its natural stability. Although the normally rear-biased intelligent All-Wheel Drive setup in this Jag concept is designed primarily for on-road action in all weather and surface conditions, a generous 8.3 inches of ground clearance and full torque-vectoring capabilities also make it a natural for light-duty motoring when the pavement ends.
The exterior styling of the C-X17 Crossover Concept eschews flamboyance in favor of an elegant edge and well-measured proportions. Up front, its XJ-inspired grille is flanked by new slim-line headlamps that reportedly hint at the ones we'll see on the upcoming sedan while the profile view is punctuated by relatively long door-glass elements, dual "heartlines" and an aggressive 23-inch wheel/tire fitment. Fitted with a full-length panoramic glass panel, the sweeping roof on the C-X17 resolves into a tasteful spoiler atop its steeply raked liftback while the rear fascia shares basic contour elements and lighting design themes with the sporty F-Type.
Arguably more adventurous in tone, the cabin of the C-X17 Crossover Concept also matches traditional thinking with modern execution. Like the instrument panel, doors, floor and cargo area, the frames on its four lightweight individual bucket seats are covered in a mix of Jet saddle leather and Orchid leather while the actual seating surfaces feature rich Connolly leather with a die-cut houndstooth pattern. All metal accent trim is done in rutherium, a member of the platinum family that offers a more elegant alternative to bright chrome.
In addition to its premium 12-speaker Meridan sound system with Trifield technology, the C-X17 features a unique full-length Interactive Surface Console that consists of a series of interconnected touch screens which allow each passenger to trade information or photos with anyone else on board via a secure in-car Wi-Fi network. Driver-focused elements include a twin-dial configurable TFT instrument cluster, heads-up display and a bespoke version of Jag's signature articulated rotary-dial shift controller that can be toggled between Road, Sport or All-Road settings. As a final flourish, the spacious rear cargo area of the C-X17 also features a pair of "leisure seats" that swing up and out of floor when the vehicle is parked and the rear hatch opened. Made from milled aluminum and also covered in Connolly leather, they add a unique bit of practical charm to the mix.
While history has proven that nothing is ever certain in the auto game, the introduction of Jaguar's new platform architecture coupled with the automaker's commitment to press on into previously uncharted market territory should serve it well in the years ahead.
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