The Jaguar C-X17 concept is still to be confirmed officially for production, though the British brand has admitted luxury car makers can’t afford to omit an SUV-style vehicle from its line-up.
In an interview with CarAdvice, however, Jaguar’s chief designer for exteriors, Matt Beaven, gave the strongest indication yet the company will put the crossover into showrooms.
“It’s hard to think you can get along without doing one [an SUV/crossover],” said Beaven. “Time’s change, lifestyles change, and you’ve got to make sure you change with it and design cars customers really want – that’s the most important thing.
“You’ve can’t be too stuck in your ways; you’ve got to think laterally. I’d say you can’t survive without cars like this. As long as they uphold the brand and they stand for everything the company stands for, there’s no reason not to do it.”
Beaven says the company was conscious of the controversy that surrounded the Porsche Cayenne when it first launched, admitting there were sceptics both inside and outside the company because it had never produced a high-riding Jaguar.
“A lot of people said we wouldn’t be able to do it, to be honest,” said Beaven. “If you’d asked any enthusiast or Jag follower, the answer would be, 'no way, don’t do it'. When you haven’t seen anything like it before, it’s difficult to imagine [a Jag crossover] – and if you get it wrong it can be quite damaging.
“That was the risk. The best thing is that since we’ve done the concept, it’s changed everyone’s opinion. We get very few people say we can’t do this car. Most say it is a Jaguar and has all the elements of a Jaguar.
“[The SUV/crossover] seems to be the car everyone wants now. It’s the world car. They want sleek and dynamic but something practical and it’s trying to get the blend right.”
Beaven said while the C-X17’s interior was strongly conceptual, the exterior required few changes to be production ready.
Jaguar design boss Ian Callum told CarAdvice at the 2012 Geneva motor show that a crossover-style vehicle but not an SUV was being considered, and Beaven concurs that the company doesn’t consider the C-X17 an SUV.
“We see this is as a sports crossover. That’s the trickiest thing for us. When you start with a blank sheet of paper and all the cars we do are this tall [lowering his hand well below the C-X17’s roofline] and asked to do a car that’s 1.6m tall, has got to be practical, has got to seat four or five people and luggage, that’s the challenge really. How do we ensure this car is very much a Jaguar but is everything a crossover needs to be.”
The Jaguar XE compact luxury model will be the company’s next product launch, previewed in a single image at the 2014 Geneva motor show. CarAdvice understands the XE will be revealed in full sometime in the UK summer (June-Aug) before debuting in mid 2015.
A next-generation version of the larger XF that will sit on an extended version of the XE’s platform is expected in late 2015 or 2016, with the production iteration of the C-X17 likely to appear in 2016.