Jaguar is known for blending luxury with a hint of sport; embodying that concoction within the shell of a sedan. For years, Jaguars were described (prior to breaking down) as rolling cigar lounges for the mustached. But when India's Tata Motors purchased the British automaker from Ford in 2008, that vague hint of sportiness became further pronounced, while its stereotyped reliability woes improved. Finally, a more eclectic model lineup unraveled — including an increase in menacing R-S variants, a new two-seater F-Type sports car, and the first look at a track-focused GT line.
So what's all this about a crossover SUV?
As the success of the revamped Jaguar brand continues, harkening back to the E-Types and Le Mans winners of old, a bold step back to the future is planned, ditching tradition in favor of modern-day, family practicality. While the C-X17 remains a concept crossover SUV designed to showcase Jaguar's lightweight aluminum architecture that will become the norm in its future cars — much like it has for Land Rover — Jaguar is clearly eyeing the profitability of expanding its range. In many ways, this initially makes more sense than it did for Porsche; when it added the Cayenne, sports cars were all the German manufacturer had. For Jag, there remains a wider variety of machines available, making this more akin to BMW's expansion into new segments within the luxury realm.
Bentley, too, is planning an SUV, and Lamborghini have long been mulling its options. And with Jaguar's latest designs, as showcased clearly in the C-X17 — featuring an XJR front mashed to an F-Type's rear — the result appears suprisingly coherent. In fact, if the price is right, this could potentially be a serious moneymaker for Jag.
We don't know anything about what's under the hood, only that the C-X17 remains focused on driver engagement, boasting torque-vectoring and Sport mode meshed to its all-wheel drive system, while presumably keeping the pounds off due to its aluminum structure. Unlike the exterior, however, the inside appears more concept than production, showcasing futuristic materials, interactive infotainment systems and leisure seats in the trunk designed to offer a place to sit when the rear hatch is open (just because).
Jaguar looking at SUVs is merely another indication as to how the market is shifting; following the trends while catering to the heritage remains a must. Unveiled today in Frankfurt, the C-X17 proves change isn't bad, and increased profitability would lead to better cars throughout the range. When we'll see a Jaguar SUV remains unknown, but its aluminum architecture will appear in early 2015, hitting US shores in 2016, as a new compact/midsize Jaguar sedan. For the Brits, it's onwards and upwards.