Unveiled: Jaguar C-X17 Sports Crossover Concept

WHAT: Jaguar’s first SUV. This is the size and shape of the premium-midsize crossover Jaguar will send against the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Unveiling the C-X17 at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, Jaguar says it blends the British brand’s sleek design and sporting performance with the “crossover benefits of an assured driving position and high levels of flexibility.” Some concept details may not make it to the showroom; the production version, for example, probably will hold five passengers, not four. But the flowing profile, athletic proportions, mesh grille, and slashing headlights and taillamps appear highly feasible. And don’t be surprised to see a consumer-ready version of the advanced interior technologies, including the Interactive-Surface center console – a multi-screen infotainment network that links passengers with each other and the outside world through social media channels. Jaguar’s challenge is to distinguish its crossover from not only the formidable German and Japanese competition, but also from SUV specialists Land Rover and Range Rover — which, like Jaguar, are owned by India’s Tata Motors. Expect Jaguar to promote the C-X17’s aluminum structure and body for its light weight and strength, attributes counted on for agile driving dynamics. All-wheel drive with torque vectoring would be standard. And U.S.-market engine choices likely will include V-6s and V-8s — naturally aspirated and supercharged – with up to 500 horsepower or more.

WHEN: Probably in 2016 as a 2016 or 2017 model.

WHY: The best-selling Acura, Lexus, Audi, Porsche, and Buick vehicles are not cars, but crossovers. Jaguar can wait no longer to field a SUV. And it’s eager to launch its new lightweight modular architecture that will form the basis not only for this crossover but for a new range of future Jaguar cars, beginning with a sport sedan designed to go against the BMW 3 Series.

HOW MUCH: Jaguar’s first crossover will be a performance-luxury image-builder, so look for starting prices in the $50,000-plus X5, Cayenne, M-Class strata not the low-$40,000 Acura MDX, Lexus RX level.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]