The mid-sized mass-market luxury car segment is defined by the BMW 3 Series. Jaguar once tried to enter that segment with the X Type, but the “mini XJ” never caught on, in part because it was derided as a badge engineered Ford Mondeo. The C-X17 crossover concept revealed in Frankfurt this week is based on a new all-aluminum platform that will underpin a “range of future Jaguars”, the most important of which will be a mid-sized sedan to again take on the BMW 3 and its competitors. Jaguar has a core competency in aluminum construction and having the first all-aluminum car in the C and D segments will be a selling point for the new models. While Jaguar Land Rover’s current sales are the strongest the British car maker has had, JLR’s owners, Tata, are hoping that JLR will reach three quarters of a million units by 2020 and ultimately joining the ranks of automakers selling a million or more cars a year. To do that Jaguar needs a volume product, the most logical being a mid-sizer. With CUVs sales booming, a crossover based on the C-X17 will also help reach that volume. While differentiating between a Jaguar crossover and the Land Rover lineup will be an issue, Jaguar does say that the CUV will have some off-road capabilities.
Smaller displacement engines are seen as the auto industry’s future and JLR has invested $776 million in a new engine factory in Wolverhampton, England that will produce an all-new JLR designed four cylinder engine in both diesel and petrol versions that will likely be the standard powerplants in the vehicles based on the new platform. However, since a very large percentage of luxury cars sold in North America are currently sold with V6 engines, expect a version of Jaguar’s new V6 to be available as well. The availability of all wheel drive is critical for selling cars in the northern half of the United States, and Jaguar made a big splash this past winter about offering AWD on the XJ and XF, so you can likewise expect the new sedan to share the crossover’s AWD components.
Another current trend in the industry is modular architecture and Jaguar says that the new platform will be scalable, so it could in theory be the basis of cars the size of a BMW 5 or Mercedes-Benz E Class, or crossovers larger than the C-X17, which is about the size of an Audi Q5.