By on September 8, 2013

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In advance of its public debut at the upcoming Frankfurt show, Jaguar has dropped a front 3/4 beauty shot and other images of its new compact crossover. Since there’s no shortage of wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who see this as a Porsche Cayenne level brand heresy, and since I’m a contrarian non-comformist by nature, I’m going to swim against the stream and say that the CX-17 or whatever they end up calling it, makes sense, or at least it can in today’s market. Compact (and smaller) crossovers are the hot thing in the car biz these days. Lexus just released images of a LF-NX compact crossover concept that presumably will also be revealed at the Frankfurt show. GM is looking to shuffle production because GM Korea can’t build enough Buick Encores and Opel Mokkas. Land Rover is having record monthly sales, in part due to the success of the Evoque.

Which raises the question, why build a small Jaguar crossover when Jaguar Land Rover already builds the Evoque? That’s a good question but I think JLR’s product planners understand the difference between a Jaguar and a Land Rover, and also between a Land Rover and a Range Rover. If you note, the Evoque is branded as a Land Rover, not a Range Rover. JLR already offers two different flavors of midsize SUVs, built on the same platform, the LR4/Discovery and the sportier, more elegant Range Rover Sport, and that distinction is carried over to the company’s full size SUVs, the Range Rover and the Land Rover Defender, which is not currently sold in the U.S. While there is plenty of component sharing being done, the company appears to carefully distinguish between the luxurious Range Rovers and the more utilitarian Landies.

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Why then market a luxury compact SUV as a Jaguar and not a Range Rover? Another good question and I’m sure those product planners have considered it. I don’t have a great answer for that question but I do think it oddly might have something to do with not wanting to affect the Range Rover subbrand, seen an a vehicle with all of the capabilities of a Land Rover, but also comfortable and truly luxurious. Right now there are only two vehicles that carry the Range Rover brand, the original full size version and the Sport, which as alluded to above is really a LR4 with Range Rover looking body panels and a Range Rover looking interior. I’m sure that plenty of people think that the Range Rover Sport is  a sporty variant of the Range Rover, rather than an upscale LR4.

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Making an entry level Range Rover might be like Packard offering the “junior” Packards in the 1930s, good in the short term but long term it may lower the prestige of the brand. The question might be better phrased as “why not a compact Range Rover crossover?”

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If a crossover at that price point might hurt Range Rover,  then won’t it hurt the Jaguar brand? Jaguar has no reputation as a builder of utility vehicles, upscale or utilitarian, at all, so they have no reputation in that segment to hurt, just as Porsche didn’t with the Cayenne. We enthusiasts may bemoan the “damage” that the Cayenne does to the Porsche brand, but the simple truth is that the Cayenne makes SUVs full of cash for Porsche and the VW group. Selling a compact crossover as a Jaguar may have less downside than as a Range Rover, with just as much upside or more.

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There’s also the issue of brand recognition. Though we live in an age when even non-enthusiasts know that a Lotus is a kind of sports car and hip hoppers rap about Aventadors, I’d still guess that Jaguar has better brand recognition, particularly in the U.S., than either Land Rover or Range Rover.

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Just as JLR probably knows the difference between a Land Rover and a Range Rover, they know the difference between those brands and Jaguar. I’m guessing that you do too. Do I have to lay out how a Jaguar crossover would be different than one with the LR or RR brand? Just as Porsche can and does market the Cayenne as an authentic Porsche, heir to Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche’s sports cars, so Jaguar can sell the CX-17 as the Jaguar of crossovers, with an air of cosseting that even Range Rovers don’t have. A proper suburban car, a Jaguar crossover would not have to have all of that off-road-ready gear that buyers of Land Rovers and Range Rovers expect on their vehicles, even if they may never use it. It could also trade on the part of Jaguar’s heritage that has to do with performance, just as Porsche has done. Just writing that it seems to me that Jaguar can bring more in terms of brand image to a crossover than Porsche can with its new Macan. Porsche is known as a maker of sports cars. Jaguar is known as a maker of fast, luxurious and comfortable cars.

Or, think of it this way: do you think the average suburban mom would rather drive a vehicle with a Land Rover, Range Rover or Jaguar nameplate on it?

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It might work. We all laugh at the “Jeep” Compass, intended to sell to people put off by the more rugged looks and capabilities of the Patriot. The decision by Chrysler to build both of those Jeeplets from the same platform (shared with the also derided Dodge Caliber), again, is one of those things that prompts a lot of critical questioning? How much better would the Patriot have been if money wasn’t spent on the Compass? The answer is who knows? If you note, the Compass survived Chrysler’s bankruptcy, has been refreshed a couple of times, and you can buy a brand new 2014 model at your local Jeep dealer. I assume that after all that the reason why you can still buy them is that they are profitable for Chrysler. Selling a compact Jaguar crossover in the same showroom as a Land Rover Evoque might also be profitable.

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Ultimately, profitability is the measure of success in the auto industry. Performance, brand image and all the rest don’t really matter as long as a car or truck turns a profit. The reason why JLR will sell this as a Jaguar and not a Land Rover is because they think they’ll make more money that way. I think they’re right.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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35 Comments on “Jaguar’s New Crossover Makes Sense In Today’s Market...”


  • avatar
    fabriced28

    The fact that the Evoque IS sold as a Range Rover (as written on the hood) weakens the point. The management of brands by JLR is not the ideal case study you make it look. But I agree with the conclusion: there is nothing to damage on that side for Jaguar.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Exactly. The Evoque was always a Range Rover. Our author may be getting the Evoque confused with the LRX concept, which foreshadowed the Evoque’s shape and which was branded as a Land Rover. It does, however, loosely share its underpinnings with the LR2 and some Volvo vehicles.

      Also, the old Range Rover Sport did indeed use the LR4/Discovery 4′s unibody/body-on-frame hybrid platform. However, the new one rides on an aluminum architecture. Given the fact that the Sport only has a 99-pound weight advantage over the large Range Rover, I’d wager to say that the two vehicles share a premium platform. There really is mechanical and architectural distinction between a “Land Rover” and a “Range Rover”.

      What’s more, the lines between compact and midsized are getting blurry. The Lexus RX and Volvo XC60 really are midsized, yet they get lumped with compact entries like the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK. This looks larger than the (compact) Evoque, and probably slots nicely between said Evoque and the new Range Rover Sport…even though such a class really isn’t necessary.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    This is stunning. Another big winner for JLR I think. JLR is looking stronger by the day.

  • avatar
    Ion

    The Evoque is powered by Ford. Maybe this will have a Jag motor

  • avatar
    ajla

    “If you note, the Evoque is branded as a Land Rover, not a Range Rover.”

    Except it is branded as a Range Rover.
    ______________________
    “Performance, brand image and all the rest don’t really matter as long as a car or truck turns a profit.”

    I think this is an extremely short-sighted view. Short-term profitability at the expense of brand image or customer satisfaction is very rarely going to be a sound business strategy. I don’t think a Jaguar CUV is going to sink the brand, but executives need to look at more factors than just the bottom line of a single product to determine success.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I disagree. Porsche is the best example of how little brand image actually matters. They went from a sports car company to a lifestyle company. Jaguar would be wise to follow in those footsteps and deliver whatever customers want.

      Strict adherence to “the brand” as far as body styles go will only land you in the position of Lotus. Plus its not like Jag is exactly a strong + clear brand anyway. Their whole line up today looks nothing like and has no ties to the cars that made them great. The F-Type weighs nearly 2 tons. You could park an old XJ inside the new one. The XF looks Japanese. An SUV is hardly a final straw

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Brand image and reputation is important. It’s just that the Cayenne didn’t negatively effect Porsche’s image the way 993 owners were hoping it would.

        People always like to talk about how the profits on the Cayenne keep the lights on for the 911, but I’d argue that if Porsche’s sports cars didn’t create a desirable brand image for the wealthy in the first place then the Cayenne could never had existed.

        Like I said in my previous comment, I don’t think a Jaguar CUV is going to hurt the brand. If anything Jaguar’s long-time loyalty to the brandy snifter gang in the past has hurt it.

        However, I still don’t agree with Ronnie’s idea that “if it makes money it’s all good” is correct.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I would qualify Ronnie’s idea with the added statement, “if it makes money and doesnt interfere with the cars we like it’s all good”. Cayenne is the perfect example. To me, it makes more sense for the 911 and Cayenne to exist, than for the 911 to not exist at all after Porsche goes out of business. It’s still a business and the existence of the Cayamera has no bearing on the 911.

  • avatar
    nine11c2

    Silly article. The Evoque is a Range Rover..

    http://www.landrover.com/us/en/lr/range-rover-evoque/

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    The Evoque falls under the Range Rover brand and uses that vehicle’s cachet as the ‘range topper’ (no pun intended) of the Land Rover division. Range Rover is the chic, fashionable, trendy moniker while the remaining LR4 and LR2 products are more downmarket and utilitarian.

    Will this Jaguar hurt the brand? No. Not any more than the past two decades of blundering entry-level models, nonsensical offerings (X-Type wagon? X-Type with a stick?), woeful depreciation, and middling build quality/overabundance of ‘character’ have damaged Jaguar’s integrity.

    And that’s coming from someone who LIKES Jaguar…

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Quick poll of the kuties visiting the shop today… Hell yes! We would love to go shopping and pick up the kids in a Jaguaaar… CUV. I think the name sells the brand, like Maserati.

    Of course these young Kuties probably don’t know some of the negatives applied to the name from some of Jags past issues, I do, and I still don’t care. JLR and Ford seem to have left all of that in the past.

    The proposed Jag CUV/SUV?, would make a lot more people aware of the brand.

    A new Jag engine in a globalized corporate world…Even Maserati or Lamborghini can’t have their own engine.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Just makes me a little sadder for the state of the car world that we get more SUVs yet I’m finding it difficult to find a sport sedan with a manual box.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I disagree with the premise of the article, this four years ago may have made sense but not today, its redundant in the wake of Land Rover and all of the other premium faux SUVs on the market, Jaguar missed the boat. How many Evoque like models can you sell out of one JLR dealership? Maybe they are going for the Compass/Patriot strategy where you sell the same thing twice in a different style and set of trim packages as alluded to in the article. Trouble is with Chrysler I’d imagine the sales strategy was to keep Patriot more conservative to appeal to Cherokee buyers who might try to use the off-road capabilities. Nobody is taking this “Jaguar” off-road just as no one is taking their Evoque and the like off road. So your sales strategy is this one’s hideous and this one has less awful styling? The model is pointless in 2013, just another choice to cross-shop when looking for a high dollar low capability POS.

    “Or, think of it this way: do you think the average suburban mom would rather drive a vehicle with a Land Rover, Range Rover or Jaguar nameplate on it?”

    This is easy, women want the Range Rover. They want to ooze luxury, while looking stylish, have zero real capability in their ride since it never leaves pavement, and I suspect the “real” RR buyers *want* to burn gas as a sign of wealth (while wannabes need reasonable fuel economy).

  • avatar
    Acd

    Since Jaguar has lost hundreds of millions and into the billions of dollars building “traditional” Jaguars for so many years, from a business standpoint this makes sense. For those of us who like “traditional” Jaguars this is a departure too far that already seems to be filled by other brands–see the comments about the Evoque above.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Jaguars New Crossover Makes Sense in Today’s Market”

    That doesn’t mean I have to like it. Now get off my lawn!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    This is the badge engineering problem in a nutshell.

    Badge engineering can be very tempting, because it looks like an easy way for a second brand to ride the wave created by the first brand. On paper, it looks like a winner — the second car is cheaper to develop, which makes the accountants very happy.

    But the spreadsheets are deceptive. Often, the second model ultimately dilutes the brand value of both vehicles, as it cannibalizes sales of the first. Instead of helping, both get hurt.

    This is where marginal analysis makes more sense, i.e. the type of analysis that GM didn’t do that led it to its bankruptcy. JLR could probably spend a fraction of what it would spend to develop this new crossover, and channel those funds instead into efforts that would sell more Land Rovers.

    In the big picture, it would be more profitable to sell high volumes of the existing Land Rover lineup than it would be to invent and support an additional model with a different badge.

    This new Jaguar crossover reeks of the work of brand managers who are trying to justify the existence of the Jaguar badge, instead of creating benefit for the entire Jaguar Land Rover enterprise. It would be far more logical to have Land Rover be a crossover brand and Jaguar be a car brand, and to market and sell them alongside each other. That probably means that Land Rover would get most of the volume, since the future of the automobile involves boxes with elevated seating positions, but that shouldn’t matter.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      It does matter though, because eventually Jaguar’s volume might not be sustainable without an SUV. Jag is in 3 increasingly irrelevant segments (large luxury, midsize luxury, luxury but not exotic sports car). They can’t move into the sport sedan segment- already too crowded. They can’t go upmarket- no volume, nobody buys or cares about $200,300K sedans. They can’t go downmarket- that would whittle away what little brand equity they have left. A CUV is the obvious answer.

      I don’t see much overlap with the Evoque. This and the Evoque make very different visual statements. I definitely prefer the Evoque to this; I am sure some folks prefer this to the Evoque. Plus LR/RR’s larger SUVs are very overengineered. Jag can make CUVs that will essentially replace their sedans. Lets not pretend like the XJ, in all its 70s Eldoradoesque girth, is some dynamic force that would lose anything in the transformation into an X6 like CUV. I think the two brands could both make SUV/CUVs and still have plenty of separation.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “eventually Jaguar’s volume might not be sustainable without an SUV.”

        Jaguar does not need to justify its existence as a solo brand. It is paired up with Land Rover.

        Jaguar and Land Rover are not competitors. Their missions should not overlap, since they should work in synch with each other.

        Jaguar has just scored a hit with the F-type. If properly groomed, it has the potential to turn itself into a maker of high-margin exotics that can compete with Ferrari, etc.

        Moving down market, Jaguar has no chance. It won’t be able to compete with the Germans; it lacks the scale to do it.

        If JLR can’t figure out how to sell enough Land Rovers to make a tidy profit, then they shouldn’t be in the business of selling them under a second badge.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Theres too many things to dislike about this thing (Mazda looks, brand, etc), but I’d rather state something that I DO like about it.

    I predicted how it’d look before I even saw the concept, a generic CUV body with a Jaguar front end on it, now I’m going to throw this out there:

    It’ll be powered by a de-tuned V8 or a V6 borrowed from the Jaguar F-Type, and it’ll offer three “levels” with a fancy V8 model, pointless stripped V6 entry model, and the mid-level model that everyone will buy.

  • avatar

    Isn’t it just another version of Ford Escape? I know Lincoln is coming with it’s own version too.

  • avatar
    niky

    The Evoque is what the Freelander should have been, but wasn’t… a gorgeous middle finger to all pretensions of practicality and mass market appeal. It sells pretty well. And is pretty handy off-road, too, for a crossover.

    A Jaguar CUV will likely have more mainstream appeal, with the added snob-appeal of the Jag badge and Jaguar interiors. It should sell well… and there’s probably more of a market for this car than the XF and F-Type combined.

    Jaguar MUST make this car to stay relevant. But they MUST make it good.

  • avatar
    Joss

    What’s the depreciation hit for stalled traffic communism?

    It looks un-Jaguar and none defining. Kia made it.

    Yo Zip on your gas card.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    A Jag CUV to drop Muffin and Jr off at the Country Day School? Will it be valet parked while its driver meets other ladies who do lunch? Oh this will sell. Purist will wring their hands and gnash their teeth but the Jag sedans are getting old and dealers need new iron to move.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    All the rational reasoning as to when this vehicle should exist as a Jag/Land/Range Rover doesn’t matter because it looks too much like a Mazda CX-5… http://www.autoweek.com/storyimage/CW/20110905/CARNEWS/110909939/AR/0/mazda-cx5.jpg …To think of it as anything high end luxury CUV. Considering the dramatic styling of everything else Jaguar this is a dud, though it’s fine as a Mazda, there isn’t one thing about this vehicle that evokes Jaguar and since this is Jaguar’s first entry into a market they have no track record it should be saying more then Cadillac Cimarron

  • avatar
    Blue-S

    While it is true that the 2006-2013 Range Rover Sport was a close relative of the body-on-frame LR3/LR4 platform, the fantastic new 2014 Range Rover Sport (in dealers now) is built on the rivet-bonded aluminum monocoque, chassis, drivetrain & electrical architecture of the 2013-14 Range Rover.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Of course it makes sense! So for all of you so called loyalists, the naysayers, the arm chair CEOs need to evaluate the motive here, the almighty dollar.

    Most everyone calling for Jaguar not to make this vehicle couldn’t even walk into a Jaguar dealership, let alone make financial decisions for a company that has been missing out on the SUV/CUV market for way too long.

    This is long overdue. Bring on an X5/X6 competitor while you’re at it Jaguar.

  • avatar
    stephenjmcn

    CUV’s are the way of the world now, so it makes sense from that standpoint alone – if makers want to compete, this is what they’ll increasingly have to do.

    From a JLR internal standpoint, this will appeal to a different consumer than the Evoque & Freelander (LR2), which are themselves well differentiated. It’ll appeal to the customer who wouldn’t have bought a Jaguar in the past, or those who want a more compact Jaguar. These people have had plenty of opportunity to buy the Evoque or Freelander in the past.

    No-one really criticises VW for spinning several CUVs off the same platform (Q7, Cayenne, Toureg, for starters) – why should it be different for JLR?

  • avatar
    JD321

    The entire world is moving away from sedans and sports car and into CUVs. It is just plain stupid Jaguar is only now considering this. Even the Buick Encore was a good idea.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I love my Buick Encore. I”ve seen 39 mpg one a tankful…with AWD. Making it the most efficient AWD, gasoline engine sold. I grew up in sport cars and ride sports bikes so I am used to being uncomfortable. I usually lower suspensions, swap in seating for race seats, and tune the engine for more power. The Encore makes the perfect car for my almost fifty year old body. Quiet ride, great transimssion that seems to now my intensions, and enough lateral handling to throw cell phones, sunglasses, and fluffy around the cabin as I pitch through he sweepers. And it has braking to plunge your passengers forward on their seat belts.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I can appreciate that Jag needs a crossover to help stay relevant in today’s market, and it doesn’t seem as a Porsche-level betrayal, especially if they make a shallow effort to insert grace, space, and pace.

    But if this shows up on our shores and the gorgeous XF wagon never does, it’s worthy of some French Revolution-grade revolting.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Great looking CUV. Jag will sell a bunch of them if….it’s bigger than the Evoque. The Evoque still leaves a gap that is filled, badly, by the LR2. They need a midsize/compact CUV…something in the X3, Q5, RDX size space. The Evoque is much smaller than even an Escape, RAV4 or CRV. The Range Rover Sport is bigger than an RX350. There’s a huge gap, and the LR4 doesn’t fill it, because it’s a gigantic, ponderous bloated gas pig.

    If this is the same size as an Evoque…then epic fail.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Range Rover Evoque is quite small even for a compact CUV (I’d rank it with the Tiguan). The 2014 Range Rover Sport is of course larger, because it competes with larger, rugged vehicles like the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz ML-Class. I don’t think there really is a necessity to hit the tweener-market, where soft-sprung CUVs like the RDX, RX, MKX, SRX and X3 lie.

      Now why they’ve put a third-row seat in the Range Rover Sport but *not* in the large Range Rover is beyond me…


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