Jaguar C-X17 Concept is the Rare SUV That Doesn’t Look Like a Half-Assed Money Grab
As a car enthusiast, I am naturally inclined to hate “sport” utility vehicles. Too tall, too heavy, too expensive, too dumpy. The drivers have a rocky perception of spatial relationships and inevitably stop in the middle of the pedestrian lane, much to the chagrin of cars looking to turn right against a red light. BMW X3/X5 drivers now flit between lanes wantonly in a 3-ton battering ram rather than a 2-ton flyswatter. Et cetera. As with the Lamborghini Urus and Range Rover Evoque, the new Jaguar C-X17 concept is the rare car that makes me reconsider my anti-SUV stance. But then I see an Escalade (bet you didn’t you know they are still being produced!) and remember why my vitriol existed in the first place. The C-X17, then, is the exception to the rule; it is the CTS-V Wagon of the SUV world: people who don’t give two shits about the body type suddenly take notice. With the complete overhaul of Jaguar/Land Rover vehicles and subsequent critical and sales success, Ford’s sale of its true premium brands has become a big black eye for the company, and that failure has never been more apparent as it is today.
Jaguar once occupied the space between luxury and sportiness, a position it gladly ceded to BMW three decades ago. While Bimmer actively courted a younger (and wider) demographic, Jaguar primarily appealed to the elderly and British xenophobes. The brand languished under Ford, where it served little purpose other than to allow Ford to charge a premium for reskinned Contours or Lincoln LSes. The XF that relaunched the brand was developed during Ford’s ownership, but the parent sold Jag to Tata Motors before the midsize sedan even came to market. It allowed Tata to enjoy the sales rebound that followed the car’s release, which has led to the creation of a new Jaguar XJ, the F-Type sports car, a possible supercar, and now an SUV concept.
Why am I bringing this up now? The design language introduced in the XF has altered the way that modern Jaguars look in an irrevocable way. It is a little more anonymous for sure, but Jaguar design hadn’t changed in a very long time, and most new buyers couldn’t care less about the abandonment of the old, boxy X-Type, S-Type, and XJ. It is because of the new Jaguar design and its successful application on a crossover chassis that makes me want to give this SUV a chance.
I understand the business case for SUVs. They allow automakers to charge a higher price for what is essentially a raised wagon or truck with a third row where the bed used to be. As someone who loves cars, however, I view SUVs as little more than transparent cash grabs that companies deploy to fulfill their most deranged Scrooge McDuck swimming fantasies (shout out to Porsche!). It’s all about the execution, and most companies don’t understand that. If Porsche had to make an SUV to keep the 911, Boxster, and Cayman afloat, why base it on the uninspiring and slow-sellingTouareg?
Jaguar seems to understand that execution for an SUV with a roaring feline badge is top priority, and although engine and transmission details are scant at this point, the C-X17’s underpinnings are known. The platform is all-aluminum and will be used in future Jaguar production models. By not going with a full-sized SUV, Jaguar doesn’t have to develop a standalone platform or pay royalties to another manufacturer to use theirs. With gas prices high, those truck-based vehicles are not much in vogue anyway, and Jag will undoubtedly use the architecture to bring down development costs to bring a new compact-to-midsize sedan to market; that car is expected to slot below the XF to compete with the much-loved BMW 3 Series.
At the moment, the C-X17 has not been officially slated for production, and the aforementioned sedan will be the first to use the SUV’s aluminum platform. It does beg the question, though, why would Jaguar reveal such a critical piece of its future success and not unveil it wrapped in a world-class sedan concept form? I’m guessing that Jaguar is testing the marketability of a Jaguar SUV, and the buzz online seems to point to a positive reception. Something tells me that this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the C-X17.
Photos courtesy of Jaguar