Jaguar: The Future


At this week’s Frankfurt motor show Jaguar will show the C-X17 concept. It is a small, ‘cross-over’ SUV, the kind of car Jaguar might not have envisaged itself building, but exactly the kind of car the world wants, especially with a premium badge on the nose.

While the Jaguar-Land Rover group might be posting record sales and profits – 375,000 cars last year, up 22 per cent, and another billion-pound-plus profit – and Jaguar is making some of its best cars in years, it’s Land Rover that’s creating all the growth.

Jaguar still only accounts for around 60,000 of those sales, or around 16 per cent. Jaguar hasn’t had all-new models in new market niches like Land Rover’s Evoque that instantly add new sales. But it’s about to get them.

The styling of the Jaguar C-X17 is unashamedly inspired by the F-type, but it’s hardly a bad thing to be selling a relatively mass-market car that looks like the year’s hottest new sports car. The first of the family of new small Jags that this concept previews will actually be a saloon, with an estate, the SUV and a probably a small sports car all to follow.

The saloon will once again attempt to rival the BMW 3-series, but unlike the failed X-type it won’t have dumpy, awkward retro styling and uninspiring Ford Mondeo underpinnings. In fact, what lies beneath the C-X17 is even more exciting than the styling. It has an all-new, all-aluminium platform that will be the first made from the metal in this segment, and which brings all the same benefits as Jag’s other, more expensive cars enjoy: weight, stiffness, handling, performance, economy, emissions, and, well, everything, really.

It’s also much more expensive to build a car from aluminium, but we’ll see how Jaguar handles that when the saloon goes on sale and the price is announced in 2015.

Nothing wrong with charging high prices for a good car, though: BMW isn’t exactly suffering by doing the same thing, and to assure its future and catch up with the riotously successful Land Rover, Jaguar needs to drive up both its sales and its margins. It needs to capture new customers too, people who would never have thought of themselves as Jaguar buyers in the past. That’s why it needs to build cars unlike any Jaguars of the past. Would the Jaguar C-X17 – or a production car that looks very much like it – turn you into a Jaguar owner, if you’re not already? Jaguar’s future is right there, in your answer.