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A Jaguar - but not as you know it...

2014-02-14 07:29


BEAUTY AND THE NEW BEAST: Jaguar SA's product and pricing manager Lisa Mallett with the concept Jaguar C-X17 at its reveal in George. Image: LES STEPHENSON


Land Rover has released a short documentary film showing the Range Rover Sport's 800km dawn to dusk drive across the Empty Quarter desert, setting the fastest recorded time.

GEORGE, Western Cape – Then there was the launch of the 2016 Jaguar C-X17. It’s not even in assembly yet but Jaguar SA flew out concept car No.3 as part of its introductory world tour so local motoring writers and their dealer body could get up close and personal.

IMAGE GALLERY: Jaguar's C-X17 concept

Jaguar SA staffers there acknowledged that there’s still work to do on the production vehicles but if the vehicle we were shown is anything to go by at “the reveal” at Oubaai Golf Resort on the coast near George in the Western Cape then the UK luxury performance brand is going to come into the South African market hard in 2016 with the real thing.


The car is just a model – a luxury toy that, I’m told, cost the equivalent of R16-million to create and one of the men responsible for its creation was a modeller, wind-tunnel expert and former pattern-maker from Uitenhage now lost to South Africa. He’s 43-year-old Paul Preston who emigrated to the UK in 1999, joined the Land Rover Jaguar group and now lives there with his SA-born wife Kai and two-year-old son Liam.

VIDEO: Jaguar's C-X17 concept on the move

He was at the reveal to watch over his baby, to make sure no clumsy journalist slammed the doors too hard or damaged anything else on the car – each bit of which was made by hand. He was especially responsible for the doors, exterior body, front end and the cat’s-eyes lights (specially made in China).

Also there was Jaguar SA’s product and pricing manager Lisa Mallett, who presented the sleek red car. “It’s a dynamic SUV with Jaguar DNA,” she said, “and the most talked-about vehicle at the recent Frankfurt auto show.

“It showcases Jaguar’s potential and our new aluminium architecture (most of the car, in fact, is aluminium) and is every inch a Jaguar but of the likes that have never been seen before – seductive design and intelligent performance.”


Similar systems, she said, will be used on a new car still to come from Jaguar – the brand’s equivalent of the BMW 3 Series and the world’s most advanced mi d-sized sedan – that has yet to be named but that and the car will be revealed at the 2014 Geneva auto show for launch in 2015.

“It uses knowledge shared with Range Rover and Range Rover Sport and uses similar aluminium architecture. It will be high-efficiency, high-performance and we’re looking at sub-100g/km emissions and 300km/h top speed and will have both two and all-wheel drive.”

It will herald a move by Jaguar into the volume vehicle market, Mallett said, and added not modestly: “It will be the most spectacular model launch in history.”

But back to the X-C17...


As I said, it’s a model and so far has a top speed of eight km/h – enough to move it around instead of wheeling it on the equivalent of a set of roller skates. Jaguar and Land Rover have a wide range of engines and transmissions for when the real thing arrives but, for now, nobody is sure what/which will be used.

The C17 will not, however, be a hard-core 4x4 – Land Rover and its elegant posher sisters offer plenty of those for the serious off-road market – but it will have high-tech communications, in-car wi-fi and a number of screens for the personal entertainment of various passengers.

Its wheels might not turn out to be as huge as the 23” items on the concept model but even so it seems they will be spectacular.

The accommodation on Concept No.3 is rich, the four bucket seats (hard leather on the concept, certainly too hard for production) are separated by a large transmission tunnel-cum-central console to carry the multiple screens, the steering-wheel much larger than normal, and the boot equipped with what looks like a two-piece removable and cleanable plastic floor.

Five seats could be an option.


It’s an outrageous boot: time will tell whether such a radical arrangement will make it to production.

Jaguar describes the C17 as “a sports crossover to showcase next-generation lightweight technologies and advanced aluminium monocoque architecture”. The car, the automaker says, will be light, extremely stiff and incorporate innovative technologies that emphasise Jaguar’s commitment to sustainability.

“As a sports crossover, the Jaguar C-X17 stretches the design possibilities of the segment by combining the character and driving experience of a sports car with increased presence, style and flexibility.

“It represents the potential expansion of Jaguar’s portfolio of body styles, with the associated enhancement of the brand’s relevance and appeal to a wider global audience.”

The C-X17 concept was overseen by JLR’s director of design Ian Callum.

Jaguar adds: “The C-X17 could offer refined on-road dynamics and sedan car handling, thanks to its low height, optimised centre of gravity, and use of cutting-edge dynamic technologies such as Torque Vectoring by Braking, in which the car intelligently uses its brake system to balance the distribution of engine torque to the wheels during cornering, reducing understeer and maximising grip.”


Callum adds in a media release: “We designed the C-X17 from the ground up from a distinct set of principles, a deep sense of what makes a Jaguar: exciting proportions, clean lines, balance of form. Assertive and powerful, yet with a beautiful sensuality about it, the C-X17 is boldly, distinctively Jaguar.”

The car as it stands is 4718mm long and 1649mm tall – “its dimensions are clearly that of a crossover”. The grille is said to be an evolution of the nose of the Jaguar XJ sedan, its haunch lines hint strongly of the award-winning design of the Jaguar F-Type sports car.

The big wheels on the concept, Jaguar says, are intended to present a sporting, assertive presence, the cat’s-eyes headlights, J-shaped running lights and frosted-glass fog lights set into the large front intakes “add to the C-X17’s purposeful intent”.

The C-X17’s premium in-car digital audio system has been specially designed for the vehicle by British specialist audio firm Meridian (I understand 28 speakers are planned) and the car’s centre console is configured for a head-up projector.
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