Car news

25 May 2011

Jag’s new crossover SUV

Aluminium body, 4WD and designed by Ian Callum. Sounds good, right? Paul Horrell has the details

Paul Horrell
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Jaguar's next five years are going to be action-packed. It's going to bust out in all sorts of directions from its current niche of lush saloons and GTs.

The confirmed production C-X75 isn't even a fraction of it. You'll also no doubt be expecting the small two-seat roadster and coupe for 2013 - let's call them the F-type. Then there's a small saloon or hatch due in late 2014, a sort of Audi A5 Sportback rival. Again, no great surprise.

The real shock is a crossover SUV. It's not yet fully designed, but there's every intention to build it, from around 2015. Isn't that Land Rover's territory? Well, Jag people think they can do something different - so ignore all those Photoshop renderings washing round the interweb of Evoques with a Jag grille pasted on.

The key is aluminium.

See, Jaguar is planning that all its cars use aluminium bodies, as the XJ and XK do now (the current XF is steel, but that'll change when it's replaced in 2014.) The engineers say their aluminium bodywork saves about 200-300kg per vehicle, once you've accounted for the lighter powertrains and brakes that come with the lighter bodies.

But the XJ/XK platform is too big for the new sports car and compact saloon/hatch. So the company has got to develop a new rear-drive platform to build those cars.

But here's the dilemma. On their own their sales wouldn't be enough to pay for the development and tooling for the new platform. Jaguar needs, in industry jargon, more volume. It wants 200,000 cars a year from the new platform - at the moment it sells just 50k a year all-in. And the SUV ought to give a big slice of that extra volume, in America and China and Russia.

Imagine, a compact crossover with the lightness and agility of aluminium. No-one else is doing that. And won't be before 2015.

So what've we got? Aluminium body styled as only Ian Callum knows how. Engines: four-cylinder 2.2 and 3.0 V6 diesels. For petrols, the choice to go either eco or hi-performance depending what people want by then. They can use the four-cylinder turbo from the Evoque, or a new 3.7 V6 from the F-type, or even a supercharged version of that. Transmission: eight-speed auto. Four-wheel drive. And even a full-hybrid option too, using the system that'll go into the next-gen Range Rover in 2012.

Jaguar even has a 4WD system already in development, to be fitted to the XJ from 2013 to make it an Audi A8 rival in snowy markets. This can be plugged into the new crossover.

Buying an Audi Q5? Go ahead. This Jag will be ready just in time for you to trade it in.

 

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