Jaguar’s C-X17 crossover concept might have show-stopping looks, but it’s what will lie beneath the production crossover – thought to be called QX – that’s just as intriguing: an all-new aluminium platform, dubbed ‘iQ Al’. It’s a clean-sheet design, with double-wishbone suspension up front, and a multi-link axle at the rear.
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Jaguar C-X17 crossover concept: the lowdown on the ‘iQ Al’ aluminium platform
‘It had to be a clean-sheet design to reach our goals,’ says Jaguar vehicle line director Kevin Stride. ‘We have built expertise in aluminium-intensive structures like no-one else. No-one matches it now, and iQ Al will take it further with world-class, bespoke, no-excuses cars. iQ Al is a toolbox. It is fantastic.’
The core of iQ Al, explains Stride, will lie in the middle and at the front of each car, creating a modular platform for longitudinal-mounted engines powering either all four wheels or the rear wheels alone. From this common base all manner of different cars can be spun off quickly and easily. In fact, design boss Ian Callum describes the C-X17 – at 4.7 metres long and 1.63 metres high – as a ‘book-end of what we could get out of this architecture’, suggesting a more traditional Jaguar sports car would stop the books falling off the opposite end of the shelf...
Why does Jaguar need this new iQ Al platform?
‘The C-D segment [think 3-series size] is a major step up in production for Jaguar,’ continues Stride. ‘Therefore the modular architecture helps us achieve that with both the manufacturing and engineering process. It means more great cars, delivered faster, to more market segments, allowing Jaguar to respond more quickly and precisely to customer demands.’ Jaguar is already testing prototypes for its new BMW 3-series rival, a crucial market it's been absent from since the ill-fated X-type.
The new platform might make a lot of sense in the heads of bean–counters, but Jaguar promises it’ll stir the hearts of car enthusiasts too. ‘We started with the physical properties that enable great design,’ explains Stride. ‘We have to allow Ian and his team to build the great-looking cars we want.’
Strides assures us they’ll be fantastic to drive, too. ‘The aluminium suspension is common in concept,’ he explains, ‘but it is fully tuneable for every segment. It helps ride, refinement, steering precision and handling capability – the new suspension knuckle has all the targets that we’d put into the F-type, for instance.’
A production C-X17 isn’t yet officially confirmed for production, so it’ll fall to Jaguar’s 3-series rival, due 2015, to give us our first taste of how the new platform drives and how it compares to the best from Germany. It’s shaping up to be quite a fight.
Click here for our first official pictures story on the new Jaguar C-X17
Click here for CAR's interview with Jaguar design boss Ian Callum on the new C-X17's interior
Click here to watch the global unveiling of the Jaguar C-X17