Jaguar will launch a small saloon beneath the XF in 2015, the company confirmed on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show. The baby Jag (seen testing as a disguised evaluation mule in our spy shots gallery) will be constructed from aluminium and built in the West Midlands, creating around 1700 jobs. The news prompted a call to Jaguar from the office of Prime Minister David Cameron, offering Number 10's congratulations and support with the company's product expansion.
Jaguar's new sports saloon: the confirmation
Speaking at the world premiere of Jaguar's C-X17 concept, a crossover SUV that will be spun off the same aluminium architecture as the small saloon, Jaguar brand chief Adrian Hallmark said: 'With our intelligent aluminium architecture, we have the technology [to support] our future products, and the flexibility for a range of cars. The first car on this architecture will be delivered in 2015. It will be a small saloon, priced below the XF.'
The aluminium monocoque chassis will be fitted with four-cylinder petrol and diesels, that will emanate from the new Wolverhampton engine plant in 2015. Hallmark continued: 'This saloon will have an unparalleled blend of performance and efficiency, with the range offering less than 100g/km of CO2 and 300kph (186mph). The car will be a true Jaguar, and will revolutionise the segment.'
So BMW 3-series beware – and the bland new X5, if Jaguar puts its C-X17 concept into production. CAR attended the premiere, intrigued to see if Jaguar design could work successfully on an SUV. The C-X17 has the presence and impact of Lamborghini's Urus SUV, but with much more lithe and graceful detailing. Jaguar's saloon face translates convincingly to the taller nose, while the rear graphics –F-type lamps and sports car rear wings - ensure the C-X17's best angle is from the rear.
While there's been some soul-searching within Jaguar Land Rover about whether a production C-X17 would trample on Range Rover's turf, JLR CEO Dr Ralf Speth slapped designer Ian Callum on the back in front of CAR, and congratulated him on the concept's reception. To which Callum shot back, 'are we going to build it then?' Dr Speth's response was a broad smile and a sharp exit, but Jaguar has to build this car. The SUV segment continues to mushroom, and the graceful and classical C-X17 has a very different feel from the more geometric and modernist Range Rovers. After all, why have just one slice of the pie?