Jaguar's new C-X17 SUV needs to be sporty to drive on road more than it needs to be capable off road, according to one of the firm's directors.
With sister company Land Rover's brilliant off-roaders in the same stable, it was always going to be hard to create a pumped-up Jaguar – but Phil Popham, group marketing director for Jaguar Land Rover, says that can be done but it's all about how it performs.
"It needs to be brilliant to drive on the road and not necessarily all that capable off it," he explained. "Land Rover does that very well already. If the C-X17 gets the go ahead it needs to capture the essence of Jaguar."
Although not currently slated for production, there's little doubt the "concept" – unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show – will join the Jaguar range in the very near future.
Jaguar is quick to point out that the C-X17 currently just showcases what its new aluminium monocoque platform is capable of. That platform's first real task will be underpinning a smaller saloon to sit below the XF.
However, the Ian Callum-designed C-X17 seems to capture the sporty spirit of the brand perfectly and Jaguar will be judging reaction to the car closely.
"We've struggled a lot internally with the concept of an SUV as it's vital it encapsulates what the Jaguar brand stands for, and that's all about being sporty," explained Popham.
"When you look at what Porsche has done with the Cayenne it can be done – sports credentials can be carried by an SUV, but they didn't get it right first time. We need to get this right."
The platform on which the C-X17 sits will spawn a range of "accessibly-priced" Jaguars in the future. First will be a C/D segment saloon capable of a top speed of more than 180mph to rival the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 – a car that's been lacking in the Jaguar line up since the ill-fated X-Type bit the dust.
But currently it's only the C-X17 that's on show. After viewing it from several angles up close it's surprisingly longer and lower than the pictures suggest. There are hints of Infiniti FX and BMW X6 in it too, and we all know those haven't been incredible sales hits. However, equally, there are some beautiful design touches, like the slanted headlights, bulging bonnet and sleek rear.
What would make this Jaguar successful? Well, in our opinion, price would need to be keen, and it would have to appeal to buyers who want a driver's car. One thing is for sure, though, Callum's design really has hit the mark yet again.
What do you think of the Jaguar SUV concept? Should they make it? Or should the brand stay away from off-roaders all together? Let us know by posting your comments below.
Click play below to watch footage of the C-X17 at Frankfurt (with thanks to Motors.co.uk)