Since the beginning of this year Jaguar Land Rover has been making loud noises about “driving breakthroughs in product development”, to quote CEO Ralf Speth.
Stop right there: Just imagine something a little smaller than a XF, all in aluminium like the new XJ and with that car's muscular front treatment, built around Jaguar's proven five-litre, supercharged V8.
Be afraid, M3 drivers, be very afraid.
The V8 ball-breaker is just wishful thinking on our part but, hidden in a dark corner of the Jaguar Land Rover skunk works, there's something a lot more radical - Jaguar's first crossover.
Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark has admitted that the car exists but says its chances of being signed off for production are no better than 50/50.
If it does get the green light, it'll hit the market around 2016, aimed at fuelling “geographical growth” (Hallmark's words) in non-traditional Jaguar markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.
But nobody at Jaguar will say what it's based on.
The most likely scenario is that it will share a modular aluminium platform with the planned new compact sedan. That'll give Jaguar a pigeon pair, much like the BMW 3 Series and X3, based on the same lightweight architecture - but with a huge advantage in that, although the premium market will never accept a front-wheel Jaguar sedan, the success of the FWD Evoque (and much of its engineering) could be translated into an all-aluminium entry-level crossover that would score in a marketplace defined by conventional steel-bodied offerings.
SPORTIER THAN ANY RANGE ROVER
Jaguar is also known to be preparing an all-wheel drive transmission for the current XF and XJ. Forget about the XF - its steel architecture is regarded by the Jaguar boffins as old school - but a full-size SUV, based on the XJ platform, lower-slung and sportier than even a Range Rover Sport, could compete very effectively against the Porsche Cayenne, X5M and Q7.
It would, however, be just as expensive, which is why an X3 rival is more likely to get the green light. But whichever approach Jaguar chooses, we can expect to see a radically high-wasted body shell with crisp, aggressive lines taken from the C-X16 sports car concept.