Former BMW insider bullish on Jaguar crossover

Former BMW product development boss Wolfgang Ziebart sees a lot of potential in Jaguar's C-X17 crossover concept.

"I think a [BMW] X5 or [Audi] Q7 owner might be tempted to have this car," said Ziebart, who is now Jaguar's group engineering director.

The C-X17, Jaguar's first sports crossover concept, was unveiled in Frankfurt Monday night on the eve of auto show here. The crossover is underpinned by the same new aluminum architecture that Jaguar will use for its forthcoming mid-sized car, which will challenge models such as the BMW 3 series and 5 series.

"I think we've positioned ourselves very well with this architecture," Ziebart said in an interview on the sidelines of the event.

He said the architecture is flexible enough to provide customers with segment-busting vehicles that are great on the highway but can also handle any weather or terrain.

He added that a Jaguar crossover based on the concept wouldn't compete at all against the Range Rover or Range Rover Sport from sister brand Land Rover.

Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum said in an interview that the British brand's customers are open to the automaker entering the crossover segment.

"The response is: Why not? Everyone else is doing it," Callum said.

BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Porsche have had great success with their crossovers, which have drawn new buyers and added incremental sales volume.

The C-X17, Jaguar's first sports crossover concept, was unveiled in Frankfurt Monday night.

Ziebart, Callum and Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar's global brand director, were quick to point out that the automaker has not committed to building a crossover based on the concept, which is bigger than the popular Evoque from sister brand Range Rover.

Hallmark said in an interview that the next big task for Jaguar is making sure that its new mid-sized car is ready to roll out by 2015.

But you can bet Hallmark, Callum, Ziebart and the whole Jaguar team are counting the days until they can announce that they are ready to unleash the brand's first production crossover.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at -- Follow Douglas A. on Twitter: BolducANE2014

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