This Jaguar C-X16 concept is a strict two-seater that confirms the company's intention to put an $80,000 Porsche 911 rival into production late next year.
Set to make its world debut at next week's Frankfurt motor show, the 14.5ft.-long C-X16 not only heralds the arrival of a stand-alone driver's car for the brand, but its hybrid drivetrain and new exterior and interior design language also give clear indications about Jaguar's future direction.
“Expressing lightness” is said to be a new mission statement for the Jaguar design team. The C-X16 is built around the next-generation aluminum XK platform, but with a shorter (103in.) wheelbase. Its hybrid drivetrain helps it to sprint to 62mph from standstill in just 4.4sec and on to a top speed limited to 186mph. It also can cover the 50-75mph sprint in just 2.1sec. An IndyCar-style "push to pass" button mounted on the steering wheel allows access to the extra boost, which gives the driver 10 seconds of maximum power.
The drivetrain is based around a new front-mounted, supercharged 3.0-liter V6, which develops 375hp and 332lb-ft of torque. The engine is a modular development of Jaguar's current AJ-V8, using the same block architecture and quad-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder head design made of recycled aluminum.
This EU6-compliant engine features second-generation direct injection, a higher 10.5:1 compression ratio and a sixth-generation Rootes-type supercharger. The upshot is an impressive specific output of 127hp per liter.
The engine gets Jaguar's new Twin Solenoid Starter stop-start system and is hooked up to a new version of the familiar ZF eight-speed auto gearbox with an integrated electric motor. This new engine – which is expected to appear in other Jaguar Land Rover vehicles before the end of next year – features a patented system of “independently rotating balancer shaft weights” at both ends of the engine. This counters one of the biggest issues with downsizing engines: the loss of refinement as the number of cylinders is reduced.
In pure electric mode, using the 95hp, 173lb-ft electric motor, the C-X16 can travel at up to 50mph for short distances, drawing on the small 1.6kWh battery pack situated behind the seats. The combination of a downsized engine, electric motor assist and stop-start gives the C-X16 CO2 emissions of just 165g/km. The battery is recharged via a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) arrangement incorporated into the back axle.
Jaguar isn't saying much about the under-skin architecture of the C-X16, but the production car will be based on the aluminum structure that also underpins today's XK.
Unlike the XJ sedan's structure, which is made substantially of pressed aluminum sheets, the XK uses a pair of large aluminum extrusions that make up the sill structures and underpin the A- and B-pillars. These sills are crucial to making the open-top XK's structure rigid, but they are also a reason why the car is not as lightweight as might be expected. Jaguar estimates that the C-X16 – including the hybrid system – weighs 3,527lbs. By contrast, the new 991-series 911 Carrera, which is almost identical in length and 0-62mph performance, weighs just 3086lbs.
The C-X16 platform is said to have been “future-proofed” to accommodate a wide range of powertrains, including a V8 and even, say sources, a turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid engine.
The C-X16's styling is a break with recent Jaguar practice and is described by design chief Ian Callum as being “designed from first principles…an evolution of the design ethos of past Jaguars.” He said: “It defines an agenda for a future of dramatic, innovative sports cars.”
The car's skin is said to wrap the mechanicals and bodywork “as tightly as possible” and the shape is defined by three "heartlines": the front wing crease, the rear haunches that wrap into the tail and the sweeping roof line. The concept rides on 21in. wheels, which are tipped to be offered on the production version.
The use of the trapezoidal grille and more angular headlamps distances the C-X16 from the ovoid graphics that defined the E-type. The slim, wraparound rear lights – also seen on the C-X75 – have a trace of original E-type, but the side-hinged rear screen makes the clearest hint at Jaguar's icon.
Perhaps the biggest break with Jaguar's recent past comes with the two-seat interior (described by Jaguar as a “one-plus-one” layout). The dashboard architecture moves away from the company's usual approach by creating a wraparound, driver-centric design that “deliberately creates as cocooned and cosseting a space as possible.” Much of the interior inspiration comes from modern aircraft cockpit design. The “unadorned” dash-top houses a double vent, inspired by the intakes on a Typhoon jet fighter, that deploys to provide blasts of hot and cold air as required.
Pushing the starter button kicks off an “aircraft-inspired” sequence in which the center console displays light up in a cascading sequence from top to bottom. These TFT screens are hidden until they are lit. Unlike in the XJ, the main instruments are real dials but hidden behind a smoked glass panel. A conventional gear lever has made a reappearance, as has chunky, machined switchgear. Each of the rotary heating controls has a miniature smartphone-style OLED display.
Carbon fiber reinforces both the dramatic sports seats and the bracing bar, which runs from the rear of the center console, splitting into two and bolting to the rear suspension towers. The cabin is trimmed in Alcantara, with a floor finished in aluminum and black leather.