Fifty years after the E-Type redefined desirability, a successor has arrived. Jaguar has revealed its most important new model for a generation – a stunning two-seat Porsche Cayman rival that blends the brand’s foundations of beauty and performance with cutting-edge hybrid technology.
It’s called the C-X16, as it’s the 16th project design director Ian Callum and his team have worked on. And the newcomer is already being labelled by Jaguar staff as a production concept.
Our sources have revealed that it will go on sale, in roadster and coupe bodystyles, in a little over a year from now. The C-X16 will make its world debut at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, but Auto Express got up close with it in a studio weeks before the public unveil.
While the beautiful proportions speak for themselves, what lies beneath requires a little more explanation. Mounted up front is a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 producing 375bhp and 450Nm of torque. This new
engine is a cut-down version of the 5.0-litre V8 already found in the XFR, XKR and XJ Supersports, and it features the latest direct-injection technology as well as a twin-vortex supercharger for more precise boost control and lower fuel consumption.
Supplementing the V6 is an electric motor, producing 95bhp and 235Nm of torque. This is bolted to the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, and draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack behind the seats.
The motor has three jobs: to assist the petrol engine and improve fuel economy; to provide an electric-only mode for short distances but with a top speed of 50mph; and primarily to let drivers live out their Formula One fantasies by delivering an extra burst of power when it’s required. The latter is similar to the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) fitted to grand prix racers. A graphic lights up on the dash
display when the batteries have sufficient charge and the power boost is available. All the driver has to do is hit the ‘push to pass’ button, and the C-X16 provides an additional slug of torque for up to 10 seconds.
Jaguar’s official figures are 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed limited to 186mph. Yet fuel consumption is quoted at an amazing 41mpg combined, while the car claims 165g/km CO2 emissions – numbers helped by the inclusion of the stop-start system seen on the XF 2.2D.
To give you an idea of where the C-X16 will sit in the sports car hierarchy, it’s 98mm shorter than the Porsche Cayman, at 4,445mm, and a full 349mm shorter than its XK big brother.
Yet remarkably, it’s at least 150mm wider than the XK, 911, Cayman and Aston Martin V8 Vantage, as well as lower than all but the Aston. Callum told us: “Of all the Jaguars I’ve ever designed, this is the one I want to own most.”
And it’s easy to see why. The C-X16 makes use of the firm’s current design language, so it sits neatly next to the XJ, XF and XK. But the rounded-off grille is taken from the C-X75 concept, as are the tail-lights, which extend around the corners of the car.
Distinguishing the front end are twin air intakes either side of the grille, while at the rear, a wide, flat deck is another element seen on the C-X75. Beautifully crafted 21-inch alloys, with carbon fibre fins, fill the arches, and red LED lighting on the front flanks adds a splash of colour to the gunmetal paintwork. Callum couldn’t resist a nod towards the E-Type, either, in the shape of the side-hinged
rear screen, which exposes the hybrid module and a load deck.
In an attempt to improve the aerodynamics, the machined aluminium door handles sit flush with the bodywork, but pop out when they sense the motion of your hand. No wings or spoilers clutter the bodywork – downforce is provided by a subtle front splitter, a rear diffuser and side sills.
All these parts are made of carbon fibre – but most of the credit for keeping the car’s kerbweight down to 1,600kg (60kg lighter than the XK) goes to the aluminium chassis and bodywork.
Carbon is also found inside the car. It’s used on the dash, and as a spine to reinforce the ultra-light composite seats. Plus, a carbon bracing bar flows from the centre console before splitting in two and bolting to the rear suspension to boost rigidity. Bright red leather and Alcantara cover the seats, dash and headlining, while a joystick-like gearlever and toggle switches reflect classic racing Jaguars.
To give the top of the dash a clean look, a unique double vent system is hidden until the climate control decides it’s needed – at which point it pops up and gives what Jag calls “an intense blast of hot or cold air to rapidly alter the cabin temperature”, before sinking down. Other novelties include multifunction dials (see opposite). It all adds up to an exciting package. Expect the C-X16 to go on sale next year, priced at around £50,000.