Jaguar’s new C-Type on the prowl

2 Jun, 2009 11:26am Sam Hardy

British baby aims to KO Porsche Boxster as Jaguar cashes in on growing roadster market

It’s the sports car that every Jaguar fan has been desperate to see! This is the Big Cat’s all-new rival for Porsche’s Boxster – a compact two-seat roadster that promises performance and style at an affordable price.

Evoking memories of the legendary C-Type, it will lead a new wave of driver-focused machines, taking the firm into uncharted – but potentially very successful – territory. The compact sports market is huge and, as well as the Boxster, rivals include the Audi TT, BMW Z4 (tested on Page 50), Nissan 370Z and Mercedes SLK: Jaguar needs a slice of the action.

Drawing on the XK range’s strong following, the newcomer will feature head-turning styling and a thrilling rear-drive chassis. With a sub-£40,000 price tag, it’s a real recipe for success.

Ratan Tata, boss of Indian giant Tata Motors, which owns Jaguar-Land Rover, has made no secret of his desire for Jaguar to expand its sports car line-up – and this could be vital to securing the firm’s future. Thanks to insider information, we can give you the best view yet of how the machine could look.

It’s clear that the new model evolves cues from the XF such as the bold mesh grille, sharpened LED headlights and bonnet power bulge, making them more aggressive and sporty. Short overhangs, a steeply raked windscreen and muscular rear haunches are further highlights. The look is completed by a pert rear with slim tail-lights, an XF-style chrome strip and integrated chrome exhausts. In short, the vehicle takes the traditional British roadster shape and makes it completely modern.

As with the XK, the new sports car would use an aluminium monocoque with extruded body panels to maximise weight-saving and structural stiffness. A strict two-seater, it would feature an electrically operated folding canvas roof, to be stowed behind the occupants’ heads.

Under the bonnet there will be a wide range of engines all taken from the XF, with an entry-level 235bhp 3.0-litre V6 version and a 380bhp 5.0 V8 flagship. There’s also scope to offer the XF’s latest 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel, which boasts 272bhp and the prospect of 40mpg. All models will feature Jaguar’s excellent six-speed automatic gearbox, complete with steering wheel-mounted paddles.

With such a lightweight chassis, even the entry-level 3.0-litre V6 will be enormously fast, boasting a 0-60mph time of around seven seconds. The 5.0-litre V8 version could slash two seconds off that sprint and accelerate on to 155mph.

As the XF has shown, Jag’s talented engineers can produce a saloon that corners like a sportster but offers a cosseting ride. So making a purer driver-pleasing roadster should be a task they will relish. But while the car will be agile, responsive and sporty to drive, it also promises to be extremely comfortable.

Of course, the firm is not without its problems: together with Tata, it is currently trying to secure financial assistance from the UK Government. And that means the new XJ saloon plus a forthcoming XF estate, as well as a convertible version of that car, are its priorities for now.

This Boxster rival, along with a replacement for the legendary E-Type and an Audi R8-style supercar, are on the drawing board, though, and would arrive in 2012 at the earliest.

AEX 1337
For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to Auto Express - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you 6 issues for £1 and a free gift!

Sponsored Links