The new Jaguar C-X16 – which may become the Jaguar XE – gets revealed ahead of Frankfurt, complete with hybrid powertrain.
We’ve known the new small sports car from Jaguar – which may or may not become the Jaguar XE – was heading for Frankfurt for some time. Especially after we had teases of the Concept version – the Jaguar C-X16 – a few weeks ago.
So it was no surprise when we had a heap of new photos and a video of the C-X16 drop in to our inbox at midnight. What was a surprise was that it seems, in many ways, to be a blast from the past.
Not a blast from the past in that the new C-X16 is the new E-Type for the 21st century - which is what we were expecting – but that the C-X16 seems to be a car rooted much more firmly in Jaguar’s recent past – the design seems to be a take on the familiar feel of established Jaguars.
There’s nothing wrong with that – many would say it’s good to have an identifiable brand – but it doesn’t move the game on for Jaguar in the way the XJ did or, indeed, the way The E-type did 50 years ago. Although there is one nod to the E-Type in the way the rear hatch opens.
Which feels like a lost opportunity; it would have been great to see a Jaguar that stirred the soul and pointed to the future, rather than one which just looked good.
And it does look good, this new small sport car, even if it looks good in a very generic Jaguar kind of way.
But if the looks of the new Jaguar sports car are a little underwhelming, what’s under the skin – and in the cabin – is much more interesting.
The C-X16 Concept is powered by a new supercharged V6, basically a chopped down AJ-V8, producing 375bhp and 332lb/ft of torque. But the interesting bit is that the C-X16 comes with an electric motor built in to the 8-speed gearbox which kicks in an extra 92bhp and 173lb/ft of torque, brought in to play by a KERS-style ‘Push to Pass’ button.
Throw all the combined power at the wheels at once and the C-X16 can get to 62mph in very impressive 4.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 183mph. It can also manage the 50-75mph lunge in a very credible 2.1 seconds.
The electric motor can even run the C-X16 in pure electric mode – albeit in a rather pedestrian fashion – at speeds up to 50mph for at least a few feet.
Power for the electric motor comes from a 1.6kw lithium-ion battery pack that lives behind the seats – the Jaguar C-X16 is a pure two-seater – and its location helps contribute to a perfect 50:50 weight distribution, and gets charged by the KERS energy recovery system built in to the back axle.
What all that adds up to – apart from the cracking performance – is a Jaguar sports car that emits just 165g/km CO2 and will - although Jaguar don’t give us any figures – have the potential to be very frugal when you’re not busy wringing every ounce of performance out of it round the twisty stuff.
And it’s not just under the skin that Jaguar has moved its game on; the interior is what we’d love to see in the XK (and probably will when the new XK arrives).
A proper two-seater with no pointless vestigial seats in the back (which probably won’t go down too well with many of our Colonial Cousins). the XE has a proper, driver-oriented, wrap-around cocoon feel about it.
Interestingly, Jaguar has dumped the rotary gear lever for the C-X16, reverting back to a more conventional gear stick. Which is no bad thing for a car that looks as if it will involve the driver fully. There’s nothing quite like shifting with a gear lever instead of a button – even in an automatic – and that joy returns in the C-X16.
What we will say is that the Jaguar C-X16 looks very production-ready. There are a few concept-y bits about the car, but it doesn’t look far from production-ready to us.
What does seem clear is that the hybrid gubbins in the C-X16 will be the halo setup for a production XE. The new V6 will be the default fitting - perhaps even an option without the supercharger - and there will definitely be a 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel too.
And despite some antipathy about the look of the new C-X16, it’s the right car for Jaguar to be building. Based on the next generation XK (which will no doubt look just like a C-X16 on steroids) it is light, powerful and frugal.
Take out the disappointment over the lack of design innovation, and it’s a great looking car with so much to offer. A sports car with soul, performance and a decent ride is exactly where Jaguar should be, and the C-X16 appears to offer all of that – and more.
We just wished it looked more like a Jaguar of tomorrow, instead of a Jaguar of today.
Jaguar C-X16 Photo Gallery
(45 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)
Jaguar C-X16 Video