With carbon-fiber components, an aluminum chassis, a hybrid drivetrain, and stunning aluminum body work, the Jaguar C-X16 concept is one of the most dramatic debuts at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show. The official word is that the C-X16 is simply a way for Jaguar to demonstrate its future design and technology plans, but there are strong hints this car may make it to production. "The C-X16 is our compelling vision for a 21st century Jaguar sports car," said Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark. "It delivers an irresistible proposition on both emotional and rational levels."
The Jaguar C-X16 is a traditional two-seat, rear-wheel-drive coupe. The styling could be likened to a scaled-down Jaguar XK, and also shows hints of design from the XF and XJ. A long hood slopes into the car's nose and gaping front grille. Big creases extend along the car's sides and into its muscular rear shoulders -- broad, rounded haunches are a Jaguar coupe signature. The roofline slopes fastback-style toward a tail that narrows slightly. Jaguar describes the car's profile as exhibiting a "double coke-bottle" curve and says the tail mimics an airplane wing.
The car is Jaguar's shortest lengthwise since the XK120 of the 1950s, and is about a foot shorter than the current XK range. The C-X16 measures 175 inches long, 81 inches wide, and 51 inches tall -- approximately on par with the dimensions of a Nissan 370Z. Curb weight is a claimed 3520 pounds.
The brash 21-inch wheels have carbon-fiber inserts, and the subtle front fender vents conceal a red-painted mesh. The car's door handles are recessed into the bodywork, emerging only when the driver or passenger touch sensors on the doors. The front splitter, side skirts, and rear diffuser are all made from carbon fiber and contribute to better aerodynamic performance.
Beneath the elegant metal is a hybrid powertrain headlined by a 3.0-liter, all-aluminum V-6 engine that is supercharged and direct-injected. A derivative of Jaguar's V-8 engines, the V-6 produces 374 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. It is coupled to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission and has Intelligent Stop/Start to reduce fuel consumption.
The transmission is fitted with an electric motor-generator, making the C-X16 a hybrid. The motor can produce as much as 94 hp and 173 lb-ft, storing electrical power in a 1.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted behind the car's rear seats. When the battery is fully charged, the driver can depress a "Push to Pass" button (it's red with a lightning-bolt symbol) on the steering wheel to receive the electric motor's full assist for up to ten seconds.
The drivetrain provides commendable acceleration, with 62 mph arriving in a claimed 4.4 seconds and maximum speed limited to 186 mph. Moreover, Jaguar claims the C-X16 would return the equivalent of about 34 mpg. It can drive at up to 50 mph on electrical power alone.
The driver and his or her passenger sit in a cabin filled with Vermillion Red leather, carbon fiber, and machined aluminum trim. Much of the interior design was inspired by that of aircraft, so the shift lever looks like a fighter-jet joystick and many switches are machined toggles. There even is an Intelligent Venting System which rapidly cools or heats the car's interior: a vent, styled after fighter-jet air intakes, rises out of the dashboard to provide a blast of hot or cold air, then recedes back into the dash. Carbon fiber is used for the seat braces, center console, and even some parts of the dashboard.
Jaguar's signature twin-gauge instrument cluster is hidden behind smoked glass so as to be invisible when the car is off. The rotary climate-control knobs have tiny displays which change to reflect varying purposes of the knobs: adjusting the air conditioning temperature, the seat heater, or myriad other choices. Jaguar's touch-screen infotainment system also has been revamped, now featuring physical shortcut buttons to reach certain menu functions.
The C-X16 is certainly an alluring concept car, but will it ever go on sale? The level of detail contained in this concept, and its lack of frivolous details, make it seem feasible that Jaguar could put a car based on the C-X16 into production. Even if a hybrid sports coupe like this never arrives in dealerships, the evolution of Jaguar's styling language and underlying powertrain technology will inspire future products. Based on what we see here, that's good news.