Five Minutes on the C-X16 with Jaguar's Adrian Hallmark, Ralf Speth, and Andy Goss

Jaguar has long been know for its designs, but has had some real knockouts one after the other in the past few years in the forms of the C-XF, C-X75, and C-X16 concepts, and the XF and XJ production cars. We were able to sit down with Jaguar Global Brand Director Adrian Hallmark and his colleagues Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar/Land Rover, and Andy Goss, the head of Jaguar Land Rover North America. We picked their brains about their most recent -- and stunning -- concept car, the C-X16.

Automobile Magazine: Timing on the C-X16?

Hallmark: We haven't made a decision yet.

AM: What's the soonest?

H: The decision? We could make it today, but the project is at least a couple of years away. We've done a lot of development work around the concept, but there's a lot more to do.

AM: Is this a 911 competitor?

H: No, it's a Jaguar. If you took the hybrid and all the technology out and had a supercharged V-6, that could be priced, roughly, somewhere between the top of Porsche Cayman R and the bottom of 911. So, less than a 911, but more than a Cayman.

AM: Do you want to introduce it with the hybrid, and then bring in other powertrains later?

H: No, I think we wanted to debut the concept with this powertrain, because we've actually learned a lot from working on the CX-75 (2010 Paris Motor Show supercar concept). One example is, we've got air-conditioned batteries, what that does in terms of power extraction and efficiency of the batteries is incredible. We've got, with another battery partner, a patented technology that's in this C-X16 concept, but it came from the CX-75 research work. So, we've also learned about how to integrate the motor, the engine, and the power control systems, huge amounts of coding, with lots of bench testing and development work [on the CX-75].

AM: So those two cars might go in lockstep toward production?

H: We wanted to present an innovative, relevant performance powertrain for the future. Anybody can make a car look beautiful....not quite as well as [Jaguar design director] Ian Callum can....but to have something with that design appeal, and that technical substance, for us was important, to get Jaguar back into consideration as a modern, technically driven, innovative, engineering-led company that can design the most beautiful cars in the world.

AM: So when the C-X16 goes on sale, it could start with a conventional powertrain, and is more likely to have a conventional powertrain?

H: Absolutely. But this hybrid powertrain is totally feasible, but not as quickly as the car could be built.

Speth: I think it will change Jaguar the brand itself. For me, Jaguar is a sport oriented brand and company. Thinking back to the 50s, when Jaguar was first in the market with disc brakes, and the E-type. This DNA of Jaguar can best be shown in a sports car.

Goss: It's not going to drive massive volume, but it drives our image. It's totally credible from a style and design perspective; people can see that it is clearly a Jaguar. So it provides a very young image which will provide a halo. From the U.S. perspective, it's absolutely important that we make a very strong business case for the car.

It looks better from the rear 3/4 view where you can't see the nose which looks like a Nissan 350Z. The car feels unbalanced. The nose is too long, the trunk is too short. It's all about the proportions. I hope they'll put the 5 liter V8 in it as the top engine like in the SLK AMG. But I'm glad Jaguar is expanding its model range.

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