A new generation of Jaguar model names will be introduced at the New York motor show later today when the company confirms production of a £50k-plus two-seat sports car based on the C-X16 concept.
The name of the new car remains top secret, but Autocar understands it will be announced at a press conference at the New York motor show at around 17.30 UK time tonight.
The New York announcement will also confirm that the new sports car will initially be sold as an open-top two-seater, rather than in the coupé form of the C-X16 concept. It should go on sale in mid-2013.
The decision to launch a roadster first is believed to be because Jaguar is keen to get the car to market as soon as possible. A coupé is expected to follow around a year later.
The powertrain for the launch vehicle is expected be a 375bhp, 332lb ft supercharged 3.0-litre V6 mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox. The V6 is new and has been developed from the latest V8, partly to give the company an entry-level, tax-busting engine in China.
In New York, Jaguar will also emphasise again that the two-seater will feature a stiffer chassis tune and crisper steering than the larger XK 2+2 to make it more of a focused driver’s car. Previously, global brand director Adrian Hallmark has commented that the driving manners of the two-seater will start where the XKR-S, the most driver-focused XK, stops.
The introduction of new names signals the overhaul of a system that stretches back to the era of Jaguar co-founder Sir William Lyons, and which has become increasingly confused as the marque’s model range has expanded.
The new naming strategy will solve a significant problem for the manufacturer - which previous owner Ford also grappled with - that the number of X-plus-a-letter combinations available is
much too limited.
Some, such as XD, which was floated as a possible moniker for the stillborn early-2000s mid-engined two-seater, sound more like a diesel designation, while XS is already a well used trim level. The logic of the system is also compromised by Jaguar’s flagship saloon, the XJ, which sits in the middle of the alphabet, limiting the number of letters for other models.
That’s why, with Ford in control, the ‘S-type’ name was resurrected from the 1960s and why the Mondeo-based small saloon had to be the X-type.
Hallmark told Autocar last year that the previous naming system deterred some new customers, particularly those in China and other emerging markets, but owner Tata and the new JLR management team have finally addressed the problem.