Jaguar has been showing off a hybrid-powered, front-engine sports car concept, called the Jaguar C-X16, expected to be produced in 2014. Jaguar has yet to state publicly that they will build this car, but the brand needs a new sports car to carry forward its sporting heritage. Versions touring the auto show circuit carry no obvious signs the car is just a styling exercise, and we have every reason to believe it will be produced.
A foot shorter, an inch lower, the same width and 250 pounds lighter than an XK, the C-X16 is small only by Jaguar standards and a genuine two-seater. E-type cues can be found if you look deep and stretch enough to cover the 50-year span since that car's debut, including the single-element headlamps, hood louvers, and voluptuous fenders. The hatch that opens sideways and lack of superfluous wings and spoilers are clearer reminders.
The lithe C-X16 is built primarily of aluminum with carbon fiber accents. Twenty-one inch rubber-band tires may turn into 18s or 19s, but the C-X16 could probably look good on farm implement rubber.
Your first look in the cabin might say Audi R8: the layout is very similar. With modern toggles, glass panels and reconfigurable displays, it's all very modern and suggestive. Surfaces include a honeycomb-pattern leather and suede, used extensively from floor to ceiling. And while many cars have buttons on the steering wheel spokes and paddles behind, the C-X16 paddles are red and the button is on the rim for your right thumb.
This is push-to-pass, modeled after the energy recovery system, called KERS, on recent Formula One racing cars. A compact lithium-ion battery pack and transmission-mounted electric-motor add 93 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque for 10 seconds. This is in addition to the 375-hp supercharged V6 derived from the XK and XF V8. With an 8-speed automatic and start/stop, Jaguar promises 0-60 mph in less than 4.4 seconds, 50-75 mph in 2.1, up to 50 mph on electric alone at very light throttle, and fuel economy averaging near 35 mpg. Top speed is listed as limited to 186 mph but doesn't specify if the limiting is electronic or merely aero drag and mechanical resistance.
Few particulars are out on suspension though it looks to be independent as all Jags have been for decades. With perfect weight distribution and Jaguar's credentials it should make an excellent Grand Touring car, if not a lightweight sports car.