Jaguar will decide “soon” whether to go ahead with the C-X16 sports car unveiled as a concept at last fall’s 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, global brand director Adrian Hallmark told Inside Line. If approved, the production version is likely to appear late in 2014 as a 2015 model.
The decision should be a shoo-in given Hallmark’s opinion that “Jaguar without a sports car is like Porsche without a 911.”
In an interview here at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, Hallmark considers the C-X16 crucial to burnishing Jaguar’s image in readiness for the eventual launch of a model to compete with the BMW 3 Series, a model considered vital if Jaguar is to enjoy serious expansion over the next decade.
Hallmark says the C-X16 will be priced between the Porsche Cayman R and the base 911 Carrera, where he believes significant sales opportunities lie, although he acknowledges the total global market for models like this is small, accounting for only 70,000 units of a 70-million global car market.
The company has just completed four months of market research and clinic work with 800 respondents to confirm the car’s market positioning, and has come away “highly encouraged” by their reaction to the car.
In terms of driving character, Hallmark suggests that the C-X16 “will start where the XKR-S stops,” and will be “extremely precise, though not brutal.”
The C-X16 is based on a cut-down version of the current XK’s aluminum platform. Hallmark says current C-X16 prototypes weigh around 440 pounds less than the XK, an important reduction when it comes to performance, dynamics and fuel consumption.
Besides coupe and cabriolet versions, there will also be a high-performance equivalent to Porsche’s 911 GT3, although Hallmark is not revealing the order in which these models appear. The hybrid version revealed at the car’s unveiling will come later, but Hallmark is promising strong performance, especially for the money, from all versions.
The C-X16’s arrival will allow the next-generation XK to be positioned further upmarket. Jaguar’s experience with the recently introduced XKR-S suggests that there is “no resistance to a $140,000 XK,” says Hallmark, who adds that the next car will be more of a GT and provide seating for four adults, in contrast to today’s cramped XK coupe.
In more mainstream developments, Jaguar is prioritizing the development of a BMW 3 Series competitor. Hallmark believes that offering a car that’s slightly different — and more desirable — will allow it to charge slightly more, enabling it to successfully compete with the rival German models that enjoy considerable scale economies.
This car Jaguar considers more important than offering a crossover, especially given its history of offering sedans, although the crossover remains a possibility. And engineering it would be considerably eased by the availability of Land Rover hardware.
“It’s not the first priority, and not the last,” says Hallmark, although he admits that a crossover would provide plenty of opportunity in the emerging BRIC markets where Jaguar is fast expanding. In China, the biggest of these, it is exploring a joint manufacturing venture with Chery.
Hallmark says Jaguar will take six major new product actions over the next two years, with these defined as an all-new car, a face-lift or a new powertrain. In addition to the C-X16, there will likely be an XJ face-lift and a high-performance version of the XF, among other offerings.
The company’s new modular engine range is further off, however, and the continued use of Ford-derived engines will delay the arrival of hybrid powertrains, there being little point in developing this hardware for aging power units from Jaguar’s former parent.
Source : Insideline