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Geneva show: Bertone previews Jaguar future

Jaguar mid-sizer: Bertone-designed B99 shows Jaguar's direction on its next medium sedan.

Bertone’s Geneva concept moves Jaguar forward in its quest for BMW 3 Series rival

21 Feb 2011

ITALIAN design house Bertone has unveiled its vision of a future compact Jaguar sedan ahead of next week’s Geneva motor show.

Said to have been created in conjunction with the Tata-owned luxury brand, and dubbed B99 (to celebrate Bertone’s 99th anniversary), the Geneva debutante is most probably a glimpse into Jaguar’s next BMW 3 Series combatant due by 2014.

As well as the car pictured, a GT2 racing version with high-speed aero appendages and aggressive graphics will also be unveiled in Geneva.

At 4.5 metres long, the Bertone concept conforms to the D-segment, furthering speculation that this will indeed be Jaguar’s barometer for another tilt at the class it failed to crack with the slow-selling X-Type from 2001 to 2010.

Unlike the more fastback style of the new XJ and XF models, the B99 is a surprising return to unmistakably ‘British’ Jaguar styling themes, with apparent influences from the original XJ Series 1 and E-Type.

Only the slit-like headlights and prominent ovoid grille relate to the current XJ and XF.

6 center imageTop: Jaguar Bertone 99 concept. Bottom: Jaguar X-Type, the brand's last small-medium sedan.

“Jaguar is looking at a new design direction and a small car — and we think this is the right style, with a very light glasshouse and the visual weight concentrated onto the wheels,” Bertone design director Mike Robinson told Britain’s Autocar magazine.

“Our B99 is definitely not a fastback. We think the fastback lifts the body volume too high above the rear wheels. Jags have always had the weight concentrated on the wheels.”

However, Mr Robinson denied the B99 is a retro design.

“I’m an anti-retroist,” he said. “This is not an old classic design. It’s a new classic.”

Autocar revealed that former Rover and Rolls-Royce designer Adrian Griffiths worked on the project as part of the Bertone team briefed by Jaguar design chief Ian Callum and advanced design boss Julian Thomson.

Bertone hopes to formally present its designs to Jaguar after the Geneva show.

Underneath the aluminium body with its Mazda RX8-style rear-hinged back doors is believed to be a full hybrid powertrain created by the ‘Bertone Energy’ division – the company’s newly established renewable energy research arm.

The still-secret interior reportedly features Apple iPad-inspired visual and operational simplicity (to match the exterior theme of uncluttered style), along with Italian leather, brushed aluminium and high-gloss wood from Africa.

The B99 is Bertone’s fifth Jaguar concept in 54 years, having previously produced anXK 150 concept in 1957 (four of which were built), followed by the 1966 FT, 1967 Pirana and 1977 Ascot show cars.

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