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Paris show: Jaguar is back in the supercar game

Cutting edge: Not just a styling exercise, the C-X75 also features an experimental powertrain with miniature gas turbines that generate enough electricity to extend battery range from 110km to 900km.

Jaguar steals the Paris limelight with its C-X75 plug-in hybrid supercar concept

30 Sep 2010

ANY doubts over whether Jaguar was travelling at the same speed as its European rivals in areas such as advanced sportscar design, cutting-edge technology and high-but-sustainable performance were smashed to smithereens at the Paris motor show today when the hallowed British marque presented its stunning C-X75 electrified supercar concept.

Although the Tata Motors-owned company claims the show car was simply created to celebrate its 75th anniversary, the C-X75 points to a new design language for the famous brand and, with its production orientation, demonstrates Jaguar’s desire to become a force among supercar marques and to return to a place it has not occupied since the short-lived (1992-94) XJ220 – a mid-engined 404kW twin-turbocharged V6 supercar built in collaboration with Tom Walkinshaw Racing.

6 center imageKey to this is the 1350kg AWD C-X75’s experimental powertrain, which includes four 145kW electric motors – one for each wheel – that produce a total power output of 580kW (and no less than 1600Nm of torque), setting up a power-to-weight ratio of 431kW/tonne.

This is not a pure electric vehicle, but a unique range-extending plug-in hybrid that works in conjunction with two small, lightweight (35kg) gas turbines that each produce 70kW of power at a constant 80,000rpm and can generate enough electricity to increase the car’s driving range from 110km on battery power alone to 900km.

According to Jaguar, the miniaturised turbine blade – which was developed in partnership with Bladon Jets and is said to be the first viable axial-flow micro-turbine – increases the compression and efficiency of micro gas turbines “to the point at which they can be viewed as a realistic power source”.

They can also be run on a range of fuels including diesel, biofuels, compressed natural gas (CNG) and LPG.

Performance-wise, the figures Jaguar has quoted for its supercar concept are tantalising.

The company claims the C-X75 can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 3.4 seconds, hitting 160km/h in 5.5, the quarter mile (400m) in 10.3 (at 251km/h), and 300km/h in 15.7 seconds. Top speed is quoted at 330km/h, while CO2 emissions are listed at a mere 28g/km.

Jaguar also quotes a six-hour recharging time for the 230kg, 19.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack from a domestic power source.

The super-C is billed as being shorter and lower than the current crop of supercars, with its exterior design all about “pure performance” with a simple central fuselage surrounded by prominent wheelarches.

Without a conventional piston engine onboard, the designers and engineers had “maximum freedom” in placing mechanical components and creating “the most elegant engineering package available”.

The supercar has a 0.32Cd drag coefficient and measures 4647 in overall length, 2020mm in width and 1204mm in height. It rests on a 2725mm wheelbase, with 21-inch turbine-themed polished alloy wheels on 265/30 ZR21 unique ‘hand-cut’ Pirelli tyres at the front and 22-inch wheels on 365/25 Z-rated rubber at the rear.

Unlike Lamborghini, which with its Sesto Elemento concept is built primarily with carbon-fibre, Jaguar has stuck with an extruded and bonded aluminium chassis clad in the same material.

As well as saving weight over steel, aluminium is also described as one of the most easily recyclable metals available, thus “boosting the C-X75’s sustainability as well as its speed”.

Naturally enough, carbon-fibre is used on the car, such as the rear diffuser, which along with other aerodynamic aids are designed to be ‘active’.

For example, the diffuser has an auto-lowering ‘active aerofoil’ that comes into play as speeds rise, while under the same conditions the front grille and brake cooling vents open and, at the rear corners of the car, vertical ‘control surfaces’ automatically engage to direct airflow aft of the rear wheels (for increased stability and efficiency).

Elements of the exterior design such as the grille and headlights, and the “long-held Jaguar design philosophy of natural, flowing lines and simple, elegant forms” are believed to be pointers to the next-generation XK and a smaller sportscar also rumoured to be in development.

Although the parallels with the Keith Helfet-designed XJ220 are obvious, Jaguar chief designer Ian Callum said inspiration for the C-X75 was drawn from the 1950s C-Type and D-Type racers and the 1966 XJ13 Le Mans prototype – a car he considers is “arguably the most beautiful Jaguar ever made”.

“The C-X75 is everything a Jaguar should be,” Mr Callum said. “It possesses remarkable poise and grace yet at the same time has the excitement and potency of a true supercar.

“You could argue this is as close to a pure art form as a concept car can get and we believe it is a worthy homage to 75 years of iconic Jaguar design.”

Accessed via forward-hinged doors that open outwards and upwards, the two-seater cabin has soft shapes and other ‘flowing’ design elements that are meant to represent the movement of the air to the turbines.

It also includes a raft of technology, including an ‘active noise-cancelling’ Bowers & Wilkins stereo and a Bremont clock wound by the acceleration and braking forces of the car.

With the seats fixed, the steering wheel, controls, instrument binnacle and pedals all adjust towards the driver. The instrumentation is based on the XJ, but is combined with designs from fighter aircraft to create ‘virtual 3D gimbals’.

Jaguar Cars managing director Mike O’Driscoll described the concept as “a tribute to the people who shaped the iconic Jaguars that are revered to this day”.

“By making it an innovative test-bed for the technologies of tomorrow, it also ensures that our reputation for engineering excellence will continue for another 75 years and beyond,” he said.

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