The C-XF aims to prove that cats do indeed have nine lives
Jaguar C-XF Concept Preview – 2007 Detroit Auto Show: Mention four-door luxury cars, and your mind may imagine stately Rolls-Royces, generic Lexus models, or a barge behind a Cadillac crest. But with the release of the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, the picture of pricey four doors is starting to change, a fact exemplified by the Jaguar C-XF concept. Hinting at an upcoming production model as well as future technological possibilities, the C-XF symbolizes a new styling approach from this struggling British marque, one that aims to authoritatively blend the best of Jaguar heritage with the needs and desires of future luxury car buyers.
Jaguar has seen some success with the recent launches of redesigned models such as the XJ and XK, and to keep the momentum going additional models or variants need to enter the pipeline. That’s where the C-XF comes in, demonstrating what Jaguar’s designers and engineers are capable of, which should create some excitement in preparation of the launch of an eventual production version. The C-XF loses the traditional Jag face found on the XJ and the Ford Taurus-esque mug of the XK to make room for an entirely new look, one that may attract a new segment of buyers to dealerships that need the showroom traffic.
The news about the C-XF is primarily about design and technology, so don’t be terribly disappointed to learn that the powertrain has been largely borrowed from the current crop of Jags. It’s the supercharged 4.2-liter V8 that’s good for about 420 horses, with power delivered to the rear wheels courtesy of a 6-speed automatic transmission featuring a manual function. Jaguar estimates a “possible” unrestricted top speed of 180 mph, but chances are this one-off concept would never, ever be pushed to even half that speed. Interestingly, all of the engine wires are enclosed in a carbon-fiber housing, designed to not only improve the appearance under the hood but also to protect the wires from possible damage.
As mentioned previously, the C-XF joins the ranks of the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and others as part of a breed of new four-door coupes. The overall look is long, lean, and a bit wide, which affords the concept a hunkered-down appearance. Spy shots of the production model suggest that the rear pillar will rise up to provide more head room. Up front is an intimidating face marked by a powerful, contoured hood as well as a prominent black chrome grille. Residing in the recessed pocket behind the front wheels are ceramic vent liners, above which is a pronounced shoulder line spawning from just above the menacing headlights. The C-XF is granted its own Metashine silver paint color.
Jaguar has outfitted the C-XF concept with four leather-clad bucket seats sans visible stitching, brushed aluminum and leather bits featuring a carbon fiber design on the dash, and poplar wood that has been scorched for a unique visual experience. Push the start button and the JaguarDrive Selector is revealed, pale blue lights fill the interior, and the cabin is illuminated with a ray of blue light (someone’s been watching too many reruns of Knight Rider). Also debuting on the C-XF is JaguarSense, a sensor system that unveils hidden door handles and a center-mounted display screen with the brush of a hand. Included here is a single screen that uses individual viewing cones, simultaneously offering driver and passenger different displays.
Given this car’s concept status, there’s no point in talking about an on-sale date (though it could theoretically end up on the Barrett-Jackson block decades from now). However, Jaguar suggests that the C-XF hints at what’s currently in its pipeline, a point backed up by recent spy photos of a less svelte C-XF derivative. No word on when that model may hit officially see the light of day, but it’s reasonable to assume a debut for the 2008 or 2009 model year. Just don’t expect the artsy bucket seats or blue lights shooting from the nose.
According to Bibiana Boerio, Managing Director of Jaguar cars, “the C-XF, and the future generation of sports saloons it signals, reaffirms the direction Jaguar is taking. When we launched the new XK sports car series, we talked about a product-led transformation of the company. We promised that new Jaguars would be beautiful, fast, glamorous, and evocative. The new XK delivered on that promise and the C-XF proves that these same values and more are coming in our saloon cars.” Director of Design Ian Callum, goes on: “Throughout its history Jaguar has created some of the most striking, modern and beautiful sports saloons imaginable and our objective with the C-XF was to recognize those principle design disciplines.”
When it comes to current Jaguars, we’re a bit conflicted. We give props to the heritage styling of the XJ, thumbs down to the bland XK front end, and a big “hell ya!” to the supercharged V8 engine. The C-XF fails to sway the pendulum either way. On one hand, we look favorably upon on the sleek shape, the take-no-prisoners front styling, the aforementioned V8, and the willingness to explore new design territory. On the other hand, that same styling could offend returning Jag buyers, and if the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is any indication, Jag’s four-door coupe will offer precious little rear headroom. Those are only concerns when you consider that the C-XF is a preamble to an upcoming production model.
Photos courtesy of Jaguar