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Jaguar C-X75 concept (2010) diesel electric supercar

By Tim Pollard

First Official Pictures

01 October 2010 12:00

Jaguar delivered one of the surprises of the 2010 Paris motor show with the new C-X75 supercar concept car. The C-X75 is designed to showcase Jag’s new design direction now that the modern Ian Callum-led look has been rolled out across the Jag XF, XJ and XK sports cars.

But the new Jaguar C-X75 (‘C’ for concept, ‘X’ for experimental, ’75’ to mark the brand’s 75th anniversary) is also a technological statement. Jag has spotted the kudos granted to Porsche for stealing the Geneva 2010 show with the 918 Spyder – and realises that its graceful, paceful cars require a green balance. The C-X75 is that car.

Jaguar C-X75 at the Paris motor show 2010: the lowdown

Take good note of these first official pictures of the C-X75. It’s markedly different from the XJ/XF set. At the rear, you’ll spot hints of the E-type, particularly in the relationship between the back window and swollen hips. But only a fool would call this Jag supercar retro; it’s a thoroughly modern aesthetic, crisp and elegant and feels right for Jaguar.

The C-X75 is a two-seater supercar, but it’s biggest surprise is hidden under the bonnet.

A diesel range-extender Jaguar supercar!

You read that right. The C-X75 uses a pair of micro-turbines acting like a diesel-fed range-extender and Jaguar claims this solution means this concept car is even cleaner than contemporary hybrids with carbon dioxide emissions of just 28g/km.

No prizes for guessing the C-X75 is far from a production-ready concept car. This is an ideas model, one that will influence future design and tech but you won’t see it nestling in the corner of your nearest Jaguar dealer any time soon.

Tell us more about this turbine propulsion system in the Jag

The concept has been trialled before in the 1970s by American and Japanese car makers. But the C-X75 has a different take on turbine power, using the jets to charge the batteries in a range-extender fashion like the Chevy Volt; they rarely drive the four wheels, but can be called upon to provide more electricity for the four 145kW motors.

Each of the four electric motors nestles in the wheel hub (each weighs just 50kg) and the supercar element of the C-X75 becomes apparent when you look at the claimed performance figures: there’s 780bhp on tap and a frankly bonkers 1578lb ft. Figures we’re slowly getting used to in this electric age.

And here’s the clever bit: the batteries are charged by the pair of tiny turbines, which spin independently or in sequence at up to 80,000rpm to deliver a more modest 95bhp each and consequently are responsible – claims Jaguar – for just 28g/km of CO2. Clean, rabid fast performance? Yes please.

Sounds too good to be true. Can Jaguar do it?

Ah yes. Back in the real world, the turbine tech on the Jag C-X75 is far from ready. But speak to the engineers, as we have done, and you realise they’re deadly serious. Give it years – or a decade – of R&D and this could be a feasible solution, they suggest. The turbines suck in air (up to 40,000 litres a minute) from sill level and the C-X75 has been spotted with a ‘Beware of Blast’ sticker on the rear apron warning that bystanders might feel a 737-spec breeze if they get too close.

The C-X75 can travel nearly 70 miles on zero-emissions e-drive mode, but Jag says that stretches out to nearer 560 miles with the turbines spooled up. Simply refuel with diesel to top up the range, or plug in for a recharge to bring the batteries back up to maximum charge.

What’s the Jag C-X75 made from?

Bodywork is carbonfibre, wrapped around an extruded and bonded Jag-spec aluminium chassis. The show car at the 2010 Paris show is in fact loosely based around the suspension of an XKR and the C-X75 stretches to 4647mm long. It weighs around 1350kg.

The doors rise like swan wings and the huge wheels are 21in alloys. Peer inside the rims and you’ll see the electric motors which are governed by Jaguar’s own proprietary software (it’s developing such systems for its production hybrids coming from 2013).

The 15kWh battery pack is a lithium ion unit weighing 185kg, snuggling mid-engined style between the two axles.

Jaguar C-X75: CAR’s verdict

One of of the surprises of the show: 0-62mph in 3.4sec, 205mph top speed and the shape of a supermodel, the C-X75 is one of the most intriguing new cars to come along this year.

Take a look inside, too. There’s no wood, no chrome, but a lot of polished and shot-blast aluminium. It’s very modern – reminds us of a newer take on the RD-6 concept car from a decade ago. It’s a line in the sand for Jaguar and we can’t wait to see the production cars that it sires.