In supercar terms, the C-X75 moved from apparently fanciful show car to fully operational validation prototype very quickly – and changed quite a lot on route.
Those who last read about this car after its unveiling as a concept at the Paris motor show of 2010 will be wondering where its tiny jet turbine power generators have gone. Somewhere along the line, Jaguar concluded – just as Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche did – that the supercar isn’t quite ready to part with reciprocating pistons just yet.
What was decided, in May 2011, was that the buzz surrounding the C-X75 concept car was too great to ignore. The car would go forwards, engineered in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering.
But, like the show car, it couldn’t be just another supercar. It had to be as fast as a Bugatti Veyron. It had to emit less carbon than a Toyota Prius - sub-90g/km, as things stood back then. It needed a zero-emissions range as good as a Chevrolet Volt. And it needed to look like the original show car.
It wouldn’t be enough for this car to breach the bounds of possibility in just one direction – the familiar direction: speed. The C-X75 had to push the envelope in opposing directions simultaneously, on performance and fuel efficiency.
In place of the Bladon Jets omnivore turbines came a primary powerplant that would set Jaguar’s engineers a similar challenge on cooling, and allow it similar freedoms on packaging. Developed in-house by Jaguar, the C-X75’s 1.6-litre petrol four-pot is all-aluminium, and is like no small-capacity engine ever intended for the road.
Fitted with both a supercharger and a turbocharger, it produces unbelievable power for its size: an astounding peak 502bhp at 10,000rpm. And because the C-X75 is a plug-in hybrid, that engine’s only half the story.
Immediately behind the driver – who’s positioned almost perfectly between the front and rear axles – there’s a 19kWh lithium ion battery pack capable of supplying a continuous 300kW of power.
The car’s electric motors are Jaguar’s own. They’re the size of cake tins, there’s one for each axle, and they produce 194bhp and 295lb ft each. They also only weigh 20kg, making them more efficient, judged on output per kg, than any electric motor Jaguar could buy in.
The one up front drives the wheels directly through reduction gearing; the one at the rear runs in parallel with the engine, sending power through a seven-speed automated manual gearbox to the rear wheels.
And so, running at full chat, the C-X75 produces in excess of 850bhp, and has 738lb ft of torque. It’ll accelerate to 60mph in less than 3.0sec, to 100mph in less than 6.0sec, and go on way beyond 200mph.
Scarcely believably, it also produces less than 89g/km on an NEDC emissions test, and drives for 40 miles on battery power alone. And it looks incredible – more like the rightful heir to Malcolm Sayer’s C- and D-types, and the elegant XJ13, than either the XJ220 or the XJR-15 ever seemed.
You could fill textbooks explaining the innovative engineering in this car. The all-carbonfibre construction makes for torsional rigidity of 60,000Nm per degree – three times greater than a Lamborghini Murciélago.
Every major mechanical and electrical component is positioned within the wheelbase, with the exception of the seven-speed gearbox – which goes in sideways to minimise the overhang behind the rear axle.