Jaguar Supercar Is Coming, but Where Is the BMW 3 Series Fighter?

Jaguar’s announcement that it would build the C-X75 hybrid supercar in an edition of 250, each priced in excess of $1 million, overshadows a more pressing matter facing the company.

To compete effectively, analysts and executives agree that the brand needs a smaller vehicle it can sell in greater quantities, one roughly the size of a BMW 3 Series.

“It would be wrong not to consider that kind of vehicle,” said Ian Callum, the Jaguar design chief, in an interview at the New York auto show last month.

A vision of such a car already exists, but it was not designed by Mr. Callum’s team. Bertone, the Italian design house, unveiled its B99 concept at the Geneva auto show in March. Many Jaguar fans loved it. “Can Bertone Design a Better Jaguar Than Jaguar?” asked Automobile magazine on the cover of its June issue. Inside, the magazine’s design critic, Robert Cumberford, wrote that the B99 “looks more like an archetypal Jaguar than do current production Jaguar sedans.”

That may be true, but Mr. Callum appeared happy to have moved on. At the New York auto show, he expressed doubts about the proportions of the car. “It is very wide — two meters,” he said.

Jaguar, he stressed, did not commission the concept. “It is very much Bertone’s idea of Jaguar,” Mr. Callum said. “They came to us. We did not pay for the car.”

“My own impression is that it is perhaps too retrospective,” he continued. “Having made the leap of faith, we are going to move forward with that,” he said, referring to the design direction reflected by new products, like the redesigned XJ sedan.

On the other hand, seeing the striking C-X75 on the road might push all thoughts of a Jaguar designed by anyone but Mr. Callum’s team out of people’s heads. “This will be the finest-looking and most innovative Jaguar ever produced, “Mr. Callum said at the London press conference on Friday.

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