Ahead of Frankfurt, Jaguar Previews C-X16 Concept

Having coasted for a year on the strength of its C-X75 hybrid concept, which is headed into production as a supercar costing upwards of $1.5 million, Jaguar has its predatory eyes on a less rarefied market segment with the C-X19 concept, scheduled to have its debut at the Frankfurt auto show next month.

The company has not disclosed any information about the concept car’s technology, its intended competitors or its likelihood of production, but analysts have long contended that Jaguar needed a smaller car in the lower end of the midrange luxury segment to compete effectively with BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. A production version of the C-X19 could fit within such a strategy.

Ian Callum, the design director of Jaguar, has taken his cue not from the sensuous C-X75 or the statesmanlike Bertone B99 concept sedan shown at Geneva in March, but from the XK, one of his first complete designs for the brand.

The C-X19 mimics that coupe’s flared rear haunches and delicate canopy taper. There is more aggression, however, between the concept’s axles, with a horizontal side strake behind the front wheel and a steep windshield rake. Jaguar did not release any sketches of the grille, so it is not known whether the XK’s nose treatment, maligned in some circles as resembling that of a third-generation Ford Taurus, was also carried over.

To the chagrin of many of the brand’s fans, Jaguar did not act on the wave of praise that another smaller sports-car concept, the F-Type, generated when it was unveiled at the 2000 Detroit auto show.

Jaguar will release full specifications for the concept on Sept. 7, a week before press previews of the Frankfurt auto show.

The C-X19’s Web debut is one of many expected in advance of the Frankfurt show, where press previews start on Sept. 13. Wheels will have advance coverage of the show’s most anticipated debuts and will be on the convention floor in September.