The Jaguar C-X75 supercar. Which won’t be finished and won’t be sold. And yet in 2013, the year of the supercar, it was all set to turn the triumvirate confluence of LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder into the most awesome foursome that the car world has ever known.
The Jaguar now looks destined to become the forgotten giant, after a decision taken by the company in December 2012 not to put the extended-range petrol-electric two-seater into production after all.
The irony is that it might have signalled much more than a million-pound Ferrari or McLaren: newfound ambition for a once world-beating British marque again willing to compete right at the top of the food chain. A marque once again looking to take a guiding hand in the development of the state of the automotive art. Something of a renaissance, in other words.
More’s the pity. As things stand, Gaydon’s supercar experiment is over. Five working prototypes exist, and there are no plans to make more. Whispers persist that a few of them may be auctioned, but nothing’s confirmed. Strange circumstances for a first drive – but, in this case, we’ll take ‘em.
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.