PH Blog: putting the hype into hypercars


'O, Howl, howl, howl!' the motoring media cries, resurrecting memories of the XJ220 and speculating what might have been. 'Jaguar has decided kill the C-X75, it's a tragedy!'

The only problem being: Jaguar was never going to build the C-X75.

Was Jag really up to taking on McLaren?
Was Jag really up to taking on McLaren?
This was a car in the great tradition of the motor show special - the F-Type was not yet ready to be shown, the remainder of the range was using Zimmer frames, so Jag knocked out a supercar to keep the troops interested, albeit one of the best looking, most exciting sounding supercars (in terms of specification) of modern times. That it is a shame we shall never see a C-X75 on the road is not in doubt. That people genuinely thought it would make production must warm the cockles of every conman's heart.

The positive fall-out from this announcement is that it forces us to scrutinise the new generation of hybrid hypercars. 2014 will potentially see three of them launched: the McLaren P1, the new Enzo and the 918 Spyder. Even if it had planned to build the C-X75, I honestly think Jaguar would be making the correct decision to can the project just reading the names of those three products. I mean - who is going to buy all of these cars? The stock answer to that question in the year 2012 is 'The Chinese' but sadly those Chinese who can afford such toys still have more interest in being driven in very large, comfortable cars than scratching about in racing slippers.

Bang in the middle of the worst global recession in generations, perhaps ever, the car industry is about to produce a surplus of £1m hypercars. You have to admire the sheer chutzpah, no?

Wouldn't it just be better without the batteries?
Wouldn't it just be better without the batteries?
What makes this emerging class of hybrid performance machines so risky is they do not mark a continuation from a previous generation of products in the way F50 followed F40. They are completely new standalone machines espousing new technologies designed to preface the next stage of fast motoring. They will do things their predecessors could not do - the problem being that those new tricks might not correlate with the requirements of the potential owner. Slipping silently away from rest in a 918 Spyder is a very, very cool trick, but one I suspect will wear thin in the face of all that extra mass and the realisation that, in performance terms, the 918 will not hold a huge advantage over a Carrera GT.

People currently buy hypercars for the theatre and hyperbole. They want numbers to quote, noise to make and body panels to be gloated over. In many respects it is the simplest area of the marketplace, and now it is being complicated and re-categorised into something new. We'll need to drive these new cars next year to decide whether the new technologies smother the essential lunacy of a hypercar. Right now I remain a little suspicious but, as ever, willing and hopeful of being proved wrong.

Listing these complications and conundrums, it seems Jaguar has made the correct decision to avoid this million euro dust-up. Well, it would have - if it had ever intended to build the thing in the first place. Which it didn't.

Chris

 

 

Comments (76) Join the discussion on the forum

  • boxerTen 15 Dec 2012

    JonnyVTEC said:
    Guvernator said:
    What I was trying to say is that I don't really see the point of using OLD hybrid tech in the other new batch of hypercars which are being released and indeed trying to sell it as cutting edge.
    Exactly. Hence, I dont see why Porsche are putting a V8 in it....

    Which is what I said before.
    If large horsepower, good throttle response, and good engine balance are required, then a naturally aspirated engine with 6+ cylinders is always the prefered option. It may be there are constraints that prevent such (manufacturer doesn't have a sufficently powerful n/a engine, or existing engine bay too small, or possibly homologation regs impose a disadvantage) but given a clean sheet ...

  • Guvernator 14 Dec 2012

    JonnyVTEC said:
    Whats the envelope of a 'performance car' though, quick 10 second of throttle to show your mates or a full trackday. I think thats where these hybrid hypercars need the large engines for the sustained high power demand of the latter but in reality most will be driven for the former?
    Probably very true but let me put it to you this way since you seem to work in this sector so will probably have more knowledge then me. What current or near future tech (with next 5 years say) can you see which would totally replace the ICE powerplant in a supercar\hypercar BUT it has to be able to operate under the same paramaters, i.e. 200mph+ top speead, acceptable range, let's say 150 miles, ability to be able to refuel in less than 5 minutes for another 150 mile range and lastly be emotive in the way it looks, drives, sounds etc. This might not be so important in a city commuter car which is where hybrids make the most sense IMO but very important on a £1m toy. It also has to do this without adding excess weight or compromise packaging any more than an ICE would. I'm all ears.

  • JonnyVTEC 14 Dec 2012

    Whats the envelope of a 'performance car' though, quick 10 second of throttle to show your mates or a full trackday. I think thats where these hybrid hypercars need the large engines for the sustained high power demand of the latter but in reality most will be driven for the former?

  • Guvernator 14 Dec 2012

    JonnyVTEC said:
    Guvernator said:
    What I was trying to say is that I don't really see the point of using OLD hybrid tech in the other new batch of hypercars which are being released and indeed trying to sell it as cutting edge.
    Exactly. Hence, I dont see why Porsche are putting a V8 in it....

    Which is what I said before.
    Why a V8 or any large configuration ICE? Yes it may seem like old tech as you can trace it's origins back many years but at this point in time, it's still the only really viable form of power for a supercar\hypercar if you want to go really fast, have an acceptable range, the option to refuel easily\quickly and sound good while doing it to boot.

    There is a lot of talk and probably a lot of research going on in the background on hybrid technology but I've yet to see anything released till now which I would see as a viable replacement for the venerable ICE, ESPECIALLY in a performance car.

  • NRS 14 Dec 2012

    Guvernator said:
    What? Did you just really say that? Are you sure you are on the right forum? I'd like to see how far you'd get if you only had the batteries for motive power. Currently an ICE engine is the only viable option to get a car to move at a reasonable speed or travel further than 50 miles before needing to recharge for 8 hours. Oh and V8's sound awesome! ;-)

    Sometimes I get the strong feeling that this MOTORING forum is being overrun by people who have very little interest in cars, very strange.
    I love noisy engines, yet to say someone who doesn't is not a car fan is not really correct. They just have a different opinion on what they would like, or what they might like to see. They're still as much a car fan as the rest of us.

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