Jaguar will preview a new styling direction at the Paris auto show later this month with a sports-car concept that also celebrates the company's 75th anniversary.
About the size of the XK coupe, the concept is a two-seater with sculpted, classically beautiful bodywork of the style that historically has been Jaguar's hallmark. This look will celebrate Jaguar's reputation as a sports-car maker.
Part of the inspiration for the show car is the success of the Porsche 918 revealed at the Geneva show in March. But unlike the 918, Jaguar has no plans to take its concept to production. Instead, the concept will pave the way for the next phase of Jaguar's line of new models, which starts in 2012 with the new XK.
It also neatly marks the end of the most recent phase of Jaguar design and the start of another. Five years ago, the current XK was the start of the Ian Callum-inspired reinvention of Jaguar's model range, moving through the XF and culminating in today's XJ.
One of the key design features likely to change in the future is the oval, E-type-inspired grille that has identified Jaguar's sports cars.
Callum previously told AutoWeek that the oval grille can't be stretched to fit the face of bigger cars without losing its elegant proportions.
Instead, Jaguar plans to move to a single grille design for its sedans and sports cars, based on the oblong XF/XJ design. Jaguar is working on developments of that shape for future models, with the Paris concept providing a first glimpse of the next-generation oblong grille on a sports car.
Another breakthrough for the concept is a hybrid powertrain. Details are sketchy, but it could be based around a V6 gasoline engine, possibly turbocharged, linked to an eight-speed automatic, which Jaguar is planning to fit to future models.