Jaguar says that Bertone’s 99 Concept is just not for them

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 8, 2011

When Italian design house Bertone was creating the B 99 Concept that previews a potential new entry-level sedan for Jaguar, it focused on interior space. The B 99 is about as long as a BMW 3 series and Mercedes-Benz C class at about 4500mm, but has a wheelbase longer than the 2910mm of the Jaguar XF large sedan.

The B 99, at 1950mm wide, is also 75mm wider than the XF to offer limousine-sized interior space. The B 99 uses a full-hybrid power system created by Bertone Energy, the company's new division intended for renewable energy research.

In a phone interview with Automotive News Europe, Bertone chief designer Mike Robinson said the company sought to create a compact sedan that could offer the same roominess of a much larger vehicle.

The B 99, to improve accessibility, has no B-pillar and also features rear-hinged rear doors. Robinson said the B 99 was made by Bertone in a deal with Jaguar as a possible replacement for topseller X-Type, which was discontinued in 2009. Jaguar has plans to launch an entry-level sedan in 2013-2014 to increase sales.

With the B 99, Bertone is the sole Italian design house to have conceptualized five distinct Jaguar models. The previous models were the 1957 XK 150, of which just four were built, and three concepts: the 1966 FT, the 1967 Piranha and the 1977 Ascot.

And now we have a bad news for Bertone: Jaguar is not quite interested in this concept and says that the car is simply not for them.  "It is not our concept. We appreciate the fact that Jaguar is interesting enough for people to do a concept around. It's not that we are offended by it, or against it -- it is just not for us." said Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar's global brand director.

One of the first things that one can see in the Bertone Jaguar B99 concept car is that it does not have the appearance expected from a modern sports sedan like having a wedge shape, which refers to a high tail and low nose. The standard three volume architecture has both headlights and taillights in equal height when measured from the ground. This means that the rocker panel and the beltline are parallel to each other.

It does not mean though that the form language of the vehicle is all but horizontal. A look at the B99’s muscles shows that it is taut, very similar to a jaguar preparing to pounce or a runner waiting for the gun signal. The bodyside makes the car appear like it is taking a forward leap. This contrast between the leaping appearance and the linear look is, in fact, the secret behind the so-called dynamic imbalance principle.

This evolutionary trend hints at what the brand’s future design language will be like. Starting at the front end, the Jaguar grille now leans forward and appears as if it is looking down on the road to display that British confidence the brand has long been known for.

Its grille is angled like that of a slingshot which has the tendency to be angled forward as a way to provide a counterbalance to the tension resulting from the payload that is to be released. This so-called tension goes all the way to the hood and when this combines with the headlights and its high position, it results in the front end of the B99 having a more superior stance, regardless of what angle it is viewed from.

There are similarities with the traditional Jaguar grilles of the past but it is designed in such a way that it doesn’t reject any of the glamor and modernity of its futuristic luxury theme, as well as that feeling of agility and motion. On top of the grille, the brand did not use the standard leaping Jaguar. Instead there are motion sensors that are able to detect if an object, or even a person, is in the vicinity of the grille.

Once something is detected, this particular technology utilizes electric motors to pull down the grille and move it under the level of the hood in barely a second, about the same time an airbag deploys. As such, it can help prevent damage done to objects and especially pedestrians. Making the body side of this vehicle even more distinguished is the 2.8-meter long wheelbase that has the classic short front overhang with a long overhang in the rear.

In addition, the three-volume greenhouse was shortened to around 75% of the wheelbase. It was also lowered and is now sunken-down more to the body, giving it the appearance of a Jaguar stalking a prey. This model even has a modern glass-to-mass relationship. All of these lend credence to the dynamic imbalance as it conveys glamor and mystery. When it comes to the visual center of gravity, the Bertone Jaguar B99 concept has it on the rear wheel, particularly on the area where the body meets the C pillar.

This is also where its powerful hip muscle moves the vehicle forward up to its front grille. Giving off a futuristic vibe are the rear view mirrors while the chrome ultra-thin wings contain small video cameras that stick out from its beltline trim molding. From its rear portion, it sports an extra wide stance which is vital for a vehicle that offers a narrow view. Appearing as if it is ready to pounce are the powerful hips which again show the silent power this vehicle projects.

Much like its front grille, the grille in the rear shows a similar floating gloss black insert that has the round Jaguar logo. The only difference is that the one in the rear does not have a chrome frame. Its horizontal taillights are placed high as well and since it appears to outwards from its rear grille, it continues to highlight the vehicle’s exceptional width. One can see that the exhaust pipe has a wide center and brings to mind the fact that this hybrid vehicle is equipped with a thermal engine.

This engine brings the best of both worlds and not only extends the capable range but also provides high performance with low pollution. The rear spoiler is evidence of its active aerodynamics as it immediately rises when running at high speed as it lowers the air turbulence and delivers extra downforce. When the driver lowers the speed, the rear spoiler just goes back to the trunklid.

Topics: jaguar, concept, bertone

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