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Auto Show:  2011 Geneva Auto Show

Bertone Jaguar B99 Concept - Geneva Auto Show

March 8, 2011

With a nod to one Justin Bieber, the B99 Concept is the “baby Jag” according to the British carmaker’s most recent intro at the Geneva Auto Show. And despite its approval by the design god at Jaguar, Ian Callum, the new concept runs counter to Jag’s current design direction. In its profile the B99 (referencing coachbuilder Bertone’s 99 years of history) more closely speaks to the XJ Coupe of some 40 years ago than anything on Jag’s current showrooms.

Drawn to a scale that would position is as a competitor to BMW’s 3-Series or Benz’s C-Class, the B99 is roughly three inches longer than the BMW. With little in the way of front overhang, the eye is moved closer to the rear axle, emphasizing the Jag’s squat, ready-to-pounce proportion. That emphasis is also underscored by the notchback roofline, an even more significant departure from Jaguar’s current production profile on the XF and XJ.

For Bertone’s director of design, American Michael Robinson, it was all about recapturing those elements that have historically made a Jaguar a Jaguar. And in the exterior detailing, it’s all about discretion. The leaper has made a return, but chrome has been kept to an absolute minimum: window surrounds, fender vent and the like. Inside, ample measures of wood are combined with ample measures of leather; think of it as an old British club allowing women.

The car’s biggest nod to this century is its utilization of a plug-in hybrid powertrain developed in-house by Bertone. Hub-mounted motors power the Jag’s two rear wheels; those motors are, in turn, powered by a 1.2 liter diesel. At this point even its production is conjecture, but by the time the trigger is pulled ‘Jag’ and ‘1.2 liter diesel’ won’t have the apparent disconnect they do today.

Founded some ninety years ago as the maker of sidecars, Jaguar is the cat with – seemingly – nine lives. Now owned by India’s Tata Motors, the B99 was one of three themes showcased in Geneva. Jaguar also displayed a ready-for-production XKR-S, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic E-Type’s introduction, which originally took place in Geneva.

DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

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Bertone Jaguar B99 Concept - Geneva Auto Show - Autotrader