By on February 18, 2011

Doesn’t that profile look familiar? Haven’t we seen that somewhere? Having taken the British brand in a bold new direction after decades of stylistic stagnation, Jaguar’s chief designer Ian Callum is letting Bertone take the lead in setting a stylistic direction for Jag’s forthcoming 3-Series competitor… and Bertone seems hell-bent on dragging Jag back to its XJ-obsessed recent past. But Bertone design director Mike Robinson won’t cop to the seemingly obvious charge, telling Autocar

Jaguar is looking at a new design direction and a small car — and we think this is the right style, with a very light glasshouse and the visual weight concentrated on to the wheels… I’m an anti-retroist. This is not an old classic design. It’s a new classic.

But is it? The (B) pillarless four-door screams XJC in proportion, and the whole effect is of a step backwards. Besides, when classic XJ proportions meet a 3-Series-sized chassis, the interior is going to face some serious space restrictions. In any case, Callum took one the boldest steps in automotive design when he left the XJ styling cues behind and penned the XF and the stunning new XJ. With this B99 concept, Bertone just seems to be muddying the waters. Let’s hope Jag keeps rejects the concept and keeps design of its forthcoming smaller luxury sedan in-house.

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56 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Baby Jag By Bertone Edition...”

  • avatar

    Bold new direction? I think not.  The new jags look like primped up Camrys.  The styling is the very definition of pedestrian and BO-RING.
    Sure, this is a recycled look, but at least it’s a Jaguar look, not some rehash of the usual vanilla euro sedan look.

    • 0 avatar

      I like the new XJ more than the old XJ – and I never liked the old XJ –  probably because I’m of a younger generation.  Thing is, I think Jaguar did the right thing because the old design wasn’t selling well. The XF did very well and the new XJ is selling well too.
      I do wish the new XJ could have had a pillarless coupe design because that would have really made it stand out.

  • avatar

    Looks like a Dodge.

  • avatar

    Pillarless? I’ll believe it when I see it for myself.
    (EDIT): If it’s true, then I want one for that feature alone. Beautiful.

  • avatar

    Whether you love or hate the new XF and XJ, this is some serious backtracking to a retro design language Jaguar determined had grown stale and stagnant (Alex L. Dykes’s XJ review discusses this). Personally, I like how Jaguar has finally decided to cast off its once-sexy, now-dowdy past and set a new benchmark for British sexiness.

    • 0 avatar

      I more-or-less agree with you and yet I can’t help wondering why, really. When I look at an early Jag XJ it still looks like one of the most beautiful vehicles ever built, which it is.
      So, what would be wrong if they still built them like that with the modern technologies?
      If something is almost universally deemed to be virtually flawless why the need to mess with it?
      I guess I am just wondering out loud why we allow ourselves to buy into the idea that things have to be constantly changing to be any good. It is a function of marketing over sense in my eyes.
      I was browsing some pictures of some pre-war vehicles recently and, aside from the aerodynamic aspect, I thought how wonderful they were. Lots of space, headroom, big doors – more practical in many ways than many modern units.

  • avatar

    I agree with TTAC….. but trouble is I quite like it. If they could build it so it looked just like that and so it didn’t morph into an X type, then couldn’t they simply stick the Daimler badge on instead?

  • avatar

    I think it’s utterly gorgeous. If they sold this car looking like it does in the pictures I think it would be the Maseratti of it’s class. Forgiven any other flaws in light of its styling.
    Also, I see way more Aston Martin in the influence of the front end than old Jaguar. I agree though, that the side profile is familiar Jaguar territory.

  • avatar

    The XF disappears into traffic with its generic Infiniti/Lexus GS volumes and lack of distinctive styling cues. The new XJ is simply horrible looking. It isn’t generic, as why would anyone else have random blocks of contrasting color on the C-pillars of anything other than a taxicab, but the overall look was foretold by the 6000 SUX built for Robocop. This Bertone car is ATTRACTIVE, which is a radical and individual move for any car company to take today. Toof roofile doesn’t even peak right behind the driver for no reason and then crush the heads of backseat passengers. Brilliant. It should be common sense, but obviously there is no such thing.

  • avatar

    This looks very reto indeed, I knew it was a Jaguar even before I read the title. The only problem I see is that these proportions will not scale down well. Yes it would look beautiful on a 220 in. sedan. But just try to make it work on a 160 in. sedan. I dare you. It will just look goofy and wrong. I think it looks great. Distinctive but not played out.

  • avatar

    That Jag is brilliant!

  • avatar

    If wanting a retro-styled Jaguar is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 It looks great.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      I gotta agree. I think it looks beautiful. If it’s a retro-retread, who cares? If you had to re-hash a car design, the classic Jag look is about as good a choice as you can make.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      +1 If I had $200,000 to spend like our “New or Used” poster from yesterday, I’d buy an XJ (the year is really immaterial as long as it has the round headlights and proper leaping cat hood ornament.)  I wouldn’t want a rare one cause I would likely start hacking up the drive-train and putting in more reliable, easier to sort out bits.  Or I might just park it to stare at it.  Make mine British Racing Green with a tan leather interior please.

    • 0 avatar

      +3   That design is beautiful, and in my eyes, distinctive.  It looks like a Jag, unlike their recent designs ( which I also like ).

    • 0 avatar

      The best looking Jag I’ve ever seen. Hands down.

    • 0 avatar

      @nrd515 “The best looking Jag I’ve ever seen. Hands down.”
      Um, no.

  • avatar

    “I’m an anti-retroist. This is not an old classic design. It’s a new classic.”


  • avatar

    Cadillac figured this out 10 years ago. Lexus is trying with the IS-F. Buick is introducing mroe of it. Acura went off the deep end, but it is still prevalent. Jag is on the right track, but this car destroys the stylistic good will they garnered with the XF and new XJ. I would love for this to be made – 4-5 years ago.
    If you want to sell expensive cars in 5 years, you need to get the attention of the up and coming 30’s set. The angular design language the “classic” luxury makes (see: Former Geriatric-mobiles) seem to be embracing makes them attractive to younger buyers, and while most college grads are flipping burgers right now, there are a LOT of them coming into new money. BMW, Mecedes, and Audi have name brand recognition – you don’t have to convince above median wage earners to put one on their shopping list. Most young people used to see Cadillac, Jag, and until recently Buick as something their grandparents drive.
    Now, would Jag have to balls to design and style the new baby in house to maintain their forward momentum in volume cars – and build something like this in limited runs, a la z8? Now THAT would be fun.

    • 0 avatar

      That kind of thinking is exactly what killed Oldsmobile. Sure, as Mercury and Pontiac have shown, it was probably doomed eventually in this world where good cars are prohibited by law, but it could have gone out with dignity. Instead, GM started a campaign in the late 1980s proclaiming that the company was “Not your father’s Oldsmobile.” That may have seemed like a good marketing pitch, but not when you consider that “your father’s Oldsmobile” built excellent affordable high quality luxury cars, world class muscle cars, and for a while produced the best selling car in the nation, the Cutlass. In trying to appeal to the youth market they abandoned the enormous market that made them great, and ended their century long run producing generic upscale Saturns. A simple marketing slogan won’t make people forget what they have thought for years. In the 1970s, 20 years after it had become its own make, people still referred to the Imperial line as “Chrysler Imperial.” People who loved the old luxury makes you mention are turned away by their new directions, and the people who think of them as boring will always feel that way.
      Until the recent redesign, Jaguar was one of the few modern makes that I actually respected. This could undo the damage caused by the redesign, but only if they rework it into a full size sedan as the new XJ.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Love at first sight.

    Open that front 3/4 view  rendering and tell me that isn’t what Jaguar was supposed to have done with their restyle three years ago.

    The problem was Jag threw their entire design language out with the bathwater with their recent update. I’m in total agreement the VandenPlas|X-Type look was dated and worn out, and the S-Type was placeholder that ran past its due-date.

    But there is equity in the traditional Jag look. It just needed a modern take.

    Examples of how stuffy English visual tradition has withstood the test of time can be found easily by looking to modern Bentley, RR and Aston offerings. Each has managed to pay homage to the past while looking modern.

    This “Baby Jag” will never be mistaken for a Lexus — or anything else — in traffic. It’s still got a stiff upper lip, but some steaming hot curves. Kate Beckinsale as car.

  • avatar

    Wow, glad to see so many others agree that Ed got this one totally wrong.  Couldn’t believe the article when I read it.  

    This design is beautiful, and it is EXACTLY the direction in which Jaguar needs to go.  If they build something like it, it would be the first Jag made in my adult lifetime that tempted me even a little.  And I am in the target market segment, for sure.

  • avatar

    Wow!  This looks great!  x100 better than the utterly boring 3-series.

  • avatar

    I have to disagree with TTAC here; I think it’s gorgeous..

  • avatar
    John Horner

    This looks a lot better than anything else from Jaguar in a long time.

  • avatar

    It looks okay but I’d like to the body a bit lower and maybe increase the green house.  Too much like a chop topped from the fifties that Chrysler resurected for it’s current product line.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.  Increase the greenhouse, and this thing is golden.  I find the Mercedes/BMW/Porsche 4-door coupes boring, this Jag blows them away.  Of course, this is coming from someone who has a rarely-driven XJ6 sitting in his driveway who just can’t bring himself to sell it, so I’m not exactly unbiased.  Or, perhaps, sane.

    • 0 avatar

      Leave it alone, don’t ugly it up by making the greenhouse the size of my bedroom! Nothing ruins a car’s looks as quickly as a giant greenhouse.

  • avatar

    The new XJ destroyed the looks of what was before the best looking luxury sedan on the market. I can only assume that Jag dealers have had a lot o previous customers who have been upset over the looks o the new car, and who are now looking at other brands. Bringing out a car that evokes the great styling of the previous models, but with some modern twists, makes a lot of sense, and is what Jaguar should have done in the first place with the XF and the XJ. 

    There is nothing wrong with progress in styling, but throwing away a beautiful and successful design language for something new and less appealing isn’t progress. I applaud Jag for finding a way to pay homage to the styling that made the brand great while still bringing out touches that make this concept look completely modern. 

  • avatar

    I like it. It’s stylish and classy while not being boring.

  • avatar

    The profile is the only view that I find really convincing, but… wow. It’s perfect. The C pillar is brilliant, and it looks like you might even be able to sit in the back seat without bumping your head — retro indeed. It does contradict the recent Jaguar styling direction rather severely, but that direction was not worth taking to begin with.

  • avatar

    I swear Bertone must be Italian for ‘no headroom.’

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    If they build it, I will come.

    (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

  • avatar

    when i first saw it as my the page was setteling down, a “wow” exited my lips.  I think its stunning.  The proportions seem perfect, as befits Bertone.  I cannot imagine what you are all complaining about. 

  • avatar

    Does it come with a Churchill cigar, a carbon-fiber bowler, and a kevlar ‘brolly?

  • avatar

    I have to agree with most people here, I think it’s absolutely beautiful.
    I’ve always loved the old XJ styling, it was always one of my all time favorite cars and still catches my eye when I see one on the road. As much as I appreciate the new styling, I was actually sad to see the old style go by the wayside. This ‘retro’ look is stunning in my view, and I would love to see that on the road.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, but the more I look at it the less I like it. The pics tend to hide the excessively deep body side- see it in full light and I suspect it will look quite bloated. The detailing is superb, but the history of Jaguar since the ’80 (and the fact it is a show special) makes it probable that it would not survive to production. As for retro Jags, well, buyers were not exactly lining up for S-types and X-types were they? Having said that, I have to admit the newer models don’t exactly charm me either!

  • avatar

    I think the XF looks like a cross between a Lexus GS and a Volvo, and the XJ looks like a fat ugly whale. This reminds me a bit of the Bentley Brooklands, in a good way. Unfortunately it will probably have an LCD dash, so I’ll still have to pass.

  • avatar

    I owned a Series III XJ, arguably the best looking sedan ever built. The looks of the new XJ and the XF have grown on me and I think they are handsome cars but this concept is simply stunning.
    Nobody says that the current Mustang looks retro. When they introduced the current platform the car was immediately recognizable as a new Mustang. It had traditional Mustang design cues but in a modern idiom. You knew right away it was a Mustang but also a modern car.
    I can’t say for sure till I see it in person but I feel the same way about this concept. Rather than being retro, it’s a contemporary expression of the traditional XJ styling language.

  • avatar

    Cool from every angle, but especially the rear.  Looks exotic.

    The greenhouse is a little ill-proportioned.  It needs a slightly lower belt line and a bit more glass.

    Pillarless will really stand out.  Unfortunately, it’ll also cost a lot of weight.  It might aid conversion to a convertible though- all the reinforcement will already be built-in.

  • avatar

    One of Jags biggest problems is that cars like this tend to appeal more in the USA than at home. The new XJ has gone to the top of the UK sales charts for cars in it’s class having fallen a long way from grace under the old XJ. To be blunt Jag can’t build cars like this and the S type without killing it’s domestic sales.
    Simple answer is to make this as a Daimler….

  • avatar

    Love the styling, but the proportions are just not reality. The side glass would have to be about 6 inches tall to get the roof that low assuming that this car is about the size of a current 3 series and that the wheels shown would be 18 inchers. Also, suicide doors are a fantasy. It will never happen.
    I would be thrilled if the car looked something like the rendering though.

  • avatar

    The picture pushes all the right buttons for me.  However I agree with the above comments that it won’t work as a “baby” Jag.   The proportions will change during execution.     This should be the full size flagship Jag !!!!!    Tata should be pounding the table in Coventry for this luxury car.   

    The baby Jag needs to be a 4 door sports car. Look to the Porsche Panamera for inspiration.

    BTW  A few of the pictures are from a different design with many XJS styling cues. I guess that’s another subject.

  • avatar

    The XF is boring and if it wasn’t for the Aston-Martin-esque rear end, I’d call it downright ugly. The XJ is kinda nice, although a little too fat, especially for a British car, but even ignoring that, I don’t see why anybody should buy one over let’s say an Audi A8. It just doesn’t have an independent character.
    This concept is different though. It’s very British, it has style, it is distinct from the Germans. It would be the first Jag since the introduction of the S-Type that I like.
    Though I agree with the commenters above about it better becoming the new flag ship…although that’s very unlikely of course, given that the XJ hasn’t been on the market for very long.

  • avatar

    Wow, a lot of hate here, and from random folks not people who bought (or almost bought) a recent Jaguar. Well, I did – own an early copy of the XF Super. Guys, it’s a stunner in the flesh. As is the new XJ. And they drive (and ride) even better than they look.

    Hey, I love the old XJ look too. Especially the Series III – everyone does. Even Bertone apparently – funny how their centenary design isn’t based on one of their own, or a paid commission of any sort. Well it’s official, Jaguars simply rock.

    But, retro pastiche was never a Jaguar thing. Even when the models lasted forever (E-type 1961-74, XJS 1975-96) the eventual replacement was always a departure, bold, avant garde, that slowly grew on you. The retro thing was a Ford gimmick. And regardless of what you thought of that, it just wasn’t selling. So the company went back to its roots in avant garde and high performance, sales took off, and now there’s no looking back.

    Returning to this Bertone design, it doesn’t work, as some pointed out. The pillarless suicide door is impractical. The greenhouse is claustrophobic. If you didn’t like the XJ’s black C-pillar, you’ll hate the black cladding on the doors of this one – just wait till you see it in daylight or a lighter color. And the leaper’s a goner under Euro regulations. Sorry boys.

    So, if it’s those gorgeous shoulders and the classic greenhouse you’re after, buy a classic or CPO XJ. If you want the timeless feline / automotive qualities they represent, test drive an XF or XJ. Otherwise, whatever, keep yakking..

    Good article Ed – I agree.

  • avatar

    Beautiful car.  It will sell well in the US, Jag’s biggest market.

  • avatar

    It might do OK in the US but that’s not enough. In the UK both the new XF and XJ have gone to the top of the sales charts and are bringing in the volume Jag needs. Jags retro designs by contrast bombed at home and only did OK in the US.
    I think there is a market for this as a Daimler though…

  • avatar

    This is the reincarnation of the very rare and equally gorgeous XJ12C Series II. Has anyone else noticed? I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

  • avatar

    I really like the design, I think it’s a lot more distinctive than the 3 series, C class and Audi. If they can put a car into production that comes close to this concept I think it would sell. How well it sells is another question as last time I checked the U.S. sales of the XF and XJ were dismal.
    I can’t say I’m a big fan of the new XJ (at least yet) but I do like the XF. I don’t think the XF looks at all like any Infiniti/Lexus model but it sells in very low numbers in the U.S. compared to other cars in the segment.
    This concept probably would not be priced much below the XF and as others have mentioned I agree that the styling does a nice job of blending traditional Jaguar styling cues with a modern interpretation.
    Most automotive experts agree the old XJ was the prettiest sedan ever produced but it had run its course. IMO Ford made of huge mistake with the last version by not changing the bodystyle, you could barely tell the difference between it and its predecessor even though it was an entirely new car. The dismal sales level reflected that most potential buyers felt the same way.
    To me this concept is a head turner.

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