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jueves, 30 de septiembre de 2010

Jaguar Builds A Twin-Turbine Electric Supercar You Can’t Have

PARIS — One of the joys of the modern auto show is the flight of fancy known as the concept car. In the interest of generating buzz and flexing muscles, automakers trot out impossibly beautiful design and engineering studies that have no hope of production, machines that will never see a showroom or roll down a public road under their own power. At this year’s Paris auto show, Jaguar unveiled the C-X75, a twin-turbine-equipped, electrically powered, four-wheel-drive, 205-mph slice of wonderful that you won’t ever be able to buy.

You can be forgiven if the curves look familiar. The C-X75 was created to celebrate Jaguar’s 75th anniversary, and as such, it purposely recalls iconic speed sleds like the XJ13 of the 1960s and the XJ220 of the 1990s.

The C-X75’s voluptuous lines hide a range-extending hybrid powetrain akin to the one found in the Chevrolet Volt; four 195-horsepower electric motors, one at each wheel, are paired with two 80,000-rpm gasoline turbines that live under the Jag’s rear lid. Jaguar claims that each motor weighs a scant 50 kg and that, in total, the car is capable of producing 780 hp and 1180 lb-ft of torque. Power is stored in a 19-kWH, 330-pound lithium-ion battery pack that can provide up to 68 miles of electric-only driving. 62 mph arrives in a scant 3.4 seconds.

Like most supercar concepts, the Jag boasts a host of staggeringly expensive, eye-candy-laden features. The turbines, axial-flow micro units that were developed in concert with Bladon Jets, are the result of a joint project with the British government-sponsored Technology Strategy Board. The car’s interior is a mass of TFT screens, polished metal, and stretched leather. The aluminum bodywork houses an adjustable-vane exhaust—those turbines have to breathe, after all—and a carbon-fiber-clad rear diffuser that looks like the business end of a Transformer in heat.

In short, the C-X75 is impractical. In many ways, it’s disconnected from reality. It likely cost more than a hundred government toilets and has as much chance of ending up in our driveway as the Eiffel Tower. And, crucially, it plucks a few heartstrings by name-checking history and the cars we loved when we were little.

In other words, it’s exactly the kind of thing we go to auto shows to see.

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