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That time Jaguar refused Bertone's B99 Concept as an X-Type replacement

It's what Jaguar models would have looked like today if the automaker continued on the retro-styling path

When Jaguar unveiled the XF executive sedan in 2007, it signaled the start of a new era for the British brand.

For the first time in many years, Jaguar's design department led by Ian Callum would not look back for inspiration, trying to give a fresh, modern look to their cars instead. That was only the beginning, as all the redesigned Jaguar models that followed continued on the path carved by the first-generation XF.

But there was a moment when Jaguar seemed to hesitate and contemplate a return to the retro-style era — that happened in 2011 when Bertone unveiled the Jaguar B99 Concept at the Geneva Motor Show.

The design study had almost nothing to do with Jaguar, however, as it was funded exclusively with Bertone money and designed by Bertone people. Since Jaguar lacked a BMW 3 Series rival at the time after the demise of the X-Type, the Italians were hoping their concept would persuade the automaker to bring it into production.

Named to remind people of Bertone's 99 years of existence (in 2011), the B99 Concept was designed to fit in the premium D-segment: it was 4.5-meters long, 1.34-meters high, 1.95-meters wide, and had a generous 2.8-meter wheelbase.

The numbers translated into dramatic proportions, with the low-slung B99 Concept making quite an impression in Geneva. It was a design study, so Bertone designers deemed it fit to get suicide doors and video cameras instead of side mirrors, even though automakers never approve solutions like that on mass-market cars.

The fact that Bertone's Michael Robinson and Adrian Griffiths took inspiration from traditional Jaguars of the Geoff Lawson era was obvious inside too. The Ebony Macasar African wood trim was generously used throughout the cabin, as was the two-tone leather. The dashboard had a clean look, with the central infotainment screen hidden behind the wood panel, and four aluminum cylinders housing the instrument panel.

Overall, the Jaguar B99 Concept managed to combine past and future in quite an intriguing way, and that was clear as far as the powertrain was concerned too. There was no old-school straight-six engine in it, as Bertone fitted the design study with a modular Extended Range Hybrid system that combined twin 150-kW (204-hp) electric motors with a 170-hp 1.4-liter gasoline engine acting as a range extender. As a result, the B99 had an impressive combined power output of 570 hp.

The internal combustion engine charged the lithium-ion batteries which were said to allow a theoretical driving range of 700 km (435 miles) on the highway. CO2 emissions were just 30 g/km, while the all-electric driving range was 100 km.

So why didn't Jaguar accept Bertone's proposal for a 3 Series rival? To put it simply, bad timing. By the time the Italians presented the B99 Concept, Jaguar's design reinvention was already in full swing. At the time, Jaguar's Global Brand Director Adrian Hallmark best explained the decision to EVO: “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.”

That said, are you happy with the way the Jaguar XE looks? Because that’s the design Jaguar chose over Bertone’s B99 Concept for its entry-level sedan.

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