Jag’s fu­ture laid bare

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - JEZ SPINKS

IAN Cal­lum’s Palomino Black­wing pen­cil is in full flow, a mes­meris­ing ac­tion as lines, curves and cir­cles rapidly fill a page that was blank just mo­ments ago. Sketch­pad pages flip as more cars are con­structed from graphite lead.

Jaguar’s de­sign di­rec­tor is giv­ing Wheels a vis­ual in­sight into the brand’s de­sign phi­los­o­phy, and the fu­ture of global au­to­mo­tive de­sign. He’s sketch­ing mod­els from Jaguar’s past (SS, E-type), present

(F-pace) and even fu­ture (a purely hy­po­thet­i­cal mod­ern-day XJS) to em­pha­sise how ex­ag­ger­a­tion and pro­por­tion have re­mained key since the Sir Wil­liam Lyons era.

Cal­lum has re­tained much of Lyons’ philoso­phies while be­ing charged with the crit­i­cal, brand-re­viv­ing mis­sion of eras­ing the retro styling that held Jaguar back in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Look­ing to the fu­ture of ve­hi­cle de­sign, Cal­lum be­lieves dig­i­tal cam­eras that re­place side mir­rors are just a few years away, sub­ject to leg­is­la­tion. He says this will change de­sign in a sub­tle way and have huge ad­van­tages for aero­dy­nam­ics, while erad­i­cat­ing a fea­ture few de­sign­ers cher­ish in terms of aes­thet­ics.

Au­ton­o­mous driv­ing will have lit­tle in­flu­ence – “peo­ple won’t be loung­ing around at cock­tail bars, they’ll still be strapped into a par­tic­u­lar po­si­tion” – com­pared with elec­tric-fo­cused driv­e­trains.

“Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion is the ex­cite­ment for de­sign­ers. It is giv­ing us the op­por­tu­nity to do things that we couldn’t do with a petrol-en­gine car, and we demon­strated that a lot on C-X75 [pic­tured over­leaf].

“It was fas­ci­nat­ing [tur­bine] tech­nol­ogy and it was an in­cred­i­ble car that gave you the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate the cars the way you want them to look be­cause, apart from pack­ag­ing the bat­tery packs, which had to be split into two halves, it al­lowed a fairly free hand [for styling].

“I think that’s the big­gest op­por­tu­nity be­cause the me­chan­i­cals take up a lot of room when you con­sider the en­gine, gear­box, rear axle, or a four-wheeldrive axle. You’re tak­ing away a lot of that mass and size, and there­fore it gives you more flex­i­bil­ity.

“A cab-for­ward or one-box de­sign is more vi­able now than it might have been, and the whole no­tion of a long bon­net is prob­a­bly gone now.

“I think you’ll see more space in a car for a cer­tain length, or smaller cars with the same amount of space [as the larger mod­els they re­place].”

Cal­lum, how­ever, says the sin­gle big­gest in­flu­ence on cars will

“The whole no­tion of a long bon­net is prob­a­bly gone now”

re­main peo­ple – both in phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal terms. “It’s ac­tu­ally peo­ple who dic­tate the shape of a car,” Cal­lum says. “The win­dows are at the top, your feet are at the bot­tom, and [hu­mans] are a cer­tain size. “The only dif­fer­ence that [elec­tri­fi­ca­tion] will al­low is where th­ese peo­ple sit in the car. [And] with dig­i­tal mir­rors you won’t need so much rear glass, or you won’t need it at all, but peo­ple like to see around them; they don’t want to be co­cooned too much.” Cal­lum’s vi­sion is fo­cused only for­ward, though he says it’s real­is­tic only to ex­plore ideas up to about seven or eight years ahead (the av­er­age life­span of a ve­hi­cle) “to see a tan­gi­ble fu­ture”. We’d still like to see his of­fi­cial sketch­pad for 2024…

In re­gard to the fu­ture of Jag’s de­sign, Cal­lum penned the re­cently re­leased F-pace (the brand’s first SUV), which con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to a con­certed im­age overhaul. But, eight years af­ter the XF started the moderni­sa­tion of Jaguar, what’s next?

“Well, we’re go­ing into the next gen­er­a­tion of XJS and [other mod­els] and I want to shift into the next level of what we’ve al­ready done [with the likes of XF and XE].

“If you look at the cars now, we’ve de­lib­er­ately kept them the same. I took a bit of crit­i­cism for that, but that’s fine be­cause my ob­jec­tive was to make sure we built a fam­ily up that peo­ple would recog­nise.

“Jag’s big­gest prob­lem in the world is peo­ple don’t know what they are; they don’t see enough of them. And I thought one of the ways is to make them more sim­i­lar at the front so peo­ple recog­nise them as a Jag first and as the model af­ter.

“Once we get the scale out there that peo­ple start to recog­nise a Jag, we can start to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them a bit more, and that’s the plan I’ve got.”

With the XK axed (see break­out), the XJ will drive the next evo­lu­tion of Jaguars. It’s not due be­fore 2019 and that could be late enough for it to be in­flu­enced more dra­mat­i­cally by ever-ad­vanc­ing tech­nolo­gies.

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