Jag’s future laid bare
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.