x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

'The old XJ was beautiful, but you have to move on'

Jaguar introduced its new XJ to Dubai this week and brought along Ian Callum, the man behind the car maker's recent design renaissance.

The XJ is an 'indulgent' car, according to Ian Callum.
The XJ is an 'indulgent' car, according to Ian Callum.

Jaguar introduced its new XJ this week and brought along Ian Callum, the man behind the car maker's recent design renaissance. We caught up with the award-winning designer at the show. You say the new car is designed to be a classic Jaguar, but what makes it a Jaguar? Ian Callum See, you can't tell anyone 40 years old or younger, their reference is that Jaguar is a traditional car. But my reference to Jaguar is from the 1960s when it used to be cool.

The rules we came up with are quite straightforward. First of all, we have to strive to get great proportions. And, therefore we challenge every millimetre to get a nicer roofline, or a lower trunk, or whatever. And that is the first point of attack, to get something that will be visually exciting. And if you look back at Jaguar, that's exactly what they did. The other point is to put some discipline in the Jaguar. It's not about fanciful or faster surfaces, it's pure and simple. Simplicity doesn't always mean easy; it takes a long time to make something simple. And of course every line, every shape just has to be easy on the eye. And if you can bring all these things together, you can create a Jaguar.

The grille of the car was inspired by the original XJ. I was fortunate because I was so familiar with every facet of that car, I grew up studying them. I was able to try and transfer the feeling of that car through sketches and thoughts and discussions. As a team, we all wanted change. We knew we could not continue on this path of repeating style time and time again; it wasn't sustainable. A lot of people say to me, "The old XJ was a beautiful car", and it was, but you have to move on.

With the XF and now the XJ, you've taken a different, more creative turn with the interiors. IC Inside, we built up a philosophy of what a Jaguar interior should be; it should be warm and inviting. We looked at cars like Audis, which I have a lot of respect for, and we wanted to take on the best for craftsmanship. We worked very hard to do the best we could on that, and I think we're there, really.

We also started out thinking that we have to use wood, because that's our trademark, and leather, and I think we use it more than anybody, but beyond that a simplicity of architecture was important. The XF is a more pure, pragmatic design, the XJ is more of an indulgent car. And we didn't want the cars to look like layers of each other, so we took a different approach with the XJ. What does the future hold?

IC We would like to expand the sports car range, but I can't say too much more other than that. But we're very optimistic. We do think we can put more car lines into Jaguar. We've built a solid foundation again, our market shares are increasing each month around the world, and the XF has outsold the 5 Series in the UK last month. We feel quite pleased about all that. People are waiting to drive the XJ, there are a lot of people in that position. I'm absolutely convinced it'll be a no-brainer - I'm driving one now in the UK, and it's a great car to drive. nvorano@thenational.ae