Jaguar explores new territories with F-Pace

The F-Pace is Jaguar‘s first sports utility in its 70-year history. Designing an SUV was not an easy task for a marque associated with a low, long and sleek vernacular, and with such a rich sports car heritage. ‘The customer wanted one,’ admits Ian Callum, ‘It is a practical car but with the spirit of Jaguar,’ adds the design director.

We’re in Frankfurt at the biannual international motor show. The previous evening the F-Pace proved its claim as the ‘sportiest SUV’ by breaking the Guinness world record, and defining gravity, on the largest ever loop the loop completed by a road car. Witnessing stunt driver Terry Grant race inside the 19.08m tall, 360-degree circle was pretty spectacular.

The F-Pace unveiled at Frankfurt is a production car closely based on the 2013 C-X17 concept study. It’s underpinnings are the marque’s lightweight aluminium architecture which has allowed the design team the freedom to create a car with ‘latent poise, a svelte car with attitude,’ smiles Callum.

‘Of course a crossover is vertically more challenging,’ admits Al Whelan as we caught up with him on the Jaguar Land Rover show stand, ‘but in many ways the intensive aluminium architecture helped us set up the building blocks,’ says the chief designer, adding, ‘You get this right, and the Jaguar traits follow from that.’

It also allowed for a roomier cabin. The F-Pace can accommodate five adults and there is a versatile 650/1740-litre cargo space. The doors come alive with Jaguar’s signature blue ambiance lighting, and the optional panoramic roof expands almost the entire length of the car suggesting a more spacious cabin.

This is a highly intelligent car too, featuring the marque’s latest 8-inch touchscreen and infotainment system, with an optional 10.2-inch InControl Pro system, which can connect up to eight devices to a wi-fi hotspot in the car.

Whelan sees most of the competitors in the small crossover category producing quite similar proportions, ‘long overhangs and short rear overhangs, and balanced looking side views,’ he says.

So, when two years ago the team came to envisage a Jaguar crossover with the C-X17 concept, Callum insisted on taking the marque’s most recent designs, in particular the DNA of the F-Type coupé, as inspiration.

Whelan explains they set out to create a unique typography with the F-Pace ‘with a long bonnet, lots of tension on the side view, and of course big wheels,’ he smiles. ‘The key was to keep it sleek and exciting and I think we have achieved this.’

The F-Pace is handsome in the metal – subtly translating the Jaguar form language to a car that by nature should defy this. Callum had asked his design team to embrace Jaguar’s sporting heritage, extract some of the theories from the evocative cars in the company’s rich back catalogue, and apply it to the F-Pace.

The overall vision was ‘for it to be softer, more refined, and more muscular interpretation,’ notes Whelan. ‘We introduced the two strong character lines from the F-Type coupé, the long front fender and the rear haunch… and it all started to work.’

Nargess Banks

A full report from the Frankfurt Motor Show was published in Wallpaper*.

Read more about Jaguar design here.

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Trends from the Frankfurt Motor Show

Frankfurt is Europe’s largest and most significant car show where we get to see new trends in design and technology, and gauge the future of mobility. This year, however, there really wasn’t a unified voice – instead car companies appear to be finding their own solutions.

The popularity of the compact luxury crossover type car remains as strong as ever with most premium marque’s offering their take on this. Jaguar’s C-X17 perhaps took centre stage for its excellent execution and maintaining the brand feel. Other highlights were the Infiniti Q30, fusing hatch, coupé and crossover styles to create a rather sensual sculpture.

Audi’s Sport Quattro coupé is also a welcome edition as it marks the return of the 80s icon. Plus it was great to finally see the production BMW i8, the second car to join the electric sub-brand, which maintains much of the concept car’s intriguing design for a distinctive BMW electric vernacular.

Read our full report on the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show here.





Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | | Published by Banksthomas

Giles Taylor on the Rolls-Royce Wraith

The Rolls-Royce Wraith references the glamour of old Hollywood with the elegant Deco inspired sweep of its long fastback body – think Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s most stylish of movies To Catch a Thief. Displaying this Ghost-based coupé seems to be a self-conscious separation by the marque from the supercar power struggle that dominated the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in March, where this car was first revealed to us. This doesn’t mean this is a whimsical car, though – the Wraith is the most powerful and sporty car Rolls-Royce has ever built.

‘We have gone out of our way to make this a car in its own right. This is very much designed to be a gentleman’s GT,’ explains Giles Taylor. ‘This may sound exclusive to women, but I believe this is very unisex car,’ notes the design director as I catch up with him at the show. He leads me to the coach doors, which he notes ‘have all the glamour and expression that will appeal to lady drivers’. He says balancing duality is a very Rolls-Royce quality. ‘We don’t go overtly in one direction.’

From initial sketch to the Wraith we see before us took three and half years involving a team of five designers. Giles says his team don’t work in an ‘automotive cocoon’. He says: ‘We are designers who love design and will go to the Monaco yacht show and Milan design fair  to be inspired. So many of our solutions are not automotive related.’

The proportions of the car express what’s beneath the metal, he explains. ‘There is a very powerful engine at the front so we need to express this. To reference heritage we felt it needed this wonderfully tensile silhouette. The teardrop look makes the car look like it can go fast.’

The car was designed to be in two-tone. Giles explains that this begins to break the car into modules and creates a stronger architectural sense. Rolls customers naturally opt for the bespoke colour combinations for which five are offered on the upper deck and 32 on the lower. ‘We allow our customers to pick-and-mix but there are things we wouldn’t recommend. We are keen for a personal statement to creep into your choice.’

Over at Goodwood, where the cars are assembled, over 500,000 colours are on offer and the team can mix and match almost any shade. It all dates back to the days of Valentino who famously ordered a purple Rolls and Marlene Dietrich’s emerald green Phantom II that was specified to match her favourite necklace. ‘There is the glamour side of our brand that we can’t deny,’ Giles smiles.

The styling is cinematic – step inside and you are transported to the set of To Catch a Thief, you can almost see yourself cruising along the snaky roads of 1950s Côte d’Azur. Giles is clearly delighted with this observation: ‘As a design team we look at Cary’s jacket and Grace’s dusty pink dress [in the film] and visualise how we would get that colour in the interior.’

The heavy coach doors can be ordered shut with a press of a button; the boot too has sensors that triggers it to close automatically. The cabin is cosy with its soft leather seats and brown sheepskin floor mats. It is also contemporary in its treatment of natural texture wood, a play on balancing the analogue and digital on the dashboard, and the racy graphics that light up the roof at night.

The Wraith, the designer feels, is perhaps for a Rolls customer with a more ‘spirited approach to life’. The saloon, he notes, has more formality and is a car that lends itself to being chauffeured. ‘We’re expanding beyond our traditional customer base and reaching out to a younger minded person in certain regions,’ says the designer candidly. ‘In China our customers are very young, and many are women. So for us it is a case of putting a contemporary edge to this product.’

Read my interview with the Rolls-Royce chief executive officer Torsten Müller-Ötvös in Wallpaper* and the making Rolls-Royce cars at Goodwood here.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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Car design trends from Geneva

The Geneva Motor Show is one of the main yearly international exhibitions that tend to focus primarily on design studies and future trends. This year, sadly, the displays were generally of ‘real’ cars – automobiles that are made for today’s world but tend to lack the visionary insight to make them relevant to the bigger picture of mobility.

This is a real shame as for the last few years we have been teased with a promise of a future urban setting free of the traditional automobile where clean hubs transport us autonomously in this wirelessly connected utopia. These are the sort of interesting concepts we witnessed at the Frankfurt and Tokyo shows last year.

Nevertheless there were some thought provoking ideas at Geneva as well as a few very attractive cars that may seem completely absurd given our economical and ecological situation, but remain simply pure objects of desire. We visited the show and spoke with a number of key car designers. Read the full review published in Wallpaper*.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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Tokyo Motor Show 2011 in picture

Japanese car design is an interesting mix of a thoroughly modern minimalist aesthetic and stylised animation. It really is different and exciting to witness some of the work created by local designers at the motor show that took place in Tokyo earlier this month.

Car design here sits at the polar side of German car design that is usually perfect and polished. In Japan it seems to be more of a refection of their inventiveness and playfulness.

Small urban commuters and pure sports cars – mostly with a focus on sustainability – were the main themes of this year’s show.

Read my full review published in Wallpaper*.


Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©