In 1990, Giugiaro unveiled its vision of how a modern Jaguar saloon would look - complete with self-opening doors and self-starting engine
Matt Burt
13 August 2015

Behold the Kensington, an early 1990s interpretation from the pen of the great Giorgetto Giugiaro of how future Jaguar saloons should look.

The car appeared as a styling model at the 1990 Geneva motor show and was later turned into a swooping prototype based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Jaguar XJ12 Sovereign HE.

Peter Robinson, at the time Autocar’s European editor, had the opportunity to drive the Kensington but was taken more with its technology than with its on-road manners or looks.

“Forget the controversial styling for one moment and consider Giugiaro’s Kensington Jaguar as perhaps the greatest automotive party trick of all time,” he wrote.

“You walk up to it holding a small device barely the size of a cigarette packet. On it are six small buttons. Stand 15ft away, point the control box at the car, press the appropriate button and there’s a mild clunk as the doors unlock.

“Nothing unusual in that – except this time it’s followed by a whirr and a click as the driver’s door begins to open. Believe me, it’s an eerie sensation, watching a car door extend out from the body, unaided by human hands.

“What happens next is even more bizarre. Squeeze another of the buttons and almost simultaneously the starter motor whirrs, as the Jaguar V12 engine fires up before quickly settling down to a smooth idle.

“You stare, not believing what you know to be true. The door is open, the engine running and your eyes tell you there’s nobody in the driver’s seat.

“No, it’s not done by trickery, just modern electronics. And both features can be expected to reach production cars during the coming decade.”

Driving the Kensington was broadly similar to driving contemporary V12-engined Jaguars, but the styling was a radical departure.

“What you’re most aware of with the Kensington is the startling change in interior ambience. In his quest to build a contemporary Jaguar, Giugiaro has forsaken the traditional timber interior.

“The sweeping, moulded plastic dashboard is massive, running off to the base of the windscreen and down a very wide, bulky console which contains a battery of LCD controls.

“The front quarter-light window is almost as wide at its base as the door’s opening window. In fact, the A-pillars are so long and steeply angled that you sit well back from the base of the windscreen. You see little of the bonnet, while rear visibility is also poor.”

Robinson reported that Jaguar executives had examined the car but had made no further contact.

“Giugiaro insists a ’90s Jaguar should look like the Kensington. Jaguar has its own interpretation of the future, but we won’t be allowed a preview of that until 1995 at the earliest,” he concluded.

Previous Throwback Thursdays

4 March 1899 - Steam, electric or combustion engine? 

26 June 1906 - The first French Grand Prix

9 July 1907 - The beginning of Brooklands

14 February 1913 - 100 miles in one hour

8 April 1916 - Making post-war predictions

25 March 1922 - Caterpillar tracks are the future

4 July 1925 - Citroën lights up the Eiffel Tower

2 February 1934 - The ethics of skidding

6 July 1934 - A tour of Cowley

1 June 1935 - Introduction of the driving test

22 June 1945 - Driving through post-WW2 Europe

21 January 1949 - Tidier tails

24 April 1959 - Aston Martin enters Formula 1

27 January 1961 - Ford Thunderbird road test

17 November 1961 - TVR Grantura road test

6 May 1971 - Driving Ford's Supervan

12 June 1976 - Cars for under £100

10 July 1976 - Land's End to John O'Groats on one tank

13 May 1978 - Ferrari 512 BB road test

19 January 1980 - Talbot Horizon road test

13 February 1982 - 4x4s tested on the farm 

17 April 1985 - Secrets of a lost British supercar

28 April 1993 - BL's unseen concepts

16 March 1994 - Bentley's Concept Java

16 April 1997 - When Bugatti bit the dust

4 April 2001 - 0-260mph in 6.0 seconds

25 July 2001 - 180mph in a Chevrolet Corvette

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13 August 2015
When the Mazda Xedos 6 came out in the UK in early 90's, I thought at the time that this is how a small Jag should have looked. Almost all it would have needed was a carefully integrated Jaguar dna grille. It sounded good too with petrol V6. Bearing in mind other car designs of the time, the Mazda was some way ahead in neat/taut styling, to my eyes at least, with not a single superfluous crease or awkward shut line to spoil it's graceful curves.

13 August 2015
Good point about the Xedos 6. I'd forgotten about that car but it was a very elegant design.

13 August 2015
Yes, I loved the Xedos 6 (and to a slightly lesser extent the Xedos 9) as well. Mazda turned out some really good-looking cars there but then went through one of their blandest phases straight afterwards.

That Giugiaro Jaguar design study is pretty bad, though. There's not a single thing I like about it.

13 August 2015 profile, at least, looks like the front end of a Vauxhall Senator grafted on to the back of a Skoda Octavia.

13 August 2015
Didn't Giugiaro go on to use the Kensington concept as a starting point for the (rather more humdrum) Daewoo Leganza?

13 August 2015
There's not many of Giugiaro's designs that I don't see some merit in, but he really droppped the ball with this one!

13 August 2015
Yes, its far from his best, it looks overweight and flabby. However, its way, way better than ANY of Callum's bland Toyota with E90 headlights efforts, I m mean at least it has some character and at least it looks a bit like a Jag.

XXXX just went POP.

13 August 2015
Talking of Italian Jaguar concepts, remember the Bertone B99 ? Deffo how modern Jags should look.

XXXX just went POP.

15 August 2015
typos1 wrote:

Talking of Italian Jaguar concepts, remember the Bertone B99 ? Deffo how modern Jags should look.

The B99 would certainly sell in America. It reminds me of last year's Dodge Charger, it's a very American look. The Kensington has a whiff of XJ220 saloon about it - it's the shape and angle of the side windows.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left


13 August 2015
Definitely not one of Giugiaro's better efforts. The profile was ok (and rather better than Jaguar's own droopy S-type!) but the front and rear ends were pretty poor. The front looked a bit like the original Volvo S70 and V70 (i.e. the facelifted 850). The rear end had ugly angular light units, meant to reference the Series 3 Jaguar XJ, but instead they just made the tail look ridiculously narrow. Yes, it was used as the basis for the Daewoo Leganza, and was claimed by some to have influenced the look of the Lexus GS.


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