All second-year students took part in our baby Jaguar competition. It was labelled ‘Project No Tech’ because the idea was to convey a plausible ‘look’ for the car entirely through sketches. The idea was to show as much knowledge of Jaguar’s past and present as possible. The ten best were pre-selected by RCA staff, including visiting professor Peter Stevens (forever famous as the designer of the McLaren F1) and Matt Humphries, former head of design at Morgan, now with his own consultancy.
The ten were reviewed by me, and with more help from RCA staff we first selected three standout entries and then – after much energetic discussion – a winner.
A narrow but unanimous winner, Korean-born Vera’s Jaguar took the decision on three important grounds: for “glamour”, for which a car entering this tough segment so late will undoubtedly need to be noticed; for the way judges felt that it acknowledged past and contemporary Jaguar design cues; and for an interesting use of light to define the whole of the car’s frontal features, greatly enhancing its identity in traffic and at night. The car had fine but believable proportions, plus “a classic feel”, the judges felt, and while indisputably modern, it avoided one of the key pitfalls of young designers’ work, which is to be too advanced for the chosen production date.
One key factor, if you’re going to give a small premium car the impact it needs, is to get the stance exactly right, says Yalim Erkaya, who hails from Turkey. For this exercise, he focused on the car’s silhouette — and stance. And because the proposed date for the design is only two years away, he worked hard to get the car’s volumes and door sizes looking believable, using long, straight lines to make the car look larger than it is and a fastback tail with a short overhang to combine practicality with sportiness. Judges admired the sculptural body sides, which helped to make a particular highlight of the rear shoulders and wheel arches.
Given that its deadly rival, the BMW 3-series, is one of the UK’s best-selling cars, this new Jaguar will pitch its maker right into the mainstream, says Ji-Won Yun, from South Korea. That’s why the new small saloon needs “one nice, big theme” about its design that accentuates the innate grace of the car, he believes, rather than lots of lovingly crafted details. Which is what his car’s shapely body sides are about. His research included a study of the many historic variations to the Jaguar grille and ‘face’, together with the suggestion that the bottom part of the grille needs extra emphasis.
Jaguar's rich history informed all the competition entries, but none better than Hoe Young Hwang’s proposals, commended by the judges. “I’m frustrated by the angry face of today’s cars,” he told us. “So I’ve tried to give my designs a hint of the E-type’s friendlier look.”
His proposal for a five-door liftback takes a prominent line from the centre of the front wheel, right across the roofline, to join up with a flying buttress at the rear, influenced by the XJS, which no other entrant attempted. It was experimental rather than practical, the judges decided.
Hwang’s more conservative four-door proposal is distinguished by a sporty stance and tight-fitting wheel arches. The car is nicely developed below the waist, but the upper body and rear window are less resolved. It’s clearly a Jaguar, with modern lines but classical connections.