Jaguar has met and cleared some mighty hurdles these past few years. Finding an all-new design style and applying it successfully to the new XK, XF and XJ saloons is a huge achievement. So is launching the F-type roadster, surely the most eagerly awaited sports car for some time.
Yet the removal of these hurdles serves only to reveal the toughest of all: Jaguar’s plan to produce a BMW 3-series rival, a car whose sales success could at last make Jaguar a reliable profit earner like its super-successful Land Rover stablemate. Although the new baby Jag is only a couple of years away, the company has so far proved remarkably adept at keeping its all-important shape away from prying eyes, especially our own.
Yet Autocar’s readers must not be denied. We can’t yet see into Jaguar’s inner design sanctum, so instead we put the task of creating an all-new D-segment Jaguar saloon for 2015 to some of the UK’s best car design students – the latest final-year postgraduate crop at London’s respected Royal College of Art – on the rationale that they’ll be the people creating such cars in a few years’ time. The RCA has trained many of the world’s most accomplished designers over five decades and annually recruits about 30 students from varied backgrounds at this time of the year.
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.