The Jaguar E-Pace project began more than three years ago
Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum talks Mark Tisshaw around the car
Jaguar E-Pace design was led by the firm's design director Ian Callum.
Here he talks about his latest creation - and how it fits into an SUV family that will be three-strong by the end of the year.
Is it harder to design a smaller car?
"Yes, especially with the Jaguar psyche of the car being low and having length. It’s not a character of speed and motion here, its attitude. I want it to have its own character, with features like the chamfered corners. I knew we’d have longer overhangs with this, but that’s not in our psyche. I love problem-solving, so let’s go find a way to solve it. I enjoy it: some designers say they can’t do it as the overhangs would be too long. I embrace it, as it gives a character of its own at the other end and the car is better for it."
With packaging requirements, can small SUVs end up looking the same?
"Small SUVs are homogenised. We learned from making the F-Pace that the most important thing is practicality, not to be able to rush around the racetrack. You sit high in them; people enjoy that so the priorities are different. You do then tend to end up with a generic car and shape with the measurements, but we didn’t want to have generic looks. People should buy a car for looks. We’ve got a racy roofline, but there are adequate dimensions."
How long has this car been in the works?
"Three-and-a-half years, with the idea around for longer. We made a model and within months it was in the cycle plan. It hit the spot from the beginning, from bosses here and in India. This started as an idea before it took off and, while working on it, the segment itself has taken off. We’re in the right place at the right time."
Was there a nervousness about making a front-wheel-drive car again?
"It’s an SUV – the essence of it has been to do an SUV, not a transverse Jaguar. This was the architecture available to us. We have determined the packaging of the car, as with the F-Pace, from scratch. It’s flexible enough to have whatever size we wanted, such as with the wheelbase. We wanted a bigger wheelbase than Land Rover; we knew we could make it work."
Has Jaguar been held back from making cars like this in the past?
"The I-Pace is a more transformative car, but this will do more to the brand. Were we held back a bit before? Possibly, yeah. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was. I rebelled against it, and then I rebelled against an SUV. I was obsessed with us being a performance and sports car maker. The F-Type gave me that freedom of thought; I felt held back by the thought of doing an SUV pre doing a sports car. Once the F-Type is out there, the F-Pace becomes logical. The F-Pace came out at the right time. This is coming out at the right time. We have fixed the basics first – this is not an indulgence but a necessity. We’ve just gone from saloons to SUVs – we’ve crossed over."
Did you design the three SUVs alongside each other?
"We started with the F-Pace, did the I-Pace next, and then this. Confidence in these things is very important. Doing the F-Pace and getting the reaction we did, we felt we could stretch the boundaries. We understood the issue on making a pragmatic car. With this, we understood we couldn’t do a mini F-Pace – we needed to give it its own character. We need to get people into it because they like it – the Jaguar brand comes next."