Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new Jaguar F-Pace in Montenegro this week, the brand’s head of design, world-famous car designer Ian Callum, said that while the F-Pace is a very capable and sporty SUV, Jaguar’s brand heritage of producing sports cars needs to be respected.
According to Callum, the market research conducted by the brand showed a clear sign that the world demanded an SUV from Jaguar and that the F-Pace is unlikely to be the only one.
“Is it the right car for the world at this time? At the end of the day the customer decides and it was very clear to us when we asked around the world, particularly in China and the US, that this is what people wanted, so we produced it. If it’s successful, clearly we will think about doing more.” Callum said.
“But we don’t want to become 'the other SUV company', that’s very clear. Predominantly we are a sports car company, and my personal feeling is that if we are going to continue to be Jaguar and what it stands for, we need to keep the sports car element of it as strong as we possibly can.”
His comments come at a time when one other traditional sports car maker, Porsche, now sells significantly more SUVs than it does sports cars. But the reasons may be that the gap between the two is closer than ever. Callum says the days of SUVs being second-rate in terms of performance and dynamic capability are behind us.
“People didn’t used to make these sort of cars (sporty SUVs), because they used to fall over. They don’t fall over anymore, you can make these things drive like any other thing on the road. I think this car particularly, and the [Porsche] Macan, prove that you can take an SUV format and actually make it a good driver’s car," he said.
Even so, Callum admits that sports cars will never die, for they offer a sense of desirability that is hard to deliver with any other type of car.
“The reality is the world is moving to these sorts of vehicles, that’s what people want… People bought sports cars and sports cars are still relevant because they have a certain glamour to them which matters and it’s still relevant and will always be relevant because it will have the ultimate performance but [if] you think of the sports cars in the 60s and 70s, this [F-Pace] could out-do a Jaguar E-Type on a circuit.
“I am just convinced for driving reasons, for practical reasons and getting the whole shebang in there and doing everything for everybody, the world is moving to these sorts of vehicles," Callum said.
The Jaguar F-Type remains the sole purpose-built sports car in the Jaguar lineup, (in 2015 Jaguar sold 173 F-Types in Australia), however its influence across the current five-model lineup has been substantial, with cars such as the upcoming F-Pace SUV borrowing heavy design elements as well as powertrains from the two-seater Jag.