How Can Jaguar Design Stay ‘Exotic’ As The Company Builds More Cars?

Adam Hatton is a 17-year veteran of Jaguar’s design team and still tries to forget the “retro days.”

Some people in the industry shy away from the “r-word,” but Jaguar’s designers, at least, tend to admit they got stuck in 1968 for far too long. And standing around the work students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena created during their program with Jaguar this summer, Hatton should be encouraged many of the Jaguar influences come from this century.

Hatton, currently Chief Exterior Designer for Jaguar, has had a full plate of work in recent years. He was part of the team that nearly a decade ago created the C-XF, which was a thinly veiled prototype of the 2007 Jaguar XF. That car, along with the XK that premiered a year before, ushered in a new era for Jaguar design that finally started to ditch the cues from the ‘60s.

But where does Jaguar go now?

“It’s not a time to remake everything,” Hatton told Carscoops at the reception put on by the Art College of Design to show students’ interpretation of a 2030 Jaguar. “We have a very good brand now, the F-Type that started a new phase of design.”

It’s a new phase of design that’s going to be seen on a lot of Jaguar models soon. While the 2016 XF is a major benefactor of the F-Type’s cues, the more crucial models to get it are the new XE compact sedan and the upcoming F-Pace crossover – two models new for Jaguar and vital to growing the brand around the world. But part of Jaguar’s design successes in recent years have come from distinctiveness.

 “The design of the body has that exotic look that sets us apart from the competition,” Hatton said. And he says the challenge now is not to stretch that aesthetic too thin.

“The F-Type was Jaguar 2.0, and the F-Pace gives us a chance to develop that design,” Hatton said. 

The worry isn’t even so much whether Jaguar can do sports car looks with a non-sporty kind of car. Hatton points to the XF Sportbrake, launched in 2012, as one of his favorite designs that just happens to incorporate wagon practicality. And yes, we talked about how unfair it is Americans are deprived of the XF Sportbrake.

Jaguar F-Pace prototype

The arrival of the F-Pace is also significant because it is likely to usher in a big new era at Jaguar: the era of the crossover. As more luxury buyers move towards SUVs, the F-Pace could spawn as many larger and smaller siblings as Jaguar has sedans at the moment. No doubt, that will change the face of the brand. But its goal, Hatton says, is to break away from the luxury crossovers already on the market, as XF, XJ and F-Type did in their respective classes.

Even though Jaguar wants to more than double global sales to around 200,000 vehicles by the end of the decade, Hatton says the more expressive, and progressive, nature of the brand’s vehicles will continue to make them stand out from rivals. Jaguar doesn’t want to fall into the trap of one-design-fits-all.

Yet looking around the room at the designs the students created, Hatton sees the steps Jaguar needs to take in the medium term to secure the next generation of buyers.

“There is a love of Jag among the younger generation,” he said. “There’s a strong identity, emotion attached. A car is like the clothes you wear.”

Top photo: Adam Hatton and Julian Thomson, also of Jaguar design, critique Wayne Ho’s exterior design model for the 2030 Jaguar project. Art Center photos courtesy of Jaguar.

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