Forget for a moment how car enthusiasts feel about possibly losing the joy of driving to the time efficiency and practicality of autonomous intervention and space utilization of pods like the Google Car. Imagine the daunting task students trying to design the cars of the future face.
Students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. spent 12 weeks under the direction of department director Stewart Reed and Jaguar designers to pick a path for the sports car Jaguar needs to build 15 years from now. And by looking at the projects presented at an August 4 reception, all these fears about driverless cars robbing enthusiasts of fun in the near-term are tempered for now.
For Jaguar, the desire to get young people’s input on future designs is immense. While sibling Land Rover continues to go from strength to strength on the back of the worldwide SUV boom, Jaguar is stuck in neutral. New, volume products like the XE, second-generation XF and first-ever crossover F-Pace are supposed to kick things up. But a bigger part still comes from the image of the leaper hood ornament on low, seductive XJ sedans of a generation or two ago – and the downright gorgeous E-Type that’s now a half-century old.
“Jaguar was always my dad’s favorite brand,” Richard Yoh said while we stood in front of his 2030 Jaguar design. But it was less about the wood glued to the dashboard and instead the overall elegance of the cars, he said.
But Yoh’s creation wasn’t rooted much in the past. His Sportbrake concept with sort-of F-Type lines was intended to capture Millennials by being all things.
“An iPhone does everything,” he said. “If a car can do that too, it can attract a whole new generation of buyers.”
And ironically, his shooting brake design is the F-Type variant enthusiasts want right now. All 17 of us.
Brad Kappel, who designed another exterior, learned from Jaguar’s tortured corporate history.
“Jaguar had a history of bad relationships before Tata came in,” he said.
Kappel’s presentation board showed the progression of the brand’s design since the late 1940s, and showed how he settled on a minimalist interpretation of the Jaguar grille, while envisioning some kind of muscle car, Mercedes-AMG GT rival at the top of their sports car range.
“In 15 years, what design elements are they going to own?” Kappel said.
And that was partially directed by the design brief and comments from Jaguar designers such as Julian Thomson and Adam Hatton as ideas went from the drawing board to actual computer-aided models that were shown at the reception.
“They would ask questions about you, your experiences and your reasons for the design,” Kappel said. “They’d make you rethink.”
Some students, like Maeva Ribas, think of Jaguar differently than those who are American born.
“Jaguar is a race car, not just a luxury car for a 60-year-old man,” said Ribas, who is from Monte Carlo.
Ribas took her inspiration from the brand’s Le Mans history, even calling her design the Mike Hawthorn Concept after the British racing driver. And in many ways, it looks like a next-generation F-Type.
The Hawthorn is a bit digitally remastered, with a vibrant take on British Racing Green on the outside and being designed for a turbocharged four-cylinder backed up with an electric motor driving the front wheels.
But just because the Jaguars of 2030 are expected to be crammed with technology even more so than today, judicious use of materials and color and texture isn’t lost.
Ji Young Lee was an interior designer and aimed to design a sports car cockpit that downplays displays and digital gauges for something that’s covered in copper leather and thick chrome detailing.
“Jaguar always has to have that luxury and elegance,” she said.
And seeing what a dozen design students think a British sports car will look like in 15 years, technology and luxury appear to be able to co-exist well in the future.
Photos courtesy of Jaguar