Interview: Ian Callum Jaguar E-Pace

Interview: Ian Callum Jaguar E-Pace

The new Jaguar E-Pace

“I didn’t want it to be a small F-Pace,” says Jaguar designer Ian Callum of the company’s new compact SUV, the E-PACE.

At the global launch of the Jaguar E-Pace, design head Ian Callum was up front about the new car and its design, a departure from the F-Pace. As part of the main presentation, Callum said Jaguars should be assertive and not aggressive.

The Redline sat down with the man who has arguably designed more beautiful cars than anyone else alive today – and almost singlehandedly rebooted the Jaguar look – and talked about the new E-Pace.

While there’s a clear family link to the F-Pace, the E-Pace’s muscular look owes as much to the F-Type as the F-Pace. Callum told the gathering that the team called the car “the Cub. The E-Pace’s look was derived unashamedly from the F-Type.”

Jaguars should never be aggressive.

“Jaguars should never be aggressive. We want it to look precise. People love small animals because they have big eyes and big paws,” he said, referring to the headlights and optional 21-inch wheels.

“Assertive has a bit of respect about it, aggressive has a bit of dislike about it. And there is a subtle difference. We can respect assertive people, we don’t like aggressive people. There is a difference and I think a Jaguar has to have a confident, assertive look. There are some aggressive cars out there, with grilles the size of houses, grilles that do something strange. They’re very aggressive and people don’t warm to them very well.”

“Because it’s a beautiful car brand, it’s not a car brand that wants to shout any more than it has to. It’s part of its capital.”

As part of the team’s effort to reduce the visual impact of the front overhang – a result of the transverse engine placement – the corners are chamfered off. If you look at the car from overhead, you can see where the front corners are buffed away. It also makes the car look less bluff from down the road.

Design is a moving feast

“We temper the sides of the grille, make it look bigger. There are other factors that determine that, like the position of the cooling and that sort of stuff. We do temper [the aggression]. It’s interesting how the whole graphic, the front faces of cars are definitely changing. What might have been aggressive before is becoming quite tame. That’s a bit of a moving feast.”

“You look at the latest Audi A8, it’s got the most enormous grille in the world,” he laughed. “The next one is just going to fill up the car, isn’t it? You have to temper it to the mood of the time.”

Moving on to the decision to use the F-Type style of light to suit the proportion and profile of the car, I asked how long that creative process took.

“We started with the first models that came out of Advanced [Engineering], it probably took us a good six to seven months to get us to the design that we’ve got. It’s a long time. The best designs look easy. This was not an easy car. This took ages, to balance it. You haven’t got room to move, it’s a very small package. It took a long, long time to get it right. And I think it shows.”

“I didn’t want it to be a small F-Pace. As we started off, it was turning out too much of a small F-Pace. And we said, ‘Guys, we’ve kind of already done that with the XE and the XF, we’re not doing it again.’ So that was another motivator to do something very different.”