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Thursday 10th November 2011


JAGUAR AND THE FUTURE OF FAST CARS

Design boss Ian Callum and Martin Brundle talk racing, Jaguar and how fast cars can still be relevant

UVs an attempt to get down with the kidz
UVs an attempt to get down with the kidz
PistonHeads scrubbed up posh to join Jag design boss Ian Callum and Martin Brundle for a bit of a chat about the future of motoring, Jaguar style.

Callum and Brundle were speaking at the Dunhill shop just off Berkeley Square in Mayfair, the swanky surroundings very much in keeping with Jag's traditionalist image. But the talk was of how Jaguar can stay relevant in the age of hybrids, downsizing and economic downturns.

Both Callum and Brundle apparently owe their careers to precocious bits of letter writing as youngsters, Callum approaching Bill Heynes and a teenage Brundle penning a "I want to be a racing driver" note to Tom Walkinshaw. Brundle was more immediately successful, Heynes responding to Callum's assertion that he wanted to design Jaguars with "well, that's Sir William Lyons' job!" As Callum says, "it took four decades but I finally made it!"

Jag says you can still enjoy this
Jag says you can still enjoy this
Their careers intersected some years later when Brundle drove the Callum-designed Nissan R390 at Le Mans in 1997, though not to quite the same success he'd enjoyed in 1990 in the Jaguar XJR-12. That and an early career driving Walkinshaw XJ-S racecars has obviously rubbed off on Brundle though, hence the head-to-head with Callum.

With the turbine-hybrid C-X75 and gorgeous C-X16 coupe it's clear Callum is on a bit of a roll at the moment. But the dilemma of how to make fast cars viable - justifiable even - in the current climate is one he's clearly aware of. Making the point that his XKR-S has more power than his first F1 car, Brundle asked Callum how to "keep speed relevant and credible before they legislate and smash it to bits?"

Hybrids can be sexy - most definitely!
Hybrids can be sexy - most definitely!
That's a worry many PHers would share no doubt, but one Callum seems to be less pessimistic about than many. "There are always these bragging rights, especially among the German brands," he acknowledged, "and you've got to keep up. But I think the world is changing and I think 0-60 time will be more important. A lot of people do say you can't drive a car that fast anymore, but actually you can, even in this country, and a lot of people go track driving. So I think there's still a relevance for speed. But overall I think the drive is going to be about agility. Top speed is peaking at about 300km/h and won't get much faster."

The C-X16, already spotted out testing at the 'Ring, is exactly the car to carry that mantra forward. But is it, in Brundle's view (and that of many others), the new E-type? A roll of eyes from Callum as the response and a groaned "the E-type is a cloud over my head!" might have caused a few bristling moustaches among traditional Jag fans present but he's clearly affectionate about the car.

Brundle started out with TWR and Jag
Brundle started out with TWR and Jag
Though not shackled to its legacy as many have been before him. "The E-Type is a car from 1961 and the C-X16 is a car for the 21st century." Agility and light weight are clearly very high on the agenda for the C-X16, Callum pointing to Jaguar's experience in aluminium as an example of the existing expertise in this area. "Mass is the enemy" is a catchphrase you might expect to hear from another iconic British brand, but it's clearly one Jaguar wants to claim as its own.

And what about engines? Callum clearly sees plenty of life in the petrol engine yet, pointing to the fact batteries add weight and cost to cars while 1.5-litre petrol engines with 300hp are within sight. If not quite as charismatic-sounding as the V8s we know and love in the spicier Jaguars like the XKR-S.

Callum says speed can still be relevant
Callum says speed can still be relevant
Hybrids will, inevitably, play a part with both the C-X16 and C-X75 benefitting from electrical assistance. With a mischievous glint in his eye Callum said the latter was his way of proving electric cars can be sexy too. And how.

Until then enjoy those V8s while you can. And we shall be very soon. Watch this space...

 

 

 

Author: Dan Trent