Fresh from a launch event that saw his new car barrelling through an abandoned warehouse in front of an audience strafed by searchlights and deafened by amplified engine roar, followed by a presentation to the world's media, Jaguar design director Ian Callum is still buzzing from the F-Type Coupé's positive reception. Callum once described the Coupé as the car he always wanted to design. It's taken the entirety of his long stint at Jaguar, a period marked by upheaval, transition and uncertainty before the new era was cemented by the Tata acquisition in 2008, to realise this dream.
We sat down with Jaguar design director Ian Callum following the launch to find out more...
How do you think the car has been received?
I'm loving the reaction to the car. I'm on the highest high since the launch of the [Aston Martin] DB7.
It's a beautiful car - probably the best in the show.
Thank you. It puzzles me why more people don't do beautiful cars. Beauty is an opinion, but I get confused and slightly angry with the idea of making something different for the sake of it. People fail to realise that 'different' usually manifests itself as ugly. Some things are intrinsically beautiful and simple.
How is the Coupé different to the Convertible model?
There was a feeling that perhaps the car should be higher [at the rear]. It's very low by modern standards - that's why it's got such a high deployable spoiler.
What's your favourite part of the car?
I'm most pleased with the big shape - the overall feel. I like the appearance of the cabin between the rear haunches - like a fuselage. It's hugely difficult to manufacture that haunch, one of the hardest things we've had to do. But ultimately it's exactly how we wanted it to be.
Jaguar has had its design revolution, so is it now settling into a more evolutionary period?
We're evolutionary at the moment because we have a family to grow. I can't go off on a tangent. Next year we will launch a small car and I want people to say, 'it's a Jaguar'.
How does the C-X17 SUV fit into this family? The C-X17 is such a departure for Jaguar in its very being - it's not a time to go and change your design philosophy.
Are your customers getting younger?
I'm not conscious of people's ages. The old XJ appealed to older people, because it was a traditional design. In China, the new model is seen as a young person's car. I leave the demographics of the perfect customer to the marketing guys.
What do you see when you look back at a design?
A car becomes a part of your life for three years, but there's often this moment when the car takes you by surprise and you suddenly realise what it looks like for the first time. I'll never forget the first time I saw a DB7 on the road - in a petrol station. I did a double-take and couldn't work out what it was for a few seconds. I'm looking forward to having that moment with this car.
Finally, do you think the F-Type will endure like the original E-Type?
I hope so. I do hope that in 30 or 40 years people will still crave after owning one of these cars.