Luxury Cars – Why car design is about calm
Accountable (or sustainable, responsible, authentic, or whichever buzz word you want to use) design is necessary, but it isn’t quite the language of someone in their 50s, 60s or 70s, many of whom constitute a significant percentage of Jaguar’s market (and everyone’s – the average age of a new car buyer in the UK is 56). How do you make desirable cars that appeal to different generations? Luxury for a 70-year-old consumer might be about leather, wood and highly polished surfaces – the precise opposite of the vegan, minimalist interior that might suit a millennial with cash to burn. “For us, it’s talking about the whole experience – from tactility to overall impressions when you see a car and get into it. That’s bringing in sustainability as well as focusing on traditional materials like woods and leathers, but bringing a transparent approach to that.” In other words, you might have wood in a car but it would be carefully sourced from a managed supply.
“Luxury is about reducing things and coming to that essential point of showing beautiful, simple designs. And it’s about a real sense of calm which we’ve really brought into the 21MY F-Pace and I-Pace – visual harmony, calm and serenity. I know everyone talks about well-being but it’s also about peacefulness, and concentrating on the road. Within I-Pace you have different sound settings. I put mine on quiet – when I accelerate I love not hearing anything. The experience of driving a car now is less about the confusion and all-sensory experience, and more about peacefulness – the peace that you can get from electric cars is just amazing.”
Whelan offers me a “really inspiring” quote from a 1960s Jaguar MK X brochure: “Fitments are functional as well as luxurious. Unnecessary adornments are avoided, for superfluous touches would only distract from the theme of a Jaguar – good taste and correctness.” It just shows that, while trends come and go, good taste endures. “That could apply to a beautiful hotel room or a gorgeous B&O stereo,” says Whelan. Even now, it can really be applied to the most modern and forward-looking of luxury designs.”
SpeedWeek image by Dominic James.