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First look: Jaguar's bold styling approach

Great expectations: The R-D6 concept provides a reasonable indication of what can be expected in the next generation XK, due in 2005.

Frankfurt concept promises more innovation in Jaguar's future styling

16 Sep 2003

JAGUAR will ditch its "softly softly" styling approach with the next generation XJ sedan, promises chief stylist Ian Callum.

Speaking exclusively to GoAuto at the Frankfurt motor show, Mr Callum said: “The intention for the next generation (XJ) is to depart from the norm.” The current XJ, which was launched last year, has won accolades for its excellent all-round dynamics, but some critics say it looks too much like its predecessor. Its conservative lines are in stark contrast to another key player in the segment – BMW’s 7 Series, which lies at the opposite end of the styling spectrum.

Although he has promised a more bold styling approach in the future, Mr Callum is complimentary of the current XJ – which was more or less signed off by the time he joined Jaguar. "It sits well on the road and it sits well with its intended market. If you take away the front end, it’s quite different from its predecessor," he said.

Before he tackles the next generation XJ, Mr Callum has the task of penning the replacement for the XK and S-Type. Some clues to the successors to these vehicles can be found in the stunning R-D6 concept car, which was one of the showstoppers at Frankfurt.

"The R-D6 is not intended for production," Jaguar boss Mike Wright said. "The idea of the concept is to gauge the market. We’re very keen to test reaction to this car." The R-D6 is not just a hollow clay mock-up. It is a fully functional vehicle, powered by an all-new 170kW 3.0-litre turbo-diesel unit that will soon be offered in the S-Type. The diesel has enough grunt to propel the 1500kg R-D6 to a top speed of 150mph (240km/h) and enables it to accelerate to 60mph (96km/h) in six seconds.

The R-D6 draws some inspiration from Mazda’s stunning RX-8 and it uses the same overlapping-door concept.

"I like the idea of the freestyle doors," Mr Callum said. "It’s very strong structurally as the B-pillar is integrated in the doors." Like the XJ sedan, the R-D6 makes extensive use of aluminium in its underpinnings and most of its body panels. Measuring just 4330mm long, the R-D6 is not much longer than an Audi TT, yet the four-seater’s sliding bench rear seat can double the boot’s storage area.

Although Mr Callum would not say as much, the R-D6 provides a reasonable indication of what we can expect in the next generation XK, due in 2005. The concept may also spawn an additional coupe/sedan that will be positioned in a lower price segment.

Asked to volunteer his thoughts on what was the star of the Frankfurt show, Mr Callum singled out the striking Audi Le Mans concept car. As for his thoughts on BMW’s 6 Series coupe, which also debuted at Frankfurt: "Interesting".


JAGUAR boss Mike Wright says the brand needs to appeal to a more dynamic, youthful audience if it is to achieve its full potential.

"We’ve asked ourselves: ‘Do we have the passion and desire in our products?’ I think we do with some of them, but we need to re-establish connectivity with youth," he said.

"A Volvo will always be a Volvo and Jaguar will always be a beautiful fast car - and the next generation will certainly be beautiful fast cars." Mr Wright said the R-D6 was significant in that it was evidence of Jaguar’s willingness to break from tradition.

"Sir William Lyons (Jaguar’s founder) was never afraid to innovate and I am sure that this is exactly the sort of progress which he would embrace," Mr Wright said.

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