LOS ANGELES – Jaguar Land Rover is energizing its dual product lines with the 2-seat Jaguar F-Type that summons the streamlined precision and energy of the classic E-Type sports car, as well as a sleek rethinking of the masculine functionality of the Range Rover SUV.
Together, the F-Type and Range Rover “make a powerful statement about our brands, as well as the vision and capabilities of Jaguar Land Rover as a company,” Andy Goss, president-Jaguar Land Rover North America, said at the recent auto show here.
Ian Callum, Jaguar’s chief designer, says preserving the “beauty of line and purity of surface” has long been Jaguar’s guiding philosophy. When styling the F-type, his design team remained mindful that “every millimeter counts.”
The F-Type is styled to make its presence felt as it roars down the highway, Callum says. The car’s so-called “power bulge” serves as an aggressive design statement, as today’s engines are more compact and no longer require the hood space to accommodate earlier in-line 6-cyl. engines.
The vented slats of the front valance begin a line that extends over the wheel arches and smoothes into the door panels. The line extends into a second crease that reaches to the rear quarter panels and flows off the back end of the car.
The F-Type’s strong profile will work well in the U.S., Callum says. “There’s no room for being demure or apologetic in this country. I’ve learned that.”
Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s design director, traces the evolution of the Range Rover from its Spartan beginnings in 1970, when it was a true utilitarian vehicle.
Over time, several design elements have become synonymous with the SUV, from the floating-roof appearance due to blackened roof pillars to the vehicles’ upright attitude and, perhaps most notably, the 50-50 ratio between metal and glass.
McGovern says the styling changes to the fourth generation were tantamount to “replacing an icon.”
“(The Range Rover) is to the SUV world of design what I suppose the Porsche 911 is to the world of sports-car design,” he says. “In fact, it is unique. It’s distinctive; it’s peerless. I’m talking now in terms of Range Rover as a whole. There’s nothing else quite like it, after 42 years.”
The SUV can be driven on Rodeo Drive or in the Rockies, he says. It’s as comfortable at the Sydney Opera House as it is in the Outback. It’s that “duality of purpose” that has made the model so enduring.
In its search for a fresh design, Land Rover’s design team challenged the vehicle’s basic appeal, functionality, sustainability, luxury and, in particular, flexibility. Their dedication to change followed the notable success of the more-streamlined Evoque, which has garnered scores of international design awards.
What McGovern and his staff arrived at with the ’13 Range Rover looks markedly different from the vehicle’s early generations. The roofline has a noticeable taper, and the raked windshield forms a line down to the center of the front wheel, leaving the SUV with a more aggressive front fascia.
The signature balance between glass and metal has given way to a smaller cab. However, back-row passengers have 4.7 ins. (12 cm) more legroom than in the outgoing model. And the interior has been engineered to offer occupants a sense of “serene isolation.”
Land Rover rigorously optimized the body structure and applied acoustic lamination to the windshield and door glass, significantly reducing noise levels. Meanwhile, the new suspension architecture provides the Range Rover improved ride comfort, refinement and control.
The all-aluminum unibody structure is 39% lighter than the steel body of the ’12 model, for a total vehicle weight savings of up to 926 lbs. (420 kg). The U.S. model is powered by a naturally aspirated, 5.0L V-8 that is about 700 lbs. (318 kg) lighter than the outgoing equivalent.
The Range Rover offered in North America also will feature Land Rover’s new 8-speedautomatic transmission.
The fourth-generation Range Rover is more relevant to today’s world, “and even more desirable,” says McGovern. “It’s unmistakably a Range Rover, but it’s a new Range Rover for a new era.”