Concepts and prototypes : ItalDesign Kensington
In 1990, world-renowned carrozzeria ItalDesign unveiled its Kensington – a very Italian take on how the next Jaguar saloon should look like.
Could producing it for real given Jaguar its 2010 XJ moment 20 years earlier?
Words: Keith Adams
Redefining the leaping cat
One of the best known Jaguar prototypes produced by an Italian styling studio remains the striking Jaguar Kensington. When it was unveiled in 1990, it looked developed enough to be put into production, sitting as it did on an XJ12 floorpan, and being powered by Browns Lane running gear. But the project, drawn-up by Giorgetto Giugiaro and his team wasn’t sanctioned by Jaguar, and was considered very much a case of being ‘not invented here’ by the British company.
But it remains a fascinating concept, and one, which at the time was not considered ‘Jaguar’ enough in its overall appearance by most marque enthusiasts. But in light on Ian Callum’s XF and XJ revolution of the 21st century, we can look at this neatly styled car with a fresh perspective, and contemplate what would have happened had Jaguar put the Kensington into production during the early 1990s.
Certainly as the images in the gallery below clearly show, from certain angles the Kensington remains a very handsome car. Giugiaro was careful to ensure that it featured prominent ‘haunches’, a design signature that was consistent on all post-war Jaguars, barring the XJ-S. Inside, too, there was enough wood and leather to satisfy the most plutocratic owner/driver, but it was presented in a much more contemporary style.
Of course, the quad-headlamps were dropped, and that would have been controversial back in the 1990s – but again, as the XF and XJ have proved, it’s possible for a Jaguar to do without this feature.
So, what do you think? Would this car have done well, had it arrived on the scene in 1993 instead of the X300? Would it have set Jaguar on the course it’s now taking, but nearly two decades sooner? Or would it have been shunned by buyers who wanted Jaguars to look like Jaguars…?
Let us know what you think.