It’s funny how a mature and well-resolved design can make a car lack ‘surprise and delight’ appeal. Take the Jaguar XE – it’s a great looking car, superbly engineered and, after a quick drive, it was easy to conclude that it’s there or thereabouts at the head of one of the most competitive market sectors. However, seeing it in standard small-wheeled form in silver, it’s a little underwhelming in the looks department, and it leaves me wondering whether the (understandably) safety-first approach to its design, was entirely necessary?
A look back over some of the AROnline’s older pages had me stumble across the old Rover R55 design as penned by Richard Woolley’s Gaydon Design Team, back in the mid- to late-1990s (many of whom are still at Jaguar Land Rover). Here was a car that sported a (then) unconventional set of proportions, with a long-nosed, cab-back stance (thanks to longitudinal front-wheel drive set-up) and effortlessly laid-back detailing from a confident design team that fully understood the direction it wanted to take the company.
Yes, the Rover R55 looked absolutely stunning – unusual and jarring at first glance, but increasingly agreeable the longer you look at it. Now consider this for a moment: the picture above is at least 18 years old, as the R55 was photographed alongside a full-sized, pre-production fibreglass model of the 75.
Now look at the Jaguar: it’s nice looking on big wheels and in the right colours, but is it actually much of an evolution over the original Jaguar XF, launched in 2007? It looks like a car that’s not new or exciting, but an established member of the establishment. Okay, so the same could be said for the current Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series especially, and maybe that’s what’s needed, but I can’t help shes a tear for that wonderful R55, and how a little of its stardust might might well have lifted its grandson just a little.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.