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Jaguar designer's hit list

Paul Gover
Herald Sun

4 Dec 2009 • 2 min read

Since cars all deliver on the same basic promise of personal mobility, and many vehicles do it with incredible value and panache, good design can often make the difference between buying and losing.

Ian Callum knows it and, after more than four decades of top-class design work on everything from HSV Holdens to Volvos, Aston Martins and now Jaguars, he is the right man to be talking. "This is a time of car design. It's not just styling any more. You really have to understand design, and the elements that make up a good design," Callum says. "We're also seeing a lot of change in the automotive world. The make-up of cars is changing. Designers are going to have an incredible influence."

Callum has revolutionised Jaguar design over the past 10 years and just visited Australia to showcase his all-new XJ flagship, which steps right away from anything which has previously worn the brand's leaper mascot. "I didn't want to be a slave to heritage," he says simply.

Callum believes good design is simple but incredibly difficult, elegant and timeless, but also challenging and filled with tiny little details. He is rare among designers because he backs his promises with commitment and talent, and is also happy to give an opinion.

So, then, how does he judge the work from some of his rivals? Surprisingly, Callum is happy to go on the record with a simple tick-or-cross verdict on the latest designs in showrooms.

Here are his ratings:
Aston Martin Rapide - tick
Audi A5 - tick
BMW GT - two crosses
BMW X6 - cross
Ferrari F458 Italia - tick
HSV EII Commodore - tick
Lexus LFA - tick
Mercedes E-Class - cross
Mercedes SLS Gullwing - cross
Nissan GT-R - cross
Porsche Panamera - cross
Rolls-Royce Ghost - tick
Toyota Prius - tick
Volkswagen Golf - tick