“We have a very clear definition of our brand’s DNA, and if you drove all our products consecutively, you would be able to experience that through every one,” Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Director of Vehicle Engineering, Mark Stanton, told Automotive Engineering at the international launch in Spain of the Jaguar XE.
This may sound like the introduction to a detailed description of how engineering and technology, in parallel with design and styling, set the initial criteria for the car. But it isn’t quite like that at JLR; the beginnings of the XE (previously described at http://articles.sae.org/13509/), arguably Jaguar’s most important product to date, can be traced back to the slightly ethereal, emotional, even psychological world of marketing.
“It all starts with marketing words, not technical or engineering terms,” said Stanton. “It is to establish a high-level description of the character of the new car, what Jaguar stands for, and initially to do so very much in marketing terms. We take marketing speak – such as ‘Grace, Space, and Pace’ and ‘The Art of Performance’—and turn it into our DNA.”
As Director of Vehicle Engineering, Stanton “owned” all the engineering attributes of the XE project and could oversee what was needed to create a product that epitomized those words. “It was quite easy; first we peeled down the ‘onion’ of attributes of the new model while keeping the word descriptions until we reached the point of physically creating engineering metrics to deliver on those words,” he said.
Stanton and the major teams were looking carefully at the XE’s potential competitors to ensure that the emerging car would be clearly delineated from everything else in its class: “We set out all the targets, referring constantly to the company ‘bible,’ which is our DNA.”
While it is the blend of attributes that achieves what is required, Stanton puts steering at the top of the list: “It is the heart and soul of the XE and the driver’s salient connection to the car. Our electric power steering may seem a bit quick to some, but it differentiates us from the competition and through it—within the first 50 meters of driving—you know you are in a Jaguar.”
After steering, the engineering focus is on chassis performance as a whole, followed by the sound of the engine. That aural requirement is fine for the snarly 250-kW (349-hp) V6—tested on the Navarra racetrack (Circuito de Navarra)—that is shared with the two-seat F-Type, but not so easy with JLR’s new 2.0-L Ingenium diesel. Designated AJ200D, it comes with a choice of power outputs: 118 or 132 kW (158 or 177 hp); the former achieves official CO2 emissions of 99 g/km and a best combined fuel consumption of 3.8 L/100 km.
Sampled by this Automotive Engineering editor, the engine provides a smooth almost turbine note at higher revs. “We want to put even more character into our diesels, and we have plans to potentially do that via technology,” Stanton added. That usually means active noise systems, but he insisted: “Positive noise: we don’t want anything that sounds artificial, it has got to be genuine.”
Some of the active sound systems experienced over the past couple of decades have been expensive and complex, he stated: “And they did not deliver that genuine DNA character; our expert owners will know if it’s not real!”
Another key criterion of the new XE’s creation was weight control, the car using a material mix with a preponderance (75%) of aluminum. Is weight saving plateauing? Stanton is adamant that more can be done: “We are moving on with the possibilities of different grades of material, and technology is further optimizing them. Putting steel in place is no bad thing. It has such good properties regarding crash performance and NVH—damping noise. Aluminum does not damp noise anywhere near as well. There will be far more use of mixed materials on our models and that will include carbon, which is becoming less costly.”
Stanton sees carbon used “locally” in a car’s structure for reinforcement in some areas where its characteristics are ideal: “At JLR, we’ll see weight continuing to reduce at quite a pace over the next few years.”
All versions of the new sedan have plenty of technology, including Jaguar’s new InControl infotainment system, which links a Google Android or Apple iOS smartphone to the car. The XE’s 8-in touchscreen, which has many modes, is capable of presenting a phone’s content. As that phone is updated via apps, so it updates the XE’s communications capability to introduce an open platform opportunity. Keeping on-board infotainment systems in step with smartphone advances is seen by Stanton as essential.
“People want, or expect, technology whether they use it or not. They may use only 5% of its capability but would not want the remaining 95% taken away! Making access to that technology for end users is very important, and it must be easy to operate.”
Questioned about JLR’s medium- to long-term R&D challenges, Stanton explained: “Our expansion is massive; we have 65 programs in place over the next five years. The environment and sustainability top our priority list—and that is in the broadest sense. We’re not just talking tailpipe emissions, but everything in which we are involved such as ensuring that our factories and the disposal of our products meet our environmental requirements. It means total life cycle analysis. But as you start to get into electrification, the equation changes dramatically—such as the construction of batteries and how that is part of vehicle manufacture.”
This seems to indicate more JLR hybrids, which Stanton confirmed, but he did not confirm a hybrid XE, partially on the grounds of cost-effectiveness in its targeted price range.
He is very cautious about engine downsizing: “Smaller is not necessarily better; a bigger, lazier engine may be the right solution, under real work load, than a smaller [one]. Our message is all about right-sizing of engines.” That is another up-beat opportunity for the marketeers as those 65 programs emerge.
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