This is the Jaguar E-Pace SUV, and if industry observers are to be believed we are going to be seeing a lot of it.
The new, smaller sister to the already highly successful F-Pace is predicted to become the best-selling model in the Jaguar range. As a result, Jaguar could soon emulate Porsche in becoming a brand with a performance image that actually sells more SUVs than sports cars or saloons.
In fact, demand for the E-Pace is predicted to be so significant that Jaguar has contracted out its production to Austrian firm Magna Steyr – none of JLR’s UK plants, which are working close to capacity, can accommodate such a major new model.
The E-Pace was unveiled on Thursday evening at a glitzy event staged at London’s Excel exhibition centre. The highlight of the entertainment saw stuntman Terry Grant set a record 15.3 metre, 270-degree barrel roll in the car.
When it arrives at UK Jaguar dealers, the E-Pace will be pitched as a significantly more sporty SUV than its larger F-Pace sister. Jaguar says that the styling of the E-Pace has been evolved directly from the F-Type sports car.
Buyers will be able to choose a version with a 300hp engine sending the car through 60mph from rest in under six seconds, and will also be able to select sporty 21-inch wheels from the options list.
Jaguar design director Ian Callum describes the E-Pace as ‘the sports car of its class’.
“Our new compact SUV combines the interior space, connectivity and security that families expect with the kind of proportions, purity of design and performance not usually associated with such a practical vehicle,” Callum says.
The E-Pace will also be the first front-wheel-drive Jaguar to go on sale since the X-Type saloon, that ceased production in 2009. However only entry-level E-Paces will be front propelled – all other models will have all-wheel-drive powertrains.
Another first sees the E-Pace offering the first engine line-up in the Jaguar Land Rover range to be comprised entirely of Ingenium units, built at the JLR engine plant near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. The choice ranges across three petrol and two diesel units.
Underneath the Jaguar E-Pace is constructed on the same architecture used on the Discovery Sport from sister brand Land Rover, though Jaguar’s engineers insist it has been specifically tailored to its new use. The car boats short front and rear overhangs, which place its large wheels at each corner, while a notable feature taken directly from the F-Type is the teardrop shape of the side windows.
Technology available to E-Pace drivers will include Configurable Dynamics technology, allowing the personalisation throttle, steering and transmission settings. Connectivity will also be a strong selling point, the car’s 4G wi-fi hotspot providing content streaming through up to eight devices simultaneously, while a Touch Pro infotainment system will allow occupants to access their favourite smart device apps through the car.
Jaguar E-Pace prices will start from £28,500, pitching it direct against the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 in one of the currently most competitive sectors of the UK car market. And it won’t be the final SUV from Jaguar – an all-electric model, the I-Pace, launches in 2018.