When the E-Pace arrives in Australia in April next year it will becomes the brand’s cheapest model, with pricing expected to start from $48,000 putting the new small crossover directly in the line-of-sight of competitors like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.
Jaguar’s director of design, Ian Callum, penned the new model to impart a sense of visual excitement, rather than outright utilitarianism, despite E-Pace’s role as an entry-level offering.
"We wanted something sporty so instead of doing something that was in keeping with other SUVs we went right to the other end and we emulated our F-Type sports car," he said.
"And as soon as you get into it you feel you're not in just another practical SUV, you're in something very special, very drivable but above all, something that's very exciting."
Part of Jaguar’s ability to give the E-Pace a coupe-like profile rather than a traditionally-boxy SUV shape comes through sister-brand Land Rover’s more conventional approach SUV design.
Land Rover has also lent its small-to-medium SUV platform to the E-Pace, and although it may not be immediately obvious the same transverse-engined platform that underpins the Land Rover Discovery Sport also sits under the more swoopy E-Pace.
Overseas buyers will be able to order base-model E-Pace variants with a manual transmission and front wheel drive, but Australian customers will stick with a nine-speed automatic and all wheel drive layout, even in the cheapest model.
Jaguar Land Rover’s latest range of 2.0-litre diesel and turbocharged petrol Ingenium engines will be available, starting with a 110kW diesel and stepping through 132kW and 177kW output versions of the same diesel engine, while the petrol engine outputs either 183kW or 221kW in what is likely to be the range-topping version costing about $85,000.
Acceleration figures vary from a rather pedestrian 10.5 second 0-100 km/h sprint for the entry-level diesel down to a more rapid 6.4 seconds in the 221kW petrol version. Consumption for the base diesel is rated at 5.6 l/100km with the high-output petrol consuming up to 8.0 l/100km.
Despite Jaguar’s expertise in aluminium construction, the E-Pace sticks with a more traditional steel structure, but makes use of the lighter metal for the bonnet, roof, and tailgate, saving around 30 kilograms and helping lower the centre of gravity.
At 4395mm long, the E-Pace is some 336mm shorter than the F-Pace (and only millimetres longer than a Q3) but it is no lightweight with automatic AWD versions ranging from 1843 to 1926kg.
Jaguar hasn’t entirely gone for form over function though, with 577 litres of cargo space in the rear, back seats that can fit a pair of adults without too much squeezing, door pockets that can handle a full-size water bottle, and a centre console “mega bin” between the front seats containing a tray with two cupholders and space for a mobile phone. Remove the tray, and there's enough room for two wine bottles.
Although all wheel drive is available, Jaguar isn’t making any hard-core claims about the off-road abilities of the E-Pace, instead the the so-called Active Driveline should provide more secure traction in slippery conditions, with the ability to push all drive to the rear for more sporty handling, or keep a lid on fuel consumption by sending 100 percent to the front wheels when cruising.
The suspension system is Jaguar’s own, designed to integrate with the shared platform, featuring a version of the F-Pace's sophisticated five-link independent rear end, with available adjustable dampers to tailor ride comfort and handling stiffness as part of the optional Adaptive Dynamics package.
As well as the borrowed platform, Jaguar will also adopt Land Rover’s naming convention for the first time with S, SE, and HSE model grades. Plus an R Dynamic version of each that adds sportier exterior touches including a more aggressive front bumper with mesh-grille openings, and alloy wheels up to 21-inches in size.
Other bits taken from the existing Jaguar Land rover range include an available 12.3-inch TFT instrument panel and a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Smartphone and app connectivity is also available, and to reflect the E-Pace’s younger target audience the interior is equipped with up to five USB ports.
The outdoor activity key of the F-Pace, which is basically a water and shock-proof transponder allowing vehicle access after energetic outings while leaving the main key locked in the vehicle will also join the E-Pace’s options list.
Jaguar predicts that around 80 percent of E-Pace customers will be new to the brand which should lead to another sales boost for the brand, following on from the 83 percent sales jump experienced over the last 12 months, largely attributed to the F-Pace.
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