If you launch a new model and suddenly find that your sales have jumped about 50%, you might be inclined to think you are onto a winning thing. Jaguar clearly is, because after selling over 50 000 examples of its F-Pace in 2016, the company has not only announced an all-electric I-Pace crossover, but now this, the E-Pace.
Set to go on sale in SA early in 2018, it is Jag’s attempt to take on the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Porsche Macan and Range Rover Evoque — the latter, of course, being in the same Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) stable.
Unlike the Evoque, Jag says that the E-Pace is a “compact performance SUV (sport utility vehicle) with sports car looks”. That might sound familiar: Porsche describes its Macan as “the sports car of SUVs”.
The design is already a giveaway that there is sports car DNA in there. The company says that the design has been inspired by the F-Type, and that is most evident in the front and rear lights. It also features sports-car-like short front and rear overhangs.
At 4 396mm long, it is shorter than the Macan, with a wheelbase that is also shorter than its Stuttgart rival by 126mm. Interestingly though, it will boast a 577l standard boot space, 77l more than the Porsche.
The E-Pace will get a full suite of JLR’s Ingenium engines, although Jaguar SA has yet to confirm exactly which models we will get here. All engines will be 2.0-litre with the three diesel choices of 110kW, 132kW or 177kW. Two turbocharged petrol engines will be available delivering 183kW or 221kW. All models will get a ZF nine-speed box. Jag hasn’t given full performance details yet but has said that the 221kW petrol will be able to hit 100km/h in 6.4 seconds.
Underpinning the E-Pace will be a new active driveline all-wheel drive system, which is designed to deliver a rear-wheel drive bias.
There is also an Integral Link rear suspension that aims to deliver both comfort and good dynamics, and it is all linked to a configurable dynamics system and an adaptive dynamics system, the latter setting up the suspension and chassis, depending on the driving style.
Tech will include a 12.3-inch full-colour touchscreen infotainment system as well as a new head-up display that provides 66% more information than the system available in other Jaguar models at the moment.
Connectivity is also a main feature, with a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect up to eight devices.
Another tech item that JLR is very proud of is the activity key, which allows you to leave your E-Pace in a field with the key inside and lock the car using a wristband, which then stays securely on your wrist while you hit the nearest mountain-bike trail. You don’t have to be a cyclist though — the bracelet is also waterproof so you could use it when you do the Midmar Mile. We might just drop it in a glass of water and see what happens.
Expect loads of safety features to carry the model through a five-to-seven-year lifecycle, including lane-keeping assist, driver-condition monitoring, pedestrian detection, autonomous emergency braking, forward-traffic detection and a pedestrian airbag. Strangely, Jaguar has said very little about autonomous driving systems in the E-Pace, at least for now.
The model line-up will include both the standard E-Pace and the E-Pace R-Dynamic, both of which can be specified with S, SE or HSE packages. Like the F-Pace, there will also be first edition models, available for the first year, which will boast unique colours, interior trim and equipment.
With the E-Pace, Jaguar is showing that it is serious about being a major SUV player. Rumour has it that the company is also developing a J-Pace to go up against the Audi Q7. It seems that the days when we saw Jag as purely a sedan manufacturer are disappearing at a rather rapid pace. – Mark Smyth