More than a year after taking a successful swipe at the sport utility market, Jaguar is poised to pounce yet again with the all-new E-Pace.
But don’t let the bizarre naming convention fool you: The E-Pace is no electrified ride; for that, you’ll have to wait on the pending I-Pace that will soon sit atop Jaguar’s SUV offerings. Instead the automaker is after a share of surging small sport utility sales, with the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace set to take on the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, among others.
Stylistically speaking, this new SUV appears to have more in common with the F-Type sports car than the F-Pace sport utility, with plenty of design cues pulled from the latest version of the handsome two-door. The head- and taillights, for example, are dead-ringers for the units on the 2018 Jaguar F-Type, while the two models’ front fascias have their fair share of similarities.
“We wanted to give E-Pace a very different look from F-Pace,” said Wayne Burgess, the man who heads up the design team behind it. “It made sense to sort of take the sports car design philosophy and apply it in a much more indulgent way. The idea of taking the front end of F-Type and applying it to a compact SUV was one of several ideas we tried, but we liked the challenge of it.
“It would’ve been much easier to just scale down an F-Pace, and I think half of the world would’ve been expecting that. (Instead) it gave us something really quite unique; it’s playful and youthful in a way that I think a scaled down F-Pace maybe wouldn’t have delivered.”
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To that end, you’d be hard-pressed to find many folks willing to call the E-Pace unattractive both inside and out. From the pronounced shoulders and character lines right down to the shape of the seats, it exudes style everywhere you look.
Proportionally, the E-Pace takes a slightly different approach than its larger SUV sibling, though the same elongated hood is found here. Even still, there are hints of a hatchback-like silhouette, and this entry-level Jaguar could easily be mistaken for one if it weren’t for the pronounced wheel arches and exaggerated ride height.
In terms of dimensions, the E-Pace measures up well with any of its German adversaries. It’s underpinned by the same platform that both the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport ride on, and is a substantial 13 inches (330 millimeters) shorter than the F-Pace. Jaguar’s product folks are also quick to point out that because it rides on a purpose-built Land Rover platform and not one from a car like the Jaguar XE, the E-Pace is a proper sport utility vehicle.
Despite being built on such a platform, the development team made all kinds of chassis changes to make it feel more like a Jaguar than a Land Rover. The front and rear suspension has been swapped out for a multi-link setup that will most likely make it feel like a baby F-Pace in its ride and handling. Elsewhere, the camber stiffness has been cranked up a few notches, and the steering rack has been mounted directly to the unibody for improved responsiveness. Expect something a little on the rigid side as a result.
A full suite of four-cylinder engines will be on offer around the world, though it’s probably not worth holding your breath in hopes of a diesel making its way to these shores anytime soon. Instead, the 2.0-liter turbocharged Ingenium unit the brand plans to put into just about everything moving forward will suffice, with output varying depending on trim. There are 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque on tap in base, S and SE models of the E-Pace, while output jumps to 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque in the top R-Dynamic models.
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Sending that to the pavement will be a nine-speed automatic transmission built by ZF, while all North American versions will be fitted with all-wheel drive. E-Pace models making less power will make the sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds (zero to 100 km/h in seven seconds flat), while any of the three E-Pace R-Dynamic models will do the same run in 5.9 seconds (zero to 100 km/h in 6.4 seconds).
A chance to crawl around inside revealed an impressively spacious cabin that benefits from a modest half-inch (13 mm) of additional length compared to the four-door Range Rover Evoque by adding it all to rear passenger legroom. Elsewhere inside, the E-Pace gets a competitive 24.2 cu-ft (685 liters) of cargo room behind the rear seats, and 52.5 cu-ft (1,487 liters) with them folded.
The interior also gets all the latest tech JLR has been packing into its products these days, with the added bonus of more than one USB port. (No, seriously. The product team said it will be available with as many as five of them — one for each seating position.) It will also come wired for mobile Wi-Fi, with the ability to connect as many as eight devices simultaneously, and a massive touchscreen infotainment interface.
With a starting price of $38,600 ($44,300 in Canada, all prices include destination), the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace is substantially more expensive than existing entries in the segment, with most priced a few thousand dollars less. Keeping in mind the E-Pace skips out on a stripped-down front-wheel-drive model, that’s still a lot of scratch for a small SUV. That pricing also means it undercuts the larger F-Pace by just a few thousand dollars, though Jaguar doesn’t anticipate much internal strife based on size alone. The fully loaded R-Dynamic HSE is priced at $53,100 ($58,900 in Canada). Expect the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace to hit dealers early next year.
To introduce the car in style, Jaguar set a new Guinness World Record by performing a barrel roll with the new E-Pace. Watch a video of it below.