At first glance, the new E-Pace small crossover may seem to have little in common with the brand’s sultry F-Type coupe, but according to Adam Hatton, creative director of Jaguar exterior design, this sports car provided plenty of inspiration.
To him, a vehicle’s stance is one of the most important components of its overall look. Ensuring the new E-Pace has appropriately planted proportions was no easy task for the Jaguar design team.
Since it’s based on a front-wheel-drive architecture, “The car has a longer front overhang than we’d normally sort of deal with, so we had to use lots of design devices or tricks of the eye if you’d like to reduce that front overhang,” explained Hatton. To help achieve this, they chiseled off the forward corners, “So, from rear three-quarter, the front overhang disappears and then you really… get this planted stance.”
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Ensuring it aligns with the rest of the Jaguar family, E-Pace features a familiar face, one dominated by a rounded rectangular grille that was inspired by what’s on the brand’s sports coupe. Hatton said, “We use the F-Type, obviously, as our halo car within design, to really give the customer of the E-Pace or one of our other products a bit of that kind of glamorous feeling of the F-Type.”
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Making sure everything was just right with the E-Pace’s design, Hatton said he and his team worked on clay models outdoors, enduring the brutality of England’s winter weather. “And this car was the car we’ve been outside with most. Just to set the graphics absolutely perfectly on the car.”
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They spent untold hours tweaking the front end, said Hatton. “We played around with the size, the texture of the grille inside there, to make sure it had the right character to this car. And obviously a big story was the headlights.”
Originally, the E-Pace was to be graced with horizontally shaped lamps because “it was going to be like sort of a baby brother to the F-Pace,” Hatton recounted. “But I said to Ian [Callum] one day, I said, ‘This car needs a different character,’ and he agreed, totally agreed. So, I said, ‘Let’s try something with the headlamp that comes up on the wing like an F-Type.” And that’s what they did, with LED elements and the brand’s signature j-shaped lighting graphic.
The E-Pace’s daylight opening, that’s the side glass in layman’s terms, features a kick up at the rear, just like on the F-Type. This, “Really gives a sense of speed and dynamism as well,” said Hatton.
Along the body’s flanks he explained that they’ve done a fine job creating chiseled and elegant forms. “So, we have sharp edges, but there’s a lot of purity, clean body shapes, lots of tension in those shapes,” noted Hatton. The surfacing here is “really pure,” with sharp lines only where required.
Inside, the E-Pace’s cabin is similarly elegant, with a certain cleanliness to its overall look. Hatton said its driver-focused layout, complete with a passenger grab handle, was clearly inspired by Jaguar’s sports car. “And then we have basically the same gear selector as the F-Type and it is the same steering wheel as the F-Type,” he added.
Aside from some of its more obvious design elements, the E-Pace also features quite a few surprises, from a jaguar cub integrated into the windshield frit to animal-print textures in certain areas of the cabin. “[There are] all sorts of clever little touches that we’d like to put within the design so that the customer can kind of see that as they get used to the car and they live with it and kind of discover these lovely, lovely elements,” said Hatton.
Sculpting the E-Pace was a diverse group of people. “We’ve got a great team of younger designers now who come from all different types of design, not just automotive,” said Hatton. “We’ve got fashion designers, watch designers, we’ve got, one of our female designers used to work in hotel design. I’d say probably half our team now are outside the automotive world, because customers who buy cars aren’t just car nuts.”
And the E-Pace should appeal to a suitably diverse group of drivers. “It’s oozing character and I think the customers of this car, this type of car, really want a car that has that kind of fun element,” said Hatton.
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