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 2.0l 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.