Jaguar is bulking up its SUV offering with the new Jaguar E-Pace all set to challenge the Audi Q3. Full details, video and pics…

You wait years for a Jaguar SUV, then three come along in quick succession. It was little over a year ago that the F-Pace arrived, winning Auto Express and World Car of the Year Awards in the process. Then we saw the stunning Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV concept unveiled at last year’s LA Show – it’s due to go on sale next year.

But beating it into showrooms will be this, the new Jaguar E-Pace, sitting unsurprisingly below the F-Pace in the line-up and arriving in the first few months of 2018 with prices starting at £28,500.

The E-Pace also heralds a couple of firsts: it’ll be the first Jaguar to be built outside of the UK (at Magna Steyr’s plant in Graz, Austria). And it’s also the first Jaguar to be available with front-wheel drive since the X-Type.

Jaguar E-Pace SUV launch - rear

Jaguar E-Pace: dimensions and design details

Jaguar is keen for the E-Pace not to be pigeonholed as a baby F-Pace with references to the F-Type sports car evident in the interior and exterior design.

“I wanted the relationship with the F-Type to be more obvious,” Jaguar’s Chief Designer Ian Callum told us.

That said, internally the E-Pace is referred to as the ‘cub’, hinting at the car’s relationship with the F-Pace. That’s also cheekily referenced in a small graphic around the edge of the windscreen with a mother Jaguar being followed by her cub – it’s also used in the puddle lighting.

Jaguar E-Pace SUV launch - steering wheel

But while the E-Pace has a bold, large grille like the F-Pace, the more upright all-LED front lights are more in the style of the F-Type giving the new SUV a look all its own.

“Our challenge was to accept all the facts about practicality that are important in this type of car and wrap it in a beautiful design. We want character in all our cars,” Callum told us.

Size-wise, the E-Pace is 4.4 meters long – similar to Audi’s Q3, although looking lower with its faster roofline. “The sweeping-off roofline gets some speed into the shape,” says Callum, “With the cut-in graphics in the doors breaking up the sides.”

“We’ve worked hard on the crisp surfacing, too, while the car had to have haunches.”

Those haunches were apparently tricky to engineer, but they add to the compact, sporty stance of the E-Pace. As does the rear treatment with sharper lines that pull back in around the number plate surround just beneath the rear window. The rear lights feature a smart new chicane graphic rather than the roundels on the current Jaguar range – something we’ll see replicated on future models.

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New Jaguar E-Pace: interior and technology

The cabin follows the F-Type theme. “It’s very much based on a sports car inside with just enough brightwork to make you feel like you’ve got value,” Callum tells us. There’s a 360-degree grab handle for the passenger on the side of the centre console, just like in the F-Type, although the dash itself is more futuristic.

The driver can specify a 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument panel and a head-up display, while there’s a central 10.2-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system as standard on all models. Sadly you’ll still have to make do with Jaguar’s InControl Pro suite of apps and connectivity rather than Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connections – that’s coming, eventually, Jaguar promises. Rotary controls for the climate control feature their own LED screens, but rather than use Jaguar’s rising rotary gear selector, there’s a sports stick shifter instead.

Jaguar E-Pace - front

Plenty of attention has been paid not only to the detail quality of the interior, but the practicality, too. “Customers want cars that are easy to use,” says Callum. So large door cubbies will hold big water bottles, while the lidded storage between the two front seats is big enough for a decent-size handbag.

And unlike in many other SUVs, the doors open right to the bottom of the car so you won’t be cleaning dirty sills with the back of your trouser legs when you get in and out.

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The boot is a spacious 577 litres with integral link suspension chosen for the rear, as much for its packaging benefits as its ride and handling traits – the boot floor is low and the opening wide.

Although the E-Pace is similar to the Audi Q3 in length, it offers Q5space inside, as chief engineer Gordon Wilkins explained: “We worked really hard to get the practicality right. I’m 6’3” and I’m able to sit in the back with the front seat set for me as a driver.”

As well as the storage space inside, there’ll be up to five USB points for charging and a 4G wifi hotspot that can feed up to eight devices.

Jaguar E-Pace: chassis and engines

The E-Pace may be built in Austria (and eventually in China for that market), but it shares much with the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport made in Halewood on Merseyside. The new car sits on a modified version of those models’ D8 platform, but with a longer wheelbase stretched to 2,681mm.

Wilkins is also keen to stress how the E-Pace has been given a Jaguar feel: Configurable Dynamics technology lets drivers personalise throttle, steering and transmission settings, while the Active Driveline and torque vectoring are set up to make the car feel like its rear-wheel drive. The steering has been heavily reconfigured, too.

Jaguar E-Pace - front

With engines mounted transversely the E-Pace will also be available with front-wheel drive, with an engine line up from Jaguar Land Rover’s four-cylinder, 2.0-litre Ingenium family featuring manual or nine-speed auto gearboxes.

You’ve got a choice of 150PS, 180PS and 240PS output diesels, or a pair of petrol turbo engines with 249PS or 300PS. The least powerful diesel claims CO2 output of 124g/km, while the 300PS petrol will get the E-Pace from 0-60mph in just 5.9 seconds.

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There’s no sign of any electrification of the E-Pace with hybrid or plug-in models – the I-Pace will bring that to Jaguar’s range later in 2018 and be built in the same Austrian factory. However use of aluminium for the bonnet and side panels, plus lightweight suspension components, help to keep weight down and efficiency up – Wilkins quoted a starting weight of 1700kg.

Jaguar E-Pace - glass roof

Jaguar E-Pace: trim levels and prices

Jaguar’s promising a high equipment count across S, SE and HSE trims with a sportier look inside and out if you opt for an R-Dynamic model.

And as seems to be the trend these days, the car will launch early next year with a First Edition model that’ll sit towards the top of the range with plenty of kit on board and a price well above the entry-level two-wheel drive car’s £28,500 sticker. E-Pace First Edition buyers will be able to choose from three colours, while the rest of the E-Pace range will be available with 11 different shades.

Jaguar E-Pace Q and A with Ian Callum, Jaguar Design Director

We grabbed Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum for an exclusive chat about the new E-pace and what it means for the brand…

Jaguar E-Pace - Ian Callum

The E-Pace really looks like a mix of Jaguar’s SUV design language – as seen on F-Pace – and sports car cues from the F-Type. Is that intentional?

Absolutely. We wanted the E-Pace to have its own character, its own place. So its headlights are from the F-Type – and why shouldn’t we do that? It’s a Sports Utility Vehicle, after all.

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But it’s hard to make a sports car out of an SUV.

Well, of course the E-Pace is fundamentally a taller car than the F-Type. But elements like the silhouette really give the appeal of a sports car. The window graphic drops off even further at the rear of the car, and the roofline gives the E-Pace a real sense of speed and dynamism. But it also works for interior space.

Then along the side you have a line that runs from the headlights and then fades away, as if with the stroke of the pen, at the rear door. At that point there’s another line appearing above it, and the overlap of these two features at the rear ‘haunch’ is very important. In fact, they look familiar because they’re off the F-Type. They’re beautiful lines. Let’s use them.

Jaguar E-Pace - front

The cabin’s a mix of elements as well.

Yes, but there are lots of F-Type elements in there. First, I’m a big fan of tactile switches; I know some people like a single screen with multiple controls but for me, in a Jaguar we should have switches – so we’ve got the dial controls for the temperature, for example. We were really inspired by camera lenses in those.

Then there are F-Type cues like the sporty gearlever – not a rotary controller like on the F-Pace – and the grab-handle centre console design. The steering wheel is similar to an F-Type’s too. You’ll feel you’re in a sporty car, as you should.

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This is the first car you’ve designed that’s fundamentally based on a transverse-engined front-drive platform. Were there any specific challenges?

The overhang beyond the front wheels can look a bit long. We worked really hard on that. In the end we’ve chamfered off as much as we can around the corners to make it look as though the front wheels are actually further forward than they are. It was tricky but I think it’s worked.

Jaguar E-Pace SUV launch - rear

Jaguar E-Pace SUV launch - front grille

Jaguar E-Pace SUV launch - badge

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Jaguar E-Pace SUV launch - steering wheel

Jaguar E-Pace SUV launch - seats

Jaguar E-Pace SUV launch - boot

Jaguar E-Pace - interior

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Jaguar E-Pace - Ian Callum

Jaguar E-Pace - front

Jaguar E-Pace - overhead

Jaguar E-Pace - rear

Jaguar E-Pace - steering wheel

Jaguar E-Pace - interior

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Jaguar E-Pace - front seats

Jaguar E-Pace - speedometer