Jaguar is plotting a second entrant into the ultra competitive SUV market sector with a stablemate for the mid-sized F-Pace – a smaller, baby F-Pace which could take on the E-Pace moniker when it arrives on sale next year.
The pre-production car wears heavy masking to disguise its looks, but it’s possible to make out the overall shape of the car and how it packs F-Pace design traits into a smaller, chunkier package with shorter overhangs. Compared with our previous spy shots, little, if anything about the upcoming baby Jaguar SUV has changed.
We spied the car for the first time early last year, our photographers spotting a modified Range Rover Evoque testing on roads near JLR headquarters in Gaydon, Warks. Since then we’ve recieved sporadic sightings of the car wearing a far more appropriate F-Pace inspired disguise.
An earlier sighting and DVLA licence check revealed that one of the baby SUV mules has been registered as a 2.0-litre diesel electric hybrid, hinting that JLR is working on alternative powertrains to help the LR-MS chassis through the next decade. Petrol or diesel-based hybrid tech would see CO2 drop below 100g/km, and could allow fuel economy of more than 70mpg.
As with the Evoque, the baby Jag is unlikely to benefit from more powerful six-cylinder engines, focusing on refined four-cylinder units. The E-Pace is expected to go on sale in 2018, priced from around £28,000.
Due to design constraints, Jaguar is not able to use a shortened version of the F-Pace’s chassis for the smaller car. Instead, the new model is expected to be based on the smaller (and older) Evoque. This is the same LR-MS chassis found on the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which isn’t due for replacement until 2022 at the earliest – proving there’s plenty of life in the platform.
Jaguar’s chief designer Ian Callum suggested earlier this year that any smaller model would need to move to a transverse-engined layout. “We’ve done front-wheel-drive studies, because everybody knows that if you go smaller than XE or F-Pace, you’ve no choice but to go that way,” he said.“The only way you’re going to get the look on the car is to turn the engine sideways. It is challenging, and we’ve clearly looked at how we could do it. You get that long snout otherwise, which looks out of proportion.”
As such, entry-level editions of the small car could be front-wheel drive – the first Jag to use that layout since the X-Type, and the extremely short rear overhang suggests Jaguar is testing a platform with front-wheel-drive in mind. Four-wheel drive will be offered on the bulk of the range, though, including the more powerful variants.
This is likely to ensure a smaller cabin and reduced boot space, although the car should be more than a match for rivals like the BMW X1 and forthcoming Mercedes GLB. It will be more practical than an Evoque, too, as its wheelbase should be slightly longer.
We’d expect official information to be revealed at some point this year, ahead of showroom-ready models arriving next year.