Is this the Jaguar E-Pace? UK spy shots of the 'baby F-Pace' on the road

12 Feb, 2016 2:40pm John McIlroy

Jaguar is planning a compact 'E-Pace' SUV model to slot in below the F-Pace, as our spy shots and exclusive pics show

We first brought you the news of Jaguar’s plan to introduce a compact SUV to sit below the F-Pace in June 2015 and now exclusive spy shots confirm the baby F-Pace is on its way.

The model is expected to be called E-Pace, and is codenamed internally as X540. Our spy photographers caught this Range Rover Evoque test mule in the Midlands – but the car is actually registered with the DVLA as a Jaguar, revealing that engineers have begun UK tuning of the smaller crossover that will sit below the F-Pace in the line-up. A public debut is expected next year, with sales due in 2018.

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The 2.0-litre diesel Evoque in our pictures also has a few modifications that reveal its true identity. Its wheelbase is slightly longer than normal and the rear track looks a little wider. The nose is slightly compressed and despite the disguise, it’s clear that a different radiator solution is being evaluated, pointing to early
work on the E-Pace’s cooling systems.

The test mule doesn’t give us a great indication of what to expect styling wise, but it’s likely that Jag will use a Russian doll approach like that seen on the XE and XF saloons; therefore, an evolutionary redesign of the larger F-Pace as seen in our exclusive image is to be expected. 

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However, the fact that Jaguar is using an Evoque at all proves that it has given up on the idea of basing its smaller crossover on the same aluminium chassis technology as the F-Pace. That’s likely to have been ruled out on grounds of cost and complexity – and forced Jaguar to look towards the Evoque’s simpler, older and considerably cheaper LR-MS platform.

LR-MS’s lineage can be traced back to the Ford-sourced chassis that underpinned the Freelander 2, but it is said to be flexible in terms of wheelbase – the larger Discovery Sport already uses it – and extremely cost-effective, since it allows Jaguar to benefit from sharing components bought for two big-selling Land Rovers.

The slightly stretched wheelbase gives us a better idea of how Jaguar is trying to slot its SUVs into the gaps between models from rivals. Adding 100mm to an Evoque’s set-up would give the E-Pace a wheelbase that’s only slightly shorter than a BMW X4’s, but a full 200mm less than an F-Pace’s.

The use of LR-MS does mean that the E-Pace is almost certain to be the first Jaguar to be offered only with four-cylinder engines. It’ll get Ingenium 2.0-litre petrol and diesels, paired mainly with JLR’s nine-speed auto transmission. An ultra-efficient version with a 148bhp diesel engine and a manual gearbox, called e-Capability, is also likely.

Jaguar is likely to outsource production of the car to Magna-Steyr in Austria – perhaps alongside the Evoque Convertible – although it could conceivably place the production line in its forthcoming facility in Slovakia, allowing it a greater profit margin than if the smallest model was built in the UK. The E-Pace should make up a fair chunk of the 200,000 models Jaguar aims to be selling globally by the end of the decade. 

Tell us what you think about the idea of a baby F-Pace in the comments section below...