In February this year, our spy photographers caught what looked like a modified Range Rover Evoque testing on roads near Jaguar Land Rover HQ in Gaydon, Warks. However, a DVLA plate check revealed the model in question was in fact registered as a Jaguar, not a Land Rover.
The car seen here is a later development mule of the new sub-F-Pace model, now with a more appropriate Jaguar bodyshell. It’s expected to go on sale within the next two years, priced from around £28,000. It was also previously thought to be called Jaguar E-Pace, although that name is now unlikely to be used.
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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. Four-wheel drive will be offered on the bulk of the range, though, including the more powerful variants.
This latest mule has been registered as a diesel-electric, 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.
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As the XF followed in the footsteps of the XE, we anticipate Jag’s smaller SUV to take design cues from the F-Pace. The flat nose – also evident on the Evoque mule – will remain, but with shorter overhangs (the alteration to the rear is particularly evident on this mule).
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 next year, ahead of showroom-ready models arriving in 2018.
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