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Jaguar E-Pace range boosted by new AI tech and engine

Jag's compact SUV gains Smart Settings system from I-Pace, while adaptive dampers and a third 2.0-litre petrol joins the range

Jaguar has introduced new self-learning technology to its Jaguar E-Pace SUV, in addition to a new petrol engine and the option of adaptive dampers.

Dubbed 'Smart Settings', the new AI-based tech first made its debut on the I-Pace electric SUV. Jaguar says that by learning the driver’s habits it’ll be able to reduce distractions with the ultimate goal of reducing the risk of accidents.

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The learning algorithm takes location, time, weather and driving patterns into account, suggesting or applying settings to optimise the car's set-up and make the various functions more easily available to the driver. There are eight profile slots available - ideal for fleet users.

It’s able to pre set a warmer interior temperature on a cold day or tap into your smartphone’s calendar to pre-select a navigation route to your next meeting. The predictive call list function means that if you, for example, always call your spouse when you leave work, Smart Settings will learn this and offer to make a call.

The new tech is offered as part of the Connect Pro Pack, which includes Jaguar’s top spec Navigation Pro system and a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.

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In addition to the new tech, the E-Pace is now offered with a third ‘Ingenium’ petrol engine. A new 197bhp 2.0-litre unit joins the existing 247bhp and 296bhp options; Jaguar says it’ll cover the 0-60mph dash in 7.7 seconds and achieve 34.4mpg. All three are now equipped with exhaust particulate filters to reduce emissions.

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Buyers will now be able to tweak ride and handling settings with the option of adaptive dampers. There’s a comfort-oriented Normal mode for everyday driving, and a firmer Dynamic setting to reduce body roll through the corners. The dampers will sense bumpy and off road conditions and automatically change the damping response to suit.

Order books for the new engine and tech are open now. The range starts from £28,500, with the new petrol model starting from £33,260.

• Jaguar E-Pace launches itself with amazing barrel roll jump

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.

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.

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“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.

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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. 

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.

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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.

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.

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Although the E-Pace is similar to the Audi Q3 in length, it offers Q5 space 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 also passes a couple of milestones: it's the first Jaguar to be built outside of the UK (at Magna Steyr’s plant in Graz, Austria), and the first to be available with front-wheel drive since the X-Type. Under the skin, it shares much with the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport made in Halewood on Merseyside. It sits on a modified version of those models’ D8 platform, but with a longer wheelbase stretched to 2,681mm.

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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.

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.

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You’ve got a choice of 148bhp, 178bhp and 237bhp output diesels, or petrol turbo engines with 197bhp, 247bhp or 296bhp. The least powerful diesel claims CO2 output of 124g/km, while the 300PS petrol gets the E-Pace from 0-60mph in just 5.9 seconds.

There’s no sign of any electrification of the E-Pace with hybrid or plug-in models – turn to the I-Pace for that. However, there's aluminium for the bonnet and side panels, plus lightweight suspension components, though with a starting weight of 1,700kg, it's still no lightweight.

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.

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A First Edition model will be availbale for the first 12 months, sitting 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...

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?

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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.

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

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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. 

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. 

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.

Have your say on the new Jaguar E-Pace in the comments section below...

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