Austrian-built Jaguar E-Pace aimed at Porsche Macan

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(July 17, 2017) Jaguar’s E-Pace small SUV, says the company, features an exterior design inspired by the F-Type sports car, and “is the sports car of its class.”  All of which means it’s aimed at Porsche’ Macan small SUV, and carries styling cues from the F-Type. But perhaps the most interesting fact about the E-Pace is that it will not be built in the UK initially.

With its factories currently close to capacity and not enough time for their expansion, the E-Pace will be built by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. Unless, of course, it’s headed for China. Those versions will be built at the Chery Jaguar Land Rover facility in Changshu.

One odd thing about the E-Pace is that there is no official measurement of its width. We know from the press kit that Jaguar’s new kitty is 173 inches long, sits on a 105.6-inch wheelbase, has front and rear overhangs of 34.8 and 32.8 inches respectively, can carry 24.2 cubic feet of luggage with the seats up (52.5 cubic feet with them down), and treats rear seat passengers to 35.1inches of leg room. But the width? Apparently that number is still a State secret.

Except in the U.S., where only gasoline engines will be offered, the E-Pace comes with a choice of gas and diesel engines. U.S. buyers can choose from a pair of twin-turn 2.0-liter “Ingenium” inline four-cylinder engines. These are based around a deep-skirt, thin-wall aluminum block with press-fit cast iron liners.

The P250 motor produces 250 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and 269 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,200-4,500, while the P300 pumps out 296 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. at the same rpm. Each is mated to a nine-speed ZF automatic transmission. Jaguar claims the P250 will push the E-Pace from 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds, while the P300 reduces this to just 5.9 seconds.

.Unlike the F-Type sports car, the E-Pace is built around Range Rover Evoque bits, and — therefore — has a transverse powertrain layout. All-wheel drive is standard, so owners won’t have to suffer the ignominy of sharing the road with drivers of cut-rate, front-drive E-Paces.

Those ordering the more powerful engine, however, will be able to look down their noses at P250 drivers as the Active Driveline all-wheel drive unit varies torque from front-to-rear and side-to-side. A pair of independent electronically controlled wet-plate clutches in the rear axle can direct 100% of rear wheel torque to either the right or left wheel in 100 millisecond (a.k.a. 0.1 seconds). In addition, software analyzes vehicle yaw rate, throttle position, steering angle and lateral acceleration to distribute torque where needed for agility, safety and performance.

Under normal conditions, torque is sent to the outside rear wheel to keep handling neutral. When understeer is detected, more torque is sent to the wheel. Should oversteer raise its head, both rear clutches are locked to provide yaw damping. though on low-friction surfaces a certain amount of oversteer is allowed to let the driver maintain a controlled drift until traction is regained. One other plus of the Active Driveline is the fitment of paddle shifters, something — along with the ability to disconnect drive to the rear wheels when all-wheel traction isn’t needed — the P250 E-Pace doesn’t offer.

An optional Configurable Dynamics package allows the driver to select the Normal or Dynamic drive settings for steering and throttle response, transmission shift speed and — if fitted — settings for the Adaptive Dynamics suspension. The latter item consists of a triple-tube damper with an externally mounted hydraulic valve to control damping response. It reads vehicle movement every two milliseconds and calculate damping force every 10 milliseconds. In addition, all E-Pace models come with JaguarDrive Control standard, which access four drive modes — Normal; Dynamic; Eco; and Rain, Ice and Snow — that can be used to tailor response to the driving conditions.

Torque vectoring is offered by braking selected wheels to mimic the effect of a torque-vectoring differentials and works under acceleration, deceleration or while braking. It’s intervention rate varies with the drive mode selected.

The hood, front fenders, tailgate and roof panel are all stamped from aluminum, with the hatch using a combination of rivets, adhesive bonding and laser welding. Magnesium is used of the lightweight cross-car beam that supports the instrument panel, and the use of 0.03-in. steel sheets for the bodysides reduced weight 7.7 lb.

Jaguar’s 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment touchscreen is standard, and uses common tablet/smartphone gestures. Its 21:9 wide format allows different content to be displayed side-by-side, and the Jaguar-designed system uses a quad-core process and an Ethernet network. Customers also can choose a 12.3-in. full-color TFT display to replace the gauges, and it can be configured to show everything from vehicle speed to 3D navigation. A head-up display is optional. There are two Meridian-developed premium sound systems, including an 825 Watt surround sound unit with a total of 15 speakers.

The E-Pace will be available in three core models, three R-Dynamic models, and a limited edition First Edition. Core models are powered by the 246 hp P250 engine, while the R-Dynamic vehicles are fitted with the more powerful 296 hp P300 motor. The First Edition features the P250 engine.

The E-Pace will go on sale at the start of 2018.

The Virtual Driver