The Jaguar F-Pace has just landed in New Zealand and already the British company is testing a smaller variant, such is the worldwide demand for SUVs.
The new model is expected to go into production in 2018 and powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) new family of Ingenium engines.
But it is unlikely to get the family’s new 3.0-litre inline sixes, even though they have been tried and tested in the engine bays of the XE and XF sedans and F-Pace.
“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.”
Entry-level models could therefore be front-wheel drive – the first Jaguar to use that layout since the X-Type. But most will get four-wheel drive, including the more powerful variants.
Petrol and diesel straight sixes will replace the current Ford-sourced V6s in JLR’s model range. The Ingenium family is of modular design, allowing the design, parts and manufacture of different engine sizes to be shared.
Inline sixes use fewer moving parts and weigh less than the equivalent capacity V6s, making them more fuel efficient and cheaper to build, despite their inherent packaging issues.
The smaller Jaguar SUV’s development began with a modified Range Rover Evoque mule testing on roads around JLR headquarters in the British Midlands.
Now the carmaker has taken things a step or two further and added an appropriate Jaguar bodyshell, although the SUV still sits on the Evoque platform.
It has to because Jaguar is not able to use a shortened version of the F-Pace chassis for the smaller vehicle. The Evoque platform also supports the Land Rover Discovery Sport and isn’t due for replacement until 2022 at the earliest.
The SUV mule pictured here takes its design cues from the F-Pace. The flat nose will remain, but with shorter overhangs. The same mule has reportedly been registered as a diesel-electric, hinting that JLR is working on alternative powertrains to help the Evoque chassis through the next decade.
Petrol or diesel-based hybrid technology would mean CO2 drops below 100gr/km, for fuel economy of 4.0-litres/100km (70mpg).