Jaguar Land Rover is looking at a smaller version of the upcoming F-Pace SUV to play catch-up on the global crossover craze.
The so-called E-Pace (above is an artist’s impression) is at an early evaluation stage, as planners investigate whether there is space in the line-up alongside the conceptually similar F-Pace.
The bean-counters’ projections apparently suggest a second Jaguar crossover model would generate enough volume to boost Jaguar’s bottom line, provided it was based on the low-cost, all-steel Land Rover D8 platform of the Range Rover Evoque.
Pairing the E-Pace with the aluminium-intensive Jaguar XE/F-Pace would almost certainly break the budget, say analysts. But using the D8 platform – on which the new Discovery Sport is also based – makes a compelling business case.
The D8 is an evolution of Ford’s ancient C/D platform which underpinned the Freelander. Its architecture is simple to tweak, relatively cheap to build, and totally flexible in terms of bodystyle variations and engineering content.
E-Pace is still in its infancy and ultimately may prove to researchers to be too close to Evoque for comfort. But the D8 platform would allow JLR to quickly downsize it to compete in another, smaller segment, that occupied by the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
Whatever happens, it is unlikely an E-Pace would be seen before the end of the decade. It if it does eventuate, it would be set up, like the bigger F-Pace, for performing more on road than off.
The F-Pace will be unveiled at next month’s Frankfurt motor show and design chief Ian Callum has said it will be no more off-road savvy than Jaguar’s regular passenger cars when it lands in NZ around the middle of next year.
He said he designed Jaguar’s first SUV to be part of a cohesive Jaguar family and didn’t seek guidance from joint partner and off-road specialist Land Rover.
“It’s very much geared towards road use and urban use and country use rather than something that’s an all-out SUV,” Callum said.
“Land Rover do have the departure angle standards but we haven’t adhered to them. But it does qualify as an SUV in a country like the US where there are certain standards for ground clearance and the like.”