Wilkins said that being natively front-wheel drive was no barrier to the E-Pace handling how Jaguar thinks its cars should. “If we do a car like this, it needs to drive how it looks,” he said.
“We needed no excuses. We chose an architecture that could do the looks and the drive with all the changes we’ve made, and there’s a 300PS [296bhp] petrol version. There’s no excuse.”
The E-Pace has MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, and Jaguar has tuned the chassis, along with the four-wheel-drive control system and Adaptive Dynamics dampers, for a sporty on-road drive. To that end, the camber has also been changed on the front axle and there is a semi-solid mounting for the front sub-frame for a more connected steering feel.
“It has a high driving position and great all-wheel drive, but it drives like a Jaguar,” said Wilkins. Alongside standard all-wheel-drive, top-of-the range diesel and petrol models have Active Driveline all-wheel-drive. Wilkins explained: “The Active Driveline system and the torque bias make it feel rear-wheel drive. It’s tuned to feel fun and energy like in a rear-wheel-drive car. It has all-wheel-drive capability, but it drives like a Jaguar.”
The car, which weighs 1700kg, is much heavier than its main competitors. Jaguar counters by saying that its D8 architecture has authentic SUV capability, unlike that of its road-biased rivals. The use of high-strength steel in the structure helps to reduce the weight, says Wilkins, while aluminium is used for the boot lid, bonnet and fenders.
The E-Pace is 4345mm long, 1984mm wide and 1649mm high, with a wheelbase of 2681mm. This makes it one of the shorter cars in its class (the X1 is 4439mm long and the Q5 4388mm) but boot space is above average among its peers at 480 litres. That is 25 litres down on the X1 but 60 litres up on the Q3.