Jaguar looks poised to enter the compact SUV market in 2017, if these new scoop shots are anything to go by.
According to Autocar’s spy photographers, this test mule is registered to Jaguar and it appears to have an F-Pace-like nose cone and grille design, although judging by the signature LED running light design, the headlights are from the Range Rover Evoque.
Closer examination of the prototype shows that while the upper body looks like today’s Evoque, it has a slightly longer wheelbase and slightly wider rear track.
It’s thought that this vehicle is a very early prototype which, among other tests, is checking for snow ingress into the engine bay through the large F-Pace-inspired grille.
It seems possible that the new Jaguar SUV - tipped to be called E-Pace - will be spun off the new steel Land Rover Discovery Sport platform. The Jaguar F-Pace is based on JLR’s aluminium architecture.
While the new Land Rover model is longer and can accommodate seven passengers, this Jaguar is likely to be a strict five-seater that puts an emphasis on sporting handling and performance.
Any new Jaguar SUV would use the same range of petrol and diesel Ingenium engines as the Discovery Sport and Evoque and would be in line to receive future plug-in Ingenium-based hybrid powertrains.
It’s too early for any indications on pricing, but with the F-Pace kicking off at a highly competitive £35,000, any E-Pace could be something of a comparative bargain.
There’s no further hard news about a baby Jaguar SUV, but it could be made alongside the Discovery Sport at Halewood, even though the factory is currently at capacity as it also builds the big-selling Evoque.
Land Rover’s upcoming Brazilian factory is expected to make Discovery Sport models for the North American market, so US-bound E-Pace models could also be made at that factory.
It’s no surprise that JLR product planners want another Jaguar SUV. Not only is there a long waiting list for the first production F-Pace models, but recent figures from research organisation Edmunds in the US also show how SUVs and crossovers are increasingly becoming the norm.
While compact SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V accounted for just 5% of the US new car market in 2002, in 2015 they hit 13 per cent, just slightly behind traditional ‘mid-size’ saloons such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
Jaguar could expand its SUV line-up to include models larger and smaller than the F-Pace.