By on March 26, 2019

While Jaguar is working towards padding out its utility lineup, the company has yet to deliver anything exceptionally large. Though not minuscule, neither the midsize F-Pace or smaller E-Pace are capable of swaying someone in the market for an Escalade — and don’t get us started on the slow-selling I-Pace (above).

The company needs a hit, especially now that Chinese sales have fallen off a cliff and the rest of the world cannot make up the difference. Sedans sales are floundering. As Jaguar Land Rover explores cost-cutting measures (mainly staff reductions and a scaling back of R&D), it’s also attempting to simultaneously improve its corporate fuel economy average while anticipating Britain and the EU’s next move re: Brexit. It’s a bad situation and the only saving grace is the company’s SUVs.

Fortunately, JLR has a bundle of new vehicles on the way, all borrowing the new MLA platform. Still a couple of years away, introductory models are said to include the fifth-generation Range Rover and Jaguar’s J-Pace. Jag’s new, larger SUV offering is shaping up a little different than expected, as reports claim Jag has abandoned mechanical all-wheel drive.

According to Autocar, the J-Pace will be an amalgamation of the I-Pace and its more-traditional crossovers in both form and function. Sized to be the biggest utility vehicle in Jaguar’s fleet when it launches (around 193 inches in length), the auto will exist as a plug-in hybrid with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. Meanwhile, the front axle with mate to an internal combustion unit — likely the new Ingenium straight-six Jag’s been gushing about.

From Autocar:

Using an electric motor on the back axle provides a number of advantages. Dropping the mechanical connection to the back wheels, including the propshaft and power take-off unit, allows more room for the battery pack and improves space inside the cabin, eliminating the traditional centre tunnel.

The electric axle should also make for a significant improvement in handling and during off-road work. The speed and precise, controllable nature of the electric motor’s power delivery should improve on-road handling, especially on corners and poor surfaces, as well as providing very fine control of the torque being fed to the rear wheels when driving off-road.

It’s a similar setup to what we experienced in the new Toyota Prius AWD-e, and should function much the same way — only with a lower threshold for getting the rear-wheels involved and much more overall power. Unlike the AWD Prius, the J-Pace is rumored to have the ability to cruise around under electric power at lower speeds. Autocar claims 50 miles in “favorable conditions” is the company’s minimum target.

Beyond that, all we know is that MLA is supposed to be a pretty versatile platform. In addition to this somewhat unique PHEV setup, it’s also capable of producing mild-hybrid and pure-electric vehicles. While JLR initially hinted that MLA could do mechanical all-wheel drive, the company hasn’t brought it up much since last summer. Autocar claims traditional all-wheel drive is on the chopping block, but we’d rather wait until official word arrives from Jaguar. After all, the J-Pace isn’t scheduled to arrive until 2021.

[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]

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10 Comments on “Jaguar’s J-Pace Gradually Takes Shape...”

  • avatar

    An inline 6 with FWD? Should be interesting. I am surprised all the smaller luxury players aren’t abandoning their huge flagship sedans for crossovers. I don’t think this will reverse Jag’s fortunes though. The brand is done.

  • avatar

    Why is there a Jaguar fording a river? I feel like I’m in freaking Crazytown.

  • avatar

    What I don’t understand is the obsession with hybrids and their batteries/added electronics which are the weak links. The E-AWD thing in theory makes sense for fwd based drivetrains for the reasons listed, but why not scrap the battery packs and just use a heavy duty alternator to supply the juice whenever rear wheel assist is needed? Kind of a riff on how diesel electric locomotives work. That would GREATLY simplify the whole layout, and since fwd based crossovers rarely leave pavement it would be MORE than adequate. Such a system would be a revelation for anyone who is deterred from manual transmissions on account of being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. A ‘commute mode’ allowing the engine to idle with the transmission in neutral while crawling off the electric motor would save clutches and knees.

    • 0 avatar

      The electronics will have to be the same for your battery-less hybrid, and in any case batteries are not a weak link. Batteries are much simpler and more reliable than the myriad of ICE-only tech required to meet future emissions and fuel economy regs.

  • avatar

    I loved the i-Pace until I heard the range and then the real range people are getting.

  • avatar

    Hang on a minute the I Pace is a hit for Jaguar. They have a large waiting list, are in the top 5 sales in countries like Norway and Netherlands where owning an electric car is seemingly mandatory and are on track to sell over 30,000 a year. That might not sound much but remember it’s list price is quite high to start with and it’s effectively competing with cars like the BMW 7 series. Indeed last time I looked it was going to give the 7 series a run for its money.

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