The new Jaguar E-Pace will compete with compact SUVs like the Audi Q3.

Jaguar is adding a second utility vehicle to its line-up, the compact E-Pace set to make its debut in London next month, with sales set to start in early 2018.

The compact performance utility vehicle will complement the bigger F-Pace which has already become the British marque’s best-seller since going on sale last year. Meanwhile, Jaguar is working up a third ute, the battery-powered I-Pace that is still more than a year from coming to market.

While Jaguar is saving a number of details for the London debut on July 13 it has already confirmed that the E-Pace will carry a base price of $38,600 – plus delivery fees – or about $3,000 less than the starting price for the 2017 F-Pace.

The new model will be based on a shortened version of the Lightweight Aluminum Architecture used for the F-Pace, as well as the 2016 Jaguar XF and the XE compact luxury sedan. That means that the E-Pace will have a bit less mass than competing, steel utility vehicles, which should translate into a more nimble ride, improved performance and better handling.

How much smaller the E-Pace will be than Jaguar’s current utility vehicle isn’t certain, the F-Pace featuring a 113-inch wheelbase, on the long side for its midsize segment. The new utility vehicle will be a two-row model with seating for five. Expect it to be sized and outfitted to go up against the likes of the Audi Q3.

The E-Pace will share underpinnings and design language with Jaguar's larger F-Pace.

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Expect the E-Pace to share many of the basic design cues that debuted with the bigger F-Pace. That includes the mesh grille, the sweeping headlamps, with their J-shaped LED running lights, the coupe-like curve to the roofline, and taillights clearly influenced by Jaguar’s F-Type sports car.

“The combination of sports car looks with Jaguar performance will ensure that the E-PACE stands out,” said Jaguar design director Ian Callum, in a prepared statement. “Every Jaguar is designed to excite the senses, and we think E-PACE will do just that, albeit with its own individual character.”

While Jaguar isn’t talking specifics, it would seem likely the E-Pace will retain a double-wishbone front suspension and an Integral Link rear, pretty much state of the art among today’s utility vehicles, which have moved away from classic SUV design to put more emphasis on road manners than off-road capabilities.

Also likely will be an electric power-assist steering that is speed sensitive and uses a variable pitch gear set intended to make it more responsive the more the driver turns the wheel.

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As for E-Pace powertrain options, Jaguar is only saying the new model, “features standard all-wheel drive technology and an all-Ingenium line-up of petrol engines.” No diesels are in the offing, at least for the U.S. market, it appears.

We’ll have to see if the E-Pace will offer the same powertrain line-up as the bigger F-Pace, two versions of a 3.0-liter supercharged V-8, one turning out 340-horsepower, the other 380, and both paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Jaguar's electric I-Pace will use a unique, skateboard-like platform with batteries in its load floor.

Other hints from design director Callum? Expect “a suite of connected technology and convenience features.”

The base price of $38,600 doesn’t include $995 for delivery charges. That puts it a good $7,000 more than what Audi’s Q3 starts at. That would suggest that Jaguar will be loading the E-Pace up, rather than charging extra for everything from its all-wheel-drive system to various advanced safety features.

The decision to add a second utility vehicle is no surprise at a time when both mainstream and luxury buyers by the millions are abandoning traditional sedans and coupes for SUVs and CUVs. The F-Pace, along with the recently redesigned XE sports sedan have been pumping new life into the British marque, U.S. sales surging 44% for the first five months of this year – even as the overall American market has been sliding.

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Jaguar will roll the new E-Pace into U.S. showrooms early next year. It will be joined later in 2018 by the all-electric I-Pace. That model will use an entirely unique platform – with its batteries mounted in the skateboard-like platform – meant to deliver an extremely roomy interior despite a compact footprint.

Jaguar plans to reveal the new E-Pace on July 17 during a splashy London event. It will be carried live online that evening, which will work out to sometime early to mid-afternoon for those living in the U.S. Details of that webcast will be announced in the next few weeks.

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