The auto industry may soon be usurped by an anodyne fleet of robo-taxis, but the final days are turning into a bit of a party for petrolheads.
In London late Thursday, Jaguar launched its new, junior-varsity SUV. Literally. They had a guy drive it off a twisting ramp, corkscrew in the air and land on another meticulously designed ramp in a stunt straight out of a James Bond film.
“If it was an easy stunt, many other people before me would have done it,” the driver helpfully explained in the promo footage.
The new Jag looks pretty sharp – a cub of a vehicle smartly placed between the brand’s hulking F-Pace SUV and its sinuous F-Type sports car.
It will make between 246 and 296 horsepower, depending on engine choice, and start at US$38,600 when it hits dealers next year.
The E-Pace is a vehicle that makes abundant sense, which is why it’s the most contested slice of the auto industry at the moment.
Not only are sales for small crossovers surging, but the brand that manages to sell a 20-something couple a so-called 'cute-ute', will be much more likely to trade them up into the larger, more profitable version once kids and/or kayaks come along.
The E-Pace joins a crowded field, including the Audi Q3, the BMW X1, the Mercedes GLA, the Porsche Macan, and Volvo’s XC60, to name a few. In the U.S., these little whips – grouped in the “entry luxury SUV” segment – posted a 17 percent increase in sales last year.
But let’s be frank. These things aren’t sexy. Austin Powers and Steve McQueen would have scoffed at the turtle-shaped pod Jaguar made such a fuss about Thursday. That doesn’t really matter to most consumers these days, since they’ll buy small SUVs anyway.
But they may feel a little less hollow about buying the one that can do a barrel-roll. Imagine the driver, upside-down, yelling at the top of his lungs: "Shaguar baby. Yeah!"