FEW people would aspire to own an Epica. It’s not fun to drive like a sporty Commodore and the new model, even with the updates, looks plain from the outside and a little dated inside.
That said, you do get a lot of car and a lot of features for your money.
The arrival of the diesel is a big plus for the Epica.
Though the petrol six is smooth, it is sluggish. The new diesel is so strong that driving the Epica is almost effortless. It pulls hard from about 1800 to 2800 revs. The new automatic complements it and you hardly notice it changing. And the diesel is noisy, but it is not the loudest that has been tested.
In terms of fuel consumption, the claimed 7.6 litres/100km couldn’t be matched. It achieved 8.6 litres/100km.
But this diesel is not really about saving money, more about better performance.
Unfortunately, the Epica’s steering is a disappointment, the problem to do with the uneven power-steering assistance.
You are never sure how much assistance you will get when you turn into a corner and it also varies in the corner, like driving with a PlayStation steering-wheel controller.
This steering deficiency is especially evident at low speeds when parking.
The hydraulic assistance makes the engine revs rise and makes a deep groaning noise.
You also have to turn the wheel a lot of times to change direction when parking, which doesn’t help.
The Epica holds the road well, but a firm front end means it turns in reluctantly at lower speeds. It is comfortable on the open road and the dampers produce a fairly compliant ride in most conditions.
Practicality is a strong point of the Epica and it has a lot of space inside.
The diesel is good value and the best Epica yet, but it falls well short of the Ford Mondeo and Mazda6 when it comes to dynamics. Given these cars are currently being discounted, it would be wise to test them and the Honda Accord before settling on the Epica.
THE BOTTOM LINE
STRONG diesel and nice transmission make Epica better, but steering spoils the drive.