Jaguar’s new com­pact wagon an en­tic­ing lit­tle cat

New com­pact util­ity ve­hi­cle hits the sweet spot on price, size and fea­tures

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By MALCOLM GUNN

Vir­tu­ally all au­tomak­ers have fig­ured out that their key to cur­rent and fu­ture suc­cess lies with build­ing util­ity wag­ons of vary­ing sizes and de­scrip­tions.

That les­son hasn’t been lost on Jaguar. Be­gin­ning in early 2018, it will in­tro­duce the com­pact E-Pace as a ju­nior part­ner to the mid-size F-Pace wagon that ar­rived for 2017.

The E-Pace name sounds like it might re­fer to an elec­tric ve­hi­cle, but it uses goodold-fash­ioned gaso­line propul­sion. Jaguar’s up­com­ing 2019 I-Pace tall wagon will ac­tu­ally be the brand’s first elec­tric.

What is unique about the E-Pace is that it rests on a front-wheel-drive plat­form de­rived from the Land Rover Evoque (Jaguar and Land Rover are owned by the same com­pany). Like the F-Pace, how­ever, the EPace has stan­dard all-wheel-drive.

The F-Pace and E-Pace are un­mis­tak­able as kin, right down to their sim­i­lar-look­ing front-end shapes that are clearly in­flu­enced by other Jaguar fleet mem­bers. The com­mon thread also ex­tends to the op­po­site end, where the fash­ion­ably slop­ing lift­gate looks at­trac­tive enough, but re­sults in re­duced cargo space when com­pared to other more squared-off de­signs.

The cabin ap­pears equally invit­ing, es­pe­cially the cock­pit-style driver’s pod that could have been lifted straight out of the FType sports car. The touch screen is nice and big and the large, round ven­ti­la­tion con­trols will no doubt as­sist the fum­ble-fin­gered.

The E-Pace is more than a 30 cen­time­tres shorter and about nine cen­time­tres nar­rower than the F-Pace, but the real head scratcher is that the E-pace ac­tu­ally out­weighs the big­ger Jag by 70 kilo­grams, which goes to show that com­pact­ness doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily re­sult in a cor­re­spond­ing re­duc­tion in heft.

For­tu­nately the E-Pace is up to the task of quickly and ef­fi­ciently haul­ing pas­sen­gers and cargo, us­ing a tur­bocharged 2.0-litre four-cylin­der engine that’s rated at a re­spectable 247 horse­power and 269 pound­feet of torque.

For sig­nif­i­cantly more oomph, the EPace’s R-Dy­namic pack­age comes with a turbo 2.0 that puts 296 horse­power and 295 pound-feet of torque.

With ei­ther engine, a nine-speed au­to­matic is the sole trans­mis­sion choice.

The all-wheel-drive hard­ware de­pends on the engine, start­ing with a per­ma­nently en­gaged setup for base mod­els. The RDy­namic’s “Ac­tive Driv­e­line” keeps only the front wheels turn­ing in nor­mal driv­ing con­di­tions.

When trac­tion loss is de­tected, the sys­tem can di­rect nearly all of the avail­able torque to the rear axle and to a spe­cific rear wheel, if nec­es­sary.

Ac­tive Driv­e­line’s stan­dard torque-vec­tor­ing sys­tem lightly ap­plies the brakes to the in­side wheel when cor­ner­ing, which re­duces the ve­hi­cle’s nat­u­rally ten­dency to travel in a straight line even when the wheel is turned (called un­der­steer).

Com­mon to all E-Pace mod­els is a lowspeed cruise-con­trol sys­tem that reg­u­lates the ve­hi­cle’s speed between two km/h and 30 km/h. In­ter­est­ingly, ac­tive-safety tech­nol­ogy such as blind-spot warn­ing and adap­tive cruise con­trol are not stan­dard, although lane-keep­ing as­sist is.

E-Pace pric­ing starts at $45,500, in­clud­ing de­liv­ery charges. For that pile of cash, you get a rea­son­able level of stan­dard con­tent, but to move closer to the lux­ury zone you’ll need to select the S or SE ver­sions to get leather seat cov­er­ings, a panoramic roof, nav­i­ga­tion, head-up info dis­play and 18- or 19-inch wheels (17-inch­ers are stan­dard).

Opt­ing for the per­for­mance-laden RDy­namic pack­age adds about $8,300 to the base price, but you also get larger brakes plus a bit more com­fort con­tent along with the up­graded driv­e­line.

Atop the field is the E-Pace First Edi­tion, avail­able for 2018 only, that bun­dles up most of the ex­tra-cost lux­ury op­tions into one very com­plete trim level, but you’ll be in low-$60,000 ter­ri­tory.

What­ever the choice, the E-pace wagon ap­pears to be an en­tic­ing lit­tle cat, with the looks, lux­ury and power that fits with the Jaguar name and rep­u­ta­tion.

Spe­cial to The Daily Courier

The base E-Pace comes with cloth seats, 246-horse­power 2.0-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der and a nine-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Lux­ury is as near as the S and SE trims.

Spe­cial to The Daily Courier

As a com­pact util­ity ve­hi­cle, the E-Pace is more than 30 cen­time­tres shorter and nine cen­time­tres nar­rower than the cur­rent FPace. Oddly, the larger F-Pace is a bit lighter, base model to base model.

AUDI Q3 QU­AT­TRO Base price: $39,500 Good-look­ing wagon is well priced. Qu­at­tro AWD is con­sid­ered a top sys­tem.

BMW X1 XDRIVE Base price: $43,150 Sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion model uses the Mini Coun­try­man plat­form.

Can get pricey.

LEXUS NX Base price: $45,000 Less than sub­tle styling breaks from the pack.

AWD Hy­brid ver­sion avail­able.

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