JAGUAR E-PACE SUV
The new ‘compact’ E-Pace is Jaguar’s latest ‘sports SUV.’ Damien O’Carroll reports
Following on from the success of the F-Pace, it was inevitable that Jaguar would add more SUVs to its line- up, so to that end we have the “barely an SUV” I- Pace all- electric SUV due later this year, and the very car you see before you now, the smaller E-Pace. While it comes in both FWD and AWD forms internationally, the New Zealand range will be exclusively AWD, with a mix of diesel and petrol power. The diesel powered D150 S kicks off the range at $ 69,900, while i ts petrol equivalent – the P250 S – lands at $ 74,900. Two R-Dynamic S models come next, with a P250 and a more powerful diesel D180 both costing $ 79,900. The R- Dynamic SE tops the range, with the P250 landing at $ 84,900, while ether more powerful P300 costs $ 89,900.
The E-Pace comes standard with a, quite frankly, staggering array of features, with an even larger options list. The E-Pace is the first Jaguar to be powered exclusively by four- cylinder engines, with both diesel and petrol versions of JLR’s Ingenium 2.0litre turbo engine. Locally we get the diesel in t wo states of tune - the 110kW/ 380Nm D150 and the 132kW/ 430Nm D180, while the petrol variant also comes in t wo flavours – the 184kW/ 365Nm P250 and the 220kW/ 400Nm P300. We only got to drive the most powerful petrol engine at the launch, and it is a cracker. The P300 is smooth and powerful, with a nicely linear power response that makes it feel more like a smaller six than a turbo four, even managing a pleasingly gruff six- ish growl under heavy acceleration. The nine-speed auto is a slick, seamless operator, while it also boasts a nicely nimble chassis and surprisingly responsive with a pleasant feel.
The AWD system is extremely clever and very effective, utilising t wo independent electrically controlled wet- plate clutches on the rear axle, as opposed to a differential, and it endows the E-Pace with a remarkably RWD- like feel, particularly on the loosesurface demonstration where things got delightfully sideways. The interior is beautifully built and nicely laid out, with excellent quality materials on display and some brilliantly comfortable seats. Like the larger F-Pace, there was a noticeable brittleness to the firm ride, with a strong tendency to jostle its occupants on less than perfect surfaces. While it is impossible to tell for sure in another country, this could well be a weakness for the E-Pace on New Zealand’s aggressive chip sealed roads, much as it is for the F-Pace. In terms of looks, well, to our eyes it is less successful than its dynamic abilities. While it has some lovely design details, the overall picture is of a tall and extremely generic small SUV – from a distance it could easily be mistaken for a SsangYong Korando and that is something that nobody really wants from a Jaguar…
Beautifully built and unmistakably a Jaguar from behind the wheel, the E- Pace’s oddly bland styling and slightly brittle ride show that moving down a size in the SUV segment isn’t quite as easy as it might at first seem. That said, the good points are still very good indeed, with the excellent AWD system, beautiful interior and nimble chassis being particular highlights, while the only engine we drove was also very good indeed. While it remains to be seen how the rest of the engine range stacks up, and what the ride is like on local roads, the E-Pace comes off as a very good package wrapped up in bland styling.
E-Pace brings Jag status and style to Compact SUV sector.
Versatile E-Pace pitched at adventurous end of buyer spectrum.
NZ gets AWD-only models but mix of diesel and petrol engines.