Jaguar’s E-Pace intent on bucking SUV engine-trend
If there’s one theme emerging in the rush of premium-compact fashion-forward SUVs into New Zealand, it’s a preference for petrol power.
Audi’s Q2 and Q3 only come with turbo-petrol engines. Same for the BMW X2. And indeed the forthcoming Volvo XC40. Diesel options are available for all internationally, but the NZ distributors for these models seem to feel compression-ignition has had its day for small-medium SUVs.
Not Jaguar NZ. The new E-Pace has been launched here in six different models, powered by two turbo-petrol and two turbodiesel powerplants (both 2.0-litre units) from the brand’s new Ingenium engine family.
‘‘We see the [E-Pace] mix at about 60/40 petrol/diesel,’’ says Motorcorp Distributors general manager Steve Kenchington. ‘‘We actually see it as a competitive advantage, especially against our German friends who aren’t bringing diesel at all.
‘‘There’s definitely still a huge market for diesel in this country and we don’t see it ending any time soon. We’ve not seen any drop-off at all.’’
There’s another trend in this burgeoning premium-compact SUV segment and that’s frontwheel drive. All of the above include two-wheel drive models in their ranges. Well, all except Jaguar: all E-Pace models in NZ have all-wheel drive with torque vectoring.
That’s in line with the brand’s claim that E-Pace is the most driver-focused vehicle in the segment.
Jaguar is aiming to make a strong impression with the E-Pace. However, it’s making it via a typically confusing blend of powertrains and specifications. There are S and SE models, both selectively combined with the R-Dynamic styling package. The two petrol and two diesel engines are then mixed-and-matched among them.
The E-Pace lineup opens with the S D150 (D-for-diesel) at $69,900. It makes 110kW/380Nm, achieves 5.6 litres per 100km and does the benchmark 0-100kmh sprint in 10.5 seconds.
The S petrol option is the P250 (P for . . . never mind) at $74,900. It serves up 184kW/365Nm (7.7l, 7.0sec).
Then you move up to the R-Dynamic S, which comes as a D180 (132kW/430Nm, 5.6l/9.3sec) or P250 (as above). They’re the same $79,900, so you have a free choice between diesel and petrol.
The flagship specification is R-Dynamic SE, which comes in two petrol variants: the $84,900 P250 or $89,900 P300 (221kW/ 400Nm, 8.0l/6.4sec).
All models get LED lights, leather upholstery with front heating and power adjustment, Jaguar’s Pro navigation system with wi-fi hotspot capability, 360-degree parking cameras, rear traffic monitor and park assist.
The R-Dynamic S adds upsized 19-inch wheels (the S is on 18s) and contrast stitching on the upholstery, while the R-Dynamic SE has 20-inch wheels, automatic high-beam lights, power tailgate, keyless entry, more adjustment for the front seats, Meridian sound system and the Drive Pack that includes adaptive cruise control with ‘‘queue assist’’, highspeed autonomous braking and blind spot assist.
Both R-Dynamic models have satin exterior trim, unique grille and front bumper, twin tailpipes, grained sports seats, unique headlining in the cabin, metal treadplates and metal pedals. Got all that? Good. There’s also an E-Pace First Edition model that has everything from the R-Dynamic SE plus panoramic roof, exterior Black Pack, unique wheels, bespoke trim including Ebony Windsor leather seats with 18-way adjustment, suede headlining, configurable interior lighting, loadspace storage rails, additional power sockets, head-up display, Activity Key, ‘‘gesture’’ tailgate and Configurable Dynamics.
Buy the First Edition and you’ll still get change from $100,000. A hundred bucks change, but still.
Note that the First Edition is based not on the flagship P300, but the P250.
Can’t say we can give you a definitive verdict on E-Pace’s performance on Kiwi roads, after a brief preview drive that covered some really wet roads and a lot of road works and not a lot else that wasn’t either really slippery or coned off.
But Jag’s new baby does impress as a beautifully finished and smooth-driving machine. We had quick spins in the P250 and D180, enjoying the slick ninespeed automatic and accomplished all-wheel drive system. The D150/180 and P180 have torque vectoring by braking, which brakes one rear wheel to send more power to the other when required in corners.
The flagship P300 has true torque vectoring, which does not require braking and can send 100 per cent of the rear axle’s power to just one wheel almost instantly.
There’s serious hardware underneath the E-Pace, but the rules of the game in this burgeoning segment stipulate that new products must also be a bit tongue-in-cheek.
There are many design elements from the F-Type coupe (inside and out). Jaguar styling guru Ian Callum also likens the E-Pace to a cub: ‘‘One of the things about young-adult wild cats is they have big eyes and big paws. We adore them for that reason because they’re disproportionate.
‘‘We call this car the cub of the Jaguar family.’’
Jaguar NZ expects to sell 250 E-Pace models per year, making this baby the biggest seller in its range.
Despite the name, don’t confuse E-Pace with Jaguar’s much-talked-about electric SUV: that’s the i-Pace, due in NZ March-2019.
Jaguar reckons E-Pace’s big eyes (well, lights) and oversized paws (wheels) make it adorable, like a cub. Okay then.