JAGUAR E-PACE P300
JAGUAR E-PACE P300 AWD R-DYNAMIC HSE
Compact giant beater
EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK THERE’S ANOTHER LUXURY CAR COMPANY LAUNCHING AN SUV, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WE TELL THEM WE WANT TO BUY THESE DAYS. IT’S HARD TO GO WRONG WITH AN SUV, AND WHEN IT’S A JAGUAR TO BOOT, WE TEND TO GO A LITTLE GOOGLY EYED, BERNIE HELLBERG RECENTLY TESTED ONE SUCH EXCITING NEW JAG THAT’S SETTING THE PACE IN ITS SEGMENT.
After spending a week with the near range-topping Jaguar E-Pace HSE P300 R Dynamic, which is the top of the range petrol version, the verdict is in, that Jaguar has achieved with the E-Pace what they did not quite get right with their first SUV attempt, the somewhat larger F-Pace.
WHAT IS IT?
The E-Pace compact SUV competes in the market with the likes of the Audi Q3 and Volvo XC60, along with its cousin, the Range Rover Evoque with which it shares a platform, engines, and drivetrains.
The competitor line-up, one has to admit, offers really stiff competition, especially so from its German, and Swedish rivals.
The E-Pace has much going for it in the way of its looks, which are positively mouthwatering. Sitting taller than some of its rivals,
it gives you that height perspective we all crave in our cars right now.
It is also surprisingly quick, its four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged engine generating 221 kW and 400 Nm of torque across a wide revolution range. In normal driving conditions, this E-Pace will not leave you wanting for a quick get-away.
Being the vehicle du jour for most families nowadays, there are a couple of important practical boxes that every contemporary SUV/ crossover needs to tick, mostly in and around the cities where they congregate.
For singles, couples, or small families, the E-Pace works. During our time with the car, we managed to comfortably sit up to four adults with a fair amount of everyday oddments coming along for the ride. I’ve driven many new crossovers this year, and while they all seem to have similar dimensions, the E-Pace seemed more spacious (or is it less cramped) than most of its rivals.
The boot has a decent amount of room too. It delivers 484 litres of space with the rear seats up, which is sufficient for a full load of groceries, if not for a full-blown camping weekend for four.
What is larger than average is the car’s turning circle of 11.4 m in diameter, which is more akin to a mid-size SUV and tends to make U-turns a bit trickier. Ease of parking is paramount in a car like this, though, and its compact dimensions make parking relatively easy compared to a larger SUV. Our tester was fitted with an optional 360-degree camera, although the standard reverse camera should do just fine for most drivers in most conditions. Rather spend the extra dough on more important features such as matrix LED headlights as the car comes standard with regular LEDs.
A THING OF BEAUTY
The E-Pace looks every bit as dynamic as a Jaguar should; its compact exterior is shrunken just enough from the hulkier F-Pace to be graceful, while remaining as purposeful and aggressive as a Jaguar should be.
Inside the cabin, tangible luxury sets the E-Pace apart from the crowd. Everything feels stable and composed, and materials used are sumptuous to the touch. An abundance of leather on the seats and the steering wheel, rounds off the opulent feel. Matt-black accents strike the perfect balance with aluminium strips surrounding the air vents and gear lever housing, as contrast stitching set our test unit apart from its lesser siblings.
Heated seats are an option at both the front and the rear, although climate control and satnav are standard.
The E-Pace generally has a decent amount of oddment storage spaces, with two cup holders in the centre console (one large, one small) and they are removable if you don’t need them and instead want to make the already decent-sized centre storage bin even larger.
Rear passengers weren’t left out when storage space was being added to the cabin, and get two cup holders in the centre armrest, as well as separate air vents.
The boot can be opened with a swing of your foot under the back of the car, as part of the keyless entry system. For traditionalists (like me) a button on the remote key fob will both open and shut the hatch.
On the tech front, Jaguar has opted for its own in-house infotainment management system over Apple CarPlay, which is managed via a large 10.0” touchscreen display with Bluetooth connectivity.
The Jaguar E-Pace surprised, and delighted, from the moment it pounced on us. Besides being distinctively subtle in its styling, it is quite obviously still a Jag, albeit with familial tendencies. Boasting more interior space than expected, and ample support- and safety technology on-board, the E-Pace is one of the most stylish contenders in the compact SUV/crossover segment of the market. Although pricey (along with its competitors), it offers bang for your buck that’s hard to beat.