Its new E-Pace

Pre­mium cross­over set to take on Q3 and X1

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORING - MO­TOR­ING STAFF

JAGUAR is putting it­self on the fast track to mass ap­peal with its E-Pace, which is a com­pact SUV that will take on pop­u­lar pre­mium com­pacts like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 when it lands on South African shores in early 2018.

It also hap­pens to be the first Jaguar since the ill-fated X-Type to of­fer front-wheel drive, al­though most mod­els will sport an all-wheel drive sys­tem.

You see, un­like the F-Pace, which is built around Jaguar’s ad­vanced alu­minium ar­chi­tec­ture, and which caters for rear-wheel drive lay­outs with its lon­gi­tu­di­nal en­gine po­si­tion­ing, the E-Pace in­stead shares its steel-bod­ied ar­chi­tec­ture with the Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Sport and Range Rover Evoque, and thus sports trans­versely mounted engines.

In a nut­shell this lay­out means a less sporty driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but does lend it­self to bet­ter in­te­rior pack­ag­ing and thus more space for oc­cu­pants and lug­gage - some­thing that buy­ers in this seg­ment are no doubt go­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate more than moun­tain pass-gob­bling agility in any case.

On that note, Jaguar claims its new ‘baby’ of­fers gen­er­ous legroom and a size­able (577-litre) boot.

How­ever, Jaguar still refers to the E-Pace as the hot hatch of its seg­ment, and there is a rel­a­tively pow­er­ful flag­ship en­gine in the form of JLR’s most po­tent 2-litre, four-cylin­der ‘In­ge­nium’ tur­bopetrol, rated at 221kW and 400Nm, and re­put­edly ca­pa­ble of get­ting the lit­tle cat from zero to 100km/h in just 6.4 sec­onds. Jaguar will also of­fer a 183kW/365Nm ver­sion of this en­gine, along with a trio of 2-litre In­ge­nium tur­bod­iesels in 110kW/380Nm, 132kW/430Nm and 177kW/500Nm guises.

All but the base diesel are fit­ted with an Ac­tive Driv­e­line all­wheel drive sys­tem that Jaguar has adapted to of­fer a rear-wheel bias and the abil­ity to al­low “con­trolled drift­ing” on low-fric­tion sur­faces. Fur­ther­more, the Adap­tive Dy­nam­ics sus­pen­sion sys­tem of­fers ad­justable damp­ing and drivers can also per­son­alise the ve­hi­cle’s throt­tle, steer­ing and gear­box set­tings.

Jaguar claims that the E-Pace is one of the most “con­nected and in­tel­li­gent” ve­hi­cles in its class. The SUV boasts up to four 12-volt charg­ing points and five USB con­nec­tions, and as many as eight de­vices can stream con­tent from its 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. The car comes with a 25cm cus­tomis­able touch-screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem as stan­dard and there are plenty of en­tic­ing op­tions avail­able for those want­ing to give their E-Pace an elec­tronic pimp­ing.

For starters, there are two high­end Merid­ian au­dio op­tions on of­fer, in­clud­ing an 825W, 15-speaker sur­round sound sys­tem. Buy­ers can also opt for a 31.2cm dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter, as well as JLR’s new-gen­er­a­tion Head-Up dis­play sys­tem with full-colour graph­ics for speed, sat­nav di­rec­tions and var­i­ous alerts and up­dates.

Let’s not for­get the wear­able and wa­ter­proof Ac­tiv­ity Key which al­lows you to lock the ve­hi­cle and then go for a swim with­out wor­ry­ing about get­ting your key wet. Dur­ing drier, ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties, you can also keep tabs on your E-Pace through your smart­phone or smart­watch, with the InCon­trol app al­low­ing you to check fuel lev­els, turn on the heater or even start the ve­hi­cle.

The new SUV is big on safety too, with a suite of driver as­sist gad­gets that in­cludes For­ward Traf­fic De­tec­tion, in ad­di­tion to all the usual lane as­sis­tants, auto brak­ing with pedes­trian de­tec­tion and so on.

Oh, and as if peo­ple would not be in­ter­ested enough in the car alone, Jaguar de­cided to set yet an­other Guin­ness World Record dur­ing the un­veil­ing of the E-Pace, this time com­plet­ing a 15.3 me­tre­long jump that in­cluded a corkscrew-like ‘bar­rel roll’.

Jaguar claims that the E-Pace is one of the most ‘con­nected and in­tel­li­gent’ ve­hi­cles in its class.

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