E-Pace adds to family fun
Jaguar rightly won acclaim when it unleashed its first ever SUV on to the world a few years back.
The F-Pace is a good-looking high rider which quite successfully blends sports car dynamics with everyday convenience and modern tastes.
It was inevitable Jag would soon have another SUV and it would be marked against the F-Pace.
As the name suggests, the E-Pace is smaller than the F-Pace, sitting in the compact SUV segment.
Looks are subjective, but at first glance it’s not as attractive as its bigger sibling, with the wider, more “open” headlights making it seem more dated.
It’s still seriously desirable, though, so maybe we’re being unfair.
And it soon proves to be a more than worthy follow-up in just about every other area.
Jaguar Land Rover has an unfortunate tendency to be stingy with gear, often demanding extra outlay for perks which should really be included in the high purchase price. But our test car was surprisingly bereft of options — only a fixed panoramic roof (a hefty $2160), metallic paint ($1370, also high) and additional power sockets ($260, probably worth it) were fitted. Even more surprisingly, there were no glaring omissions, save for heated seats.
Of course, $67,990 is about as pricey as small SUVs get without getting into high-performance Audi RS or Mercedes-AMG territory — and the HSE D180 is only a midspec E-Type variant.
Still, you get a lot for your money: 20-inch five-spoke alloys, rear fog lights, LED headlights with daytime running lights, twin tailpipes and more on the outside, while other features include 18way electric memory front seats, black leather seats and steering wheel, hands-free tailgate, keyless entry and start, Meridian sound system, wi-fi hotspot and a 10-inch infotainment screen.
Safety gear is comprehensive also, with auto high-beam assist, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot assist, driver condition monitor, lane keep assist, park assist, rear cross traffic alert and more on board.
It’s all easy to use and, with the exception of the lane keep assist, not too intrusive. Even the adaptive cruise control can be changed to work like a traditional, nonadaptive system — a choice more companies should give drivers.
The D180 is the middle-spec of the three diesel engines available. There are also two petrol engines offered; in fact, the myriad engine and specification combinations mean E-Pace can be had in a staggering 38 different variants.
On the road, the D180 is a quality unit — so good in fact I couldn’t believe its claimed figures. It felt sprightly off the mark with minimal lag and never felt sluggish, even without selecting Dynamic mode — yet it has a dawdling 9.3second 0-100km/h time.
It’s also a frugal engine, with a week of mainly urban driving delivering about 7.0L/100km.
On the move it’s comfortable and quiet, but still fun to punt into corners thanks to being well balanced and having all-wheel-drive.
That said, the nine-speed auto transmission wasn’t perfect, often seeming to get stuck at high revs and unsure of which gear to select.
There’s plenty of easily accessible storage up front while a 484litre cargo space is bigger than many bigger, medium-sized SUVs.
Unfortunately, rear leg room isn’t great — at 185cm, I had to move my own driving position forward to fit comfortably and what’s left of my hair was brushing the roof thanks to the sunroof.
The Jaguar E-Pace is comfortable, quiet and frugal.