E-Pace adds to fam­ily fun

Albany Extra - - Motoring - Sam Jeremic

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.

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