E-Pace of­fers per­for­mance, pres­tige

Albany Extra - - Motoring - Derek Og­den

Jaguar con­tin­ues apace (pun in­tended) to cover all au­to­mo­tive bases with the re­cent ad­di­tion of the E-Pace com­pact SUV to its ve­hi­cle ros­ter.

It seems the move down­scale has paid off for, by all ac­counts, they are sell­ing their socks off.

In fact, the E-Pace is well on its way to be­com­ing the com­pany’s best seller Down Un­der. It comes in 38 vari­ants thanks to what Jaguar calls its Ul­ti­mate Cus­tomer Choice, which al­lows you to build any kind of E-Pace you fancy.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tion runs through four lev­els — S, SE, HSE and R-Dy­namic — with a choice of five dif­fer­ent en­gines, three diesels and two petrol — D150, D180, D240, P250 and P300. All are all-wheel-drive.

Prices start at $47,750, plus on­road costs, and top out at $84,370.

On test was an E-Pace D240 SE, which comes to mar­ket at a man­u­fac­turer’s price of $68,850.

The E-Pace is un­mis­tak­ably a Jaguar, with cues taken from big brother the F-Pace. For ex­am­ple, the bold up­right grille sets the scene for mesh fea­tur­ing 3-D cham­fer­ing on its wide, flat hexagons catch­ing the light, with Jaguar’s big­gest ever Growler badge in the cen­tre, in­cor­po­rat­ing the adap­tive cruise con­trol sen­sors.

The Jaguar sig­na­ture ex­tends to side fender vents in pol­ished chrome, while at the rear round tailpipe tips are in­te­grated into the valance, a nod to jet en­gines, and a three-piece up­per tail­gate spoiler is shaped for op­ti­mum air­flow.

The E-Pace chas­sis has max­imised pas­sen­ger space, good rearseat legroom and, thanks to un­der­floor tem­po­rary spare-wheel stor­age, room for 484 litres of lug­gage.

Stor­age around the cabin in­cludes a cen­tre con­sole com­part­ment that can take four large wa­ter bot­tles, while a se­cure glove box is lock­able.

Front and rear door bins are some of the big­gest in class.

The sports car-style in­te­rior plugs the driver into a sporty driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence — premium leather on key touch-points such as the steer­ing wheel, cen­tre con­sole grab han­dle and gear shifter, while sec­ondary con­trols have been made sim­pler to op­er­ate.

This is a mixed bag, with the E-Pace, ac­cord­ing to Jaguar, be­ing one of the most con­nected in class, the next-gen­er­a­tion touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem link­ing oc­cu­pants to apps such as Spo­tify through the com­pany’s InCon­trol se­lec­tion.

How­ever, for a com­pany that claims lead­ing-edge con­nec­tiv­ity, Ap­ple CarPlay is con­spic­u­ous by its ab­sence.

The 10-inch cen­tral dash­board touch­screen re­duces the num­ber of switches and ro­tary di­als to make the cli­mate con­trol func­tions ac­ces­si­ble. A thin film tran­sis­tor full-colour head-up dis­play en­ables the driver to read info with­out tak­ing their eyes off the road.

A high-per­for­mance diesel en­gine, with se­quen­tial tur­bocharg­ers, pumps out 177kW of power at 4000rpm and 500Nm of

torque at a low 1500rpm, com­bin­ing low-speed re­sponse and high­speed out­put.

Mated with a slick nine-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and sta­teof-the-art AWD, ac­cord­ing to the maker, the E-Pace goes from zero to 100km/h in 7.4sec. Car­bon diox­ide emis­sions are 162g/km.

There’s a stack of driver as­sis­tance and safety fea­tures. For ex­am­ple, blind-spot as­sist is a com­bi­na­tion of blind-spot mon­i­tor and lane-keep­ing as­sist, keep­ing the the E-Pace out of the path of sur­round­ing ve­hi­cles when the driver isn’t pay­ing at­ten­tion.

For­ward traf­fic mon­i­tor, in­cor­po­rated in the 360-de­gree sur­round cam­era, keeps an eye on traf­fic ap­proach­ing from ei­ther side at a junc­tion, warn­ing of po­ten­tial dan­ger, while park as­sist au­to­mat­i­cally po­si­tions the E-Pace in par­al­lel or bay park­ing places.

Un­der urg­ing, the en­gine has a harsh note, which for­tu­nately is mostly kept out of the well-in­su­lated cabin. Seat­ing for five is ad­e­quate and com­fort­able, but not for too long a trip.

A power tail­gate of­fers the ad­van­tage of easy ac­cess to 484 litres of cargo space and then there’s Jag’s “magic wand”, the Ac­tiv­ity Key, which means if you go swim­ming at the beach, the big­gest thing to worry about is be­ing eaten by a shark and not your E-Pace keys be­ing stolen from your towel.

The Ac­tiv­ity Key com­prises a transpon­der em­bed­ded in a rub­ber wrist strap (no mov­ing parts, no bat­ter­ies). To lock or un­lock the E-Pace, you hold the band up to the up­per lip of the rear num­ber plate.

When the Ac­tiv­ity Key is in use, the main ve­hi­cle key fobs are dis­abled, ren­der­ing them use­less and the ve­hi­cle im­mo­bile in the event of a break-in.

The en­gine stop/start sys­tem left a lot to be de­sired: at rest with the power pedal pushed hard, the en­gine stut­tered to start and lagged in leap­ing into ac­tion. Not what you’d ex­pect from a ve­hi­cle of Jag’s pedi­gree.

The nine-speed auto trans­mis­sion is nicely matched to ve­hi­cle op­er­at­ing speeds and loads. Con­trols are mi­nus steer­ing wheel­mounted shift pad­dles, so man­ual mode was not as ac­ces­si­ble as if there were.

The cen­tre con­sole-only gearshift was a poor sub­sti­tute.

The Ac­tive Driv­e­line AWD sys­tem, un­like on many ri­vals, is not brak­ing-based but in ex­treme sit­u­a­tions can trans­fer al­most all the en­gine torque to the rear axle.

Un­der stan­dard con­di­tions, the nom­i­nal torque split de­liv­ers rear wheel-drive char­ac­ter.

At the rear axle, two in­de­pen­dent elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled wet­plate clutches dis­trib­ute torque be­tween the rear wheels, with the ca­pa­bil­ity to di­rect 100 per cent of that torque to ei­ther rear wheel.

Per­for­mance can be moulded to the driver’s de­sires via JaguarDrive Con­trol giv­ing a choice of four driv­ing modes, se­lected us­ing but­tons on the cen­tre con­sole: nor­mal of­fers per­for­mance, con­trol and com­fort; dy­namic with set­tings for a range of ve­hi­cle sys­tems; eco for fuel econ­omy; and rain, ice and snow en­hanc­ing sta­bil­ity in low grip con­di­tions.

Com­bined ur­ban/high­way fuel con­sump­tion claimed by the maker is 6.2 litres per 100 km. Shuf­fling around town, our test ve­hi­cle sat astride 10 litres per 100km. On the open road it was down to half that.

Jaguar says the shadow of a cub prowl­ing in the front door pud­dle lights is an at­tempt to make any­one ap­proach­ing smile.

The per­for­mance, kit and pres­tige of­fered for the price of an E-Pace is enough to pro­long the plea­sure.

In­di­vid­u­al­ism, through a raft of op­tions, comes at a cost.

The nine-speed auto trans­mis­sion is nicely matched to ve­hi­cle op­er­at­ing speeds and loads.

The E-Pace fea­tures a 10-inch cen­tral dash­board touch­screen.

Pic­tures: Mitchell Oke

The E-Pace is un­mis­tak­ably a Jaguar, with a bold, up­right grille.

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