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