Pick up the pace

The Bri­tish mar­que jumps on the baby cross­over band­wagon

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents - WORDS BY FERMAN LAO

First, the F-Pace. Then the EPace. Jag ain’t wast­ing time.

If there’s one thing car­mak­ers love do­ing, it’s en­sur­ing that with ev­ery model in­tro­duc­tion, the bar is raised and the new of­fer­ing is as mem­o­rable as can be. Al­most ev­ery mar­que suc­ceeds at the former. The lat­ter is a lit­tle bit more chal­leng­ing; mem­o­ries can be fleet­ing, after all. But not so with the Jaguar E-Pace.

Jaguar has done well and el­e­vated the bar much, much higher with this model. It’s a throw­ing down of the prover­bial gaunt­let to its com­peti­tors, a “bring your best and then some” ex­cla­ma­tion of pur­pose. After all, how can any­one top the world pre­miere of a new Bri­tish lux­ury com­pact SUV when it in­volves get­ting the car air­borne across a span of 15.3m as it com­pletes a 270- de­gree barrel roll? That stunt is now of­fi­cially on the Guin­ness World Records. How to beat that—maybe with a 360- de­gree loop? Too late, the F-Pace al­ready did that in 2015.

What does it take to make a world-record- set­ting car? For starters, the E-Pace has an R-Dy­namic vari­ant with a trans­versely mounted 2.0- liter turbo-four pow­er­plant, from Jaguar’s all-alu­minum In­ge­nium fam­ily of en­gines. Trans­verse mount­ing makes the overall ve­hi­cle length shorter with­out sac­ri­fic­ing in­te­rior space—a must for any con­tender in the fiercely com­pet­i­tive lux­ury com­pact-SUV arena. Thanks to 296 horses, 0-100kph is achieved in 6.4sec. Those who are con­tent with saner speeds can choose the ‘reg­u­lar’ 246hp petrol mill, or one of three In­ge­nium diesel mo­tors.

These diesels can hold their own, with the au­to­matic all-wheel- drive vari­ant hav­ing 178hp and 430Nm on tap. The ‘en­try-level’ ver­sion, with a man­ual trans­mis­sion and front-wheel drive, has 148hp and 380Nm. It’s cer­tain to be the fru­gal crowd’s fa­vorite, be­ing ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing over 21km/ L.

To keep all four wheels planted, the E-Pace is avail­able with an Adap­tive Dy­nam­ics pack­age. It in­cludes a vari­able damper sys­tem that ad­justs the damper to sur­face con­di­tions 100 times ev­ery sec­ond. To do that, the sys­tem has to mon­i­tor sus­pen­sion move­ment 500 times a sec­ond. It’s not all just elec­tronic wiz­ardry, though—the in­te­gral-link rear sus­pen­sion is equally re­spon­si­ble for the cross­over’s sure-foot­ed­ness. Brake-based torque vec­tor­ing is also

‘The E-Pace is still very much a tar­ma­c­fo­cused street fighter’

em­ployed when the road becomes wind­ing and wor­ri­some.

Those who are wont to ven­ture off the beaten con­crete path need not be con­cerned, ei­ther. The E-Pace does come with a very ca­pa­ble all-wheel-drive sys­tem; just don’t mis­take it for a go-any­where rock crawler. This is still very much a tar­mac-fo­cused street fighter.

Aid­ing the de­fen­sive driver are fea­tures like high-speed emer­gency brak­ing, lane­keep as­sist, driver con­di­tion mon­i­tor­ing, and adap­tive cruise con­trol with queue as­sist and speed lim­iter—all ex­pected of ve­hi­cles in this price range. For park­ing-lot ma­neu­vers, there are front and rear sen­sors as well as a rear-view cam­era. A 360- de­gree sur­round-view cam­era is like­wise avail­able for those who of­ten find them­selves hav­ing to pre­ci­sion-park in tight quar­ters.

Noc­tur­nally ac­tive driv­ers will want to tick the box for ma­trix LED head­lamps with in­tel­li­gent high beam as­sist and adap­tive front light­ing. The main light-pro­jec­tor ar­ray is com­posed of a mul­ti­tude of ver­ti­cal sec­tions that can be ac­ti­vated or de­ac­ti­vated to op­ti­mize for­ward il­lu­mi­na­tion. This al­lows for max­i­mum vis­i­bil­ity with­out blind­ing the on­com­ing traf­fic.

In­side, the E-Pace also shines with a driver­centric cock­pit, ac­cen­tu­ated by the clev­erly styled J-shaped pas­sen­ger grab han­dle on the cen­ter con­sole. The cen­tral high-def­i­ni­tion 10in touch­screen acts as the pri­mary in­ter­face for the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. Mean­while, the leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel high­lights the dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play ahead of it, and is com­ple­mented by the sporty se­quen­tial-shift lever along with the pre­mium leather sports seats.

Cabin space is gen­er­ous by class stan­dards, and is made to feel even more spa­cious by the fixed panoramic tinted glass roof. There’s 577 liters of stor­age space with the rear seats up; put the seats down and cargo ca­pac­ity is more than dou­bled, at 1,234 liters. It’s a wel­come con­ve­nience for peo­ple who live an ac­tive life­style and de­mand a ve­hi­cle as ca­pa­ble as they are. An­other fea­ture that should be stan­dard on all ac­tive-life­style ve­hi­cles is the Ac­tiv­ity Key. Also found on the F-Pace, it’s a wrist­band that al­lows the ve­hi­cle to be locked and un­locked with­out hav­ing to take the main key along. It’s also waterproof to 20 me­ters.

Looks like the ball is now in the com­peti­tors’ court.

Strad­dling be­tween classic and mod­ern

Honey, Jag shrunk the F-Pace!

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