Jaguar E-pace P300 HSE R-dy­namic AWD

Jaguar’s small­est SUV has its claws fully ex­tended in search of a solid seg­ment foothold

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

AMID the urry of ex­cite­ment and, ahem, buzz sur­round­ing Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to in­tro­duce its rst-ever all-elec­tric ve­hi­cle to the South African mar­ket next year, the Jaguar brand es­pe­cially will be hop­ing the ar­rival of the I-pace will raise the pro le of an al­ready es­tab­lished fam­ily of leap­ing-fe­line-branded SUVS. The suc­cess of th­ese plans seems in­escapably hinged on the rand-pound ex­change rate. As im­pres­sive as the F-type Coupé and F-pace SUV are, for ex­am­ple, the pric­ing struc­tures as­so­ci­ated with th­ese ranges con­tinue to place them at the mercy of some se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion.

An­other ex­am­ple of this un­for­tu­nate scal trend is the E-pace mid­size range launched early this year. Boast­ing the kind of fresh, dis­tinct lines and clever pack­ag­ing de­manded in this fast-grow­ing, no­tably im­age-con­scious seg­ment, the sum­mary of our maiden E-pace road test (D240 HSE AWD; June 2018) con­cluded with a con-

cern about where the ask­ing price of that par­tic­u­lar model placed it rel­a­tive to its op­po­nents.

Of course, the cost of the D240 wasn’t the only some­what dis­ap­point­ing el­e­ment of the pack­age, and it af­flicts this P300 test ve­hi­cle, too. The CAR team was once again aghast when con­fronted with the dig­i­tal read­out on our scales show­ing a fig­ure edg­ing to­wards two tonnes. Loaded with both an R-dy­namic kit and full-house HSE spec­i­fi­ca­tion, the ele­phant in the Jaguar play­room re­mains the fact its “baby” SUV is built on the brand’s dated, steel­based – and there­fore heavy – D8 plat­form (un­like the F-pace, which sits on lighter, newer alu­minium un­der­pin­nings). D8 harks back to the days of the Free­lander 2 and is shared with the Range Rover Evoque and Dis­cov­ery Sport.

From a com­fort­able, raised driv­ing po­si­tion, en­sconced be­hind a thick-rimmed steer­ing wheel in our test unit’s dark­coloured in­te­rior, it’s im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore just how lead-footed the E-pace feels on the road. While some buy­ers may ap­pre­ci­ate the cor­re­spond­ing sense of stur­di­ness – fur­thered by the com­par­a­tively heavy steer­ing – a short drive in any one of the Jaguar’s di­rect ri­vals, in­clud­ing the svelte Volvo XC40 and racy BMW X2, shows the Brit to be pon­der­ous by com­par­i­son, es­pe­cially in the con­fines of an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment.

It’s not all bad news, how­ever, as both E-pace mod­els we’ve tested of­fer near class-lead­ing lev­els of ride fi­nesse (iron­i­cally, likely

aided by the weight rest­ing on each damper), as well as a re ned abil­ity to soak up open-road kilo­me­tres. Cou­pled with suf cient lug­gage space, com­mend­able rear-pas­sen­ger com­fort and an in­te­rior that’s well equipped in HSE spec and nicely nished, too, the E-pace makes a great tourer.

Boast­ing 221 kw and 400 N.m of torque, the trans­versely mounted 2,0-litre In­ge­nium en­gine tted to the P300 model may not be par­tic­u­larly char­ac­ter­ful in its work­ings (in­clud­ing the ex­haust note). How­ever, it of­fers ad­mirable per­for­mance de­spite the 1 924 kg mass and the rel­a­tively slow re­ac­tions of a stan­dard Zf-sourced nine­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. The down­side to rel­a­tively brisk over­tak­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion times – and, again, af­fected by the weight – is a cor­re­spond­ing fuel con­sump­tion penalty; on our av­er­age-speed fuel route, the P300 re­turned a de­cid­edly av­er­age 9,6 L/100 km.

As with all E-pace de­riv­a­tives sold lo­cally, there’s a wel­come level of sure­foot­ed­ness af­forded by a Haldex-sourced all-wheeldrive sys­tem. On per­for­mance- ori­ented mod­els such as the P300 (and D240), an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled Ac­tive Driv­e­line setup can send 100% of avail­able torque to the rear wheels for both im­proved lev­els of grip in all con­di­tions, as well as – Jaguar claims – a hint of rear-wheeldrive pre­ci­sion

TEST SUM­MARY

Set­ting aside the nearly R115 000 worth of op­tions tted to our test unit – ig­nor­ing for a mo­ment its rel­a­tively spritely straight-line per­for­mance – a base price of R909 317 po­si­tions the E-pace P300 HSE R-dy­namic un­com­fort­ably close to es­tab­lished Ger­man ri­vals in seg­ments some way be­yond the av­er­age mid­size-suv man­date (i.e. Q5, X3/X4 and GLC). Were it priced lower, how­ever, it would still be vul­ner­a­ble to the Q3, X2 and XC40, all ve­hi­cles mak­ing more of their pow­er­trains and newer un­der­pin­nings.

Lovely to look at and suit­ably cov­etable the E-pace P300 may be but, as be­fore, our ad­vice is to ei­ther seek a lower-priced de­riv­a­tive – in this case, the P250 S – or to stop at a Volvo deal­er­ship to sam­ple an XC40.

The Volvo XC40 T5 looks like the bar­gain of the cen­tury by com­par­i­son Ian Mclaren

Looks great and drives well de­spite the per­va­sive bloat Ter­ence Steenkamp

Classy ride qual­ity but pow­er­ful en­gine lacks char­ac­ter Peter Palm

Clock­wise from be­low Ma­trix LED head­lamps are a R22 600 op­tion; R-dy­namic adds unique grille; E-pace of­fers lots of kerb ap­peal.

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