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Jaguar E-Pace

Think Jaguar cars, and one immediately thinks low slung and sleek lines – often with only two seats and a proud racing pedigree which includes no less than five Le Mans titles. However, buyers tend to be indecisive and a noticeable swing towards brawny SUVs seems to be the latest irresistible trend, even for Jaguar with the launch of its new E-Pace.

It is inevitable that a significant shift in consumer focus would also encourage all manufacturers to go with the flow and focus their resources on vehicles that, while remaining true to design philosophies, also reap the benefits of added ground clearance.

Enter the E-Pace, a scaled-down version of the increasingly popular F-Pace, and an SUV with a sports car-inspired design that has managed to remain true to traditional Jaguar values.

THE DESIGN
The overhangs are short and the headlights swoop back into the bonnet, providing a dramatic vertical emphasis that is arguably good enough to get buyers reaching for their wallets. The rear end, in our view, is somewhat bland and inoffensive, effectively resembling many other compact SUVs.

DRIVING THE E-PACE
The seating position is rather high and quickly reminds you that you’re not sitting behind the wheel of an F-Type. A set of attractive 20” alloy wheels, wrapped in Pirelli rubber, provided good grip, but the E-Pace is noticeably less nimble than its nearest rivals. This may be blamed on the fact that it is some 85 kilograms heavier than its bigger F-Type sibling, even though its tailgate, bonnet, roof and front wings are made from aluminium.

Gearbox-wise, the nine-speed ZF-automatic felt somewhat sluggish, but once the gearbox selected the optimum ratio, acceleration picked up nicely without being too dramatic. This was especially noticeable in the diesel version, but
matters were put right by the flagship 221 kW turbo-petrol P380 model, which turned out to be a rip-roaring beast in true Jaguar tradition.

It took off like a rocket and effortlessly covered the 0-100 km/h sprint in its manufacturer claimed 6.4 seconds, only running out of steam at the electronically limited top speed of 243 km/h. Unique to Jaguar is a front-wheel
drive bias with all-wheel drive kicking in when required.

WHAT’S INSIDE?
The interior was clearly inspired by lessons learnt from the F-Type where the rotary selector has given way to a more conventional selector lever. Both front seats are fully electrically adjustable, providing a good view of the road ahead, despite those intrusively raked windscreen pillars. The rear visibility does not score full marks, but the addition of a reversing camera on all models, as well as front and rear parking sensors, rectified this issue to an extent. Aside from the entry-level models, the remaining S, SE and HSE variants are equipped with a 360-degree camera system to make parking even easier.

Interior trim is luxurious with bespoke stitching on the seats and dashboard, making it a great improvement over that of the F-Pace. Buyers will also appreciate the 10” touchscreen infotainment system, dubbed “Touch Pro”, which responds rapidly to inputs. However, some of the icons on the touchscreen are rather small and quite tricky to interact with once on the move.

The quality of the sound system across the E-Pace range is outstanding, while Bluetooth and USB sockets have been strategically placed for charging and connectivity purposes. If your pocket is deep enough, go for the 380-watt Meridian sound system, which comes standard on SE models, it will come as a shock to learn that you cannot add Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to the aforementioned infotainment system.

Combined with the satisfactory levels of visibility, all-wheel disc brakes and brilliant LED headlights, the overall build integrity has allowed the E-Pace to be given a full five-star EuroNCAP safety rating.

LAST WORD
The Jaguar E-Pace will find itself in a hotly contested market segment where other prominent models are achieving
good results. The recently launched BMW X2, Volvo’s superb XC40 and the well-established Volkswagen Tiguan will
certainly garner their share of the market. For the E- Pace, some slimming down won’t harm its cause (it’s considerably heavier than many of its rivals) and this will reflect in overall fuel consumption figures as the range of Ingenium 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines will have to work just that little bit harder to get its 1.8-ton kerb weight moving.

In terms of pricing, the E-Pace will have to contend with rivals retailing at lower prices, yet it remains the ideal opportunity for true-blue Jaguar enthusiasts to own a compact luxury crossover that carries the proud Jaguar name.

However, steer clear of the optional 21” wheels; they look great and fill up the wheel arches nicely, but the
20-inchers are more than adequate while providing a marginally softer ride. We think that the E-Pace has the potential to become one of Jaguar Land Rover’s best sellers, provided buyers can overlook some of its shortcomings and the competitive nature of its segment.

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