Following on the heels of Jaguar’s first SUV the F-Pace comes the all-new E-Pace, a more compact model. In fact, it’s only partly ‘all new’, since the underpinnings of this car share a great deal with the Range Rover Evoque and the Land Rover Discovery Sport from Jaguar’s sister companies.
The E-Pace range is complex, consisting at present of three models, the E-Pace, the E-Pace R-Dynamic which has a sportier flavour to its design and features, and E-Pace First Edition, a limited model available for the first year only.
The E-Pace and E-Pace R-Dynamic are then further layered with four trim levels; base, S, SE and HSE. The range starts at $47,750 plus on-roads but prices quickly rise as you head up the trim level and engine list, topping out at $84,370 for E-Pace First Edition P250. All models are all-wheel-drive and nine-speed automatic only.
We decided to test the E-Pace in the SE D240 (diesel) guise, which is the entry point for some of the high-tech goodies. Notable are the automated driving features in the form of adaptive cruise control and queue assist which, in tandem with lane keep assist, all worked well and instilled confidence, although the lane keeper made quite aggressive steering inputs at times. Standard features of the SE over and above the base E-Pace include LED headlights with auto high beam assist, 19-inch alloys, powered tailgate, wi-fi hotspot, grained leather seats, 14-way electric memory front seats and navigation.
‘First impressions are of an undeniably pretty little SUV, with elements of the F-Type and by extension the Series 1 E-Type in the styling.’
All models in the E-Pace range have autonomous emergency braking designed to work best at city speeds, which contributes to its excellent five-star ANCAP rating. A pedestrian-focussed bonnet airbag is a novel but welcome safety feature on the car.
From the SE upwards you also get high-speed emergency braking and blind spot assist, rear traffic monitor and park assist with a 360-degree parking aid. The screen and camera operation in all modes is among the clearest we’ve experienced. These systems work well, and if you go for a more basic E-Pace these are worth a look as options.
Be warned though, the overall options list for the E-Pace could quickly suck you in very deep. From tyre-pressure monitors to configurable interior lighting, the list is massive. Some are bundled into themed kits such as the Cold Weather pack, while the more oddball such as the wearable Activity Key, (a sort of fitness band-cum-remote) are very much stand-alone.
Some of these options really should be standard, such as the Additional Power Sockets which for a princely sum of $260 gets you three additional USB ports so that your kids can slake the electric thirst of their iPods. It’s the sort of thing less-premium brands now have as standard. Indeed, depending on the model you start with, get trigger-happy ticking boxes on the extras list and you’ll end up with a $100k+ car.
‘Inside the car is modern and contemporary rather than classic, which may disappoint traditional Jag fans used to a distinctive interior.’
The middle-of-the-range E-Pace SE, which starts at $60,030 for the D150, jumps to $73,510 with the modest list of extras and D240 engine as optioned in our test car.
First impressions are of an undeniably pretty little SUV, with elements of the F-Type and by extension the Series 1 E-Type in the styling. They work far better than similar cues on the larger F-Pace, which is a rather slab-sided and ill-proportioned execution by comparison.
Inside the car is modern and contemporary rather than classic, which may disappoint traditional Jag fans used to a distinctive interior. Only the large ‘leaping cat’ on the steering wheel and the display start-up screen distinguish it from any other SUV. It’s well done, apart from a few controls in unusual positions.
Although kitschy, we liked the silhouette of a Jaguar cat and her cub on the windscreen surround. A similar image is projected by the puddle lights in the door mirrors at night. This sort of thing has clearly become an in-joke among car designers.
The E-Pace’s seats up front were comfortable and delivered on that classic Jaguar trait of making you feel like you’re in a cockpit but without feeling cramped. Rear seat comfort on the whole was good, with reasonable legroom. Width could be best described as a ‘friendly’ for three across but that’s par for the course in a car in this category.
The initial feel on the road was that while reasonably agile the E-Pace is clearly no sports car. However, as soon as you selected the Dynamic drive mode, it became a completely different beast. It suddenly felt taut and responsive to steering input, with well-matched gear changes making for a very engaging drive, particularly on twisty roads. The change in character was all the more remarkable given it involved no suspension adjustment, only steering, throttle and gearbox. An Adaptive Dynamic system for the suspension is available for $1950 on some models.
Even though the D240 engine is the most powerful diesel on offer, we found throttle response off the line in our test car a tad hesitant, not helped by a stop/start system that seemed to be on the slower side of average to kick the engine into life. Once going, however, the top-billing diesel lived up to its status, providing flexible and responsive progress at all speeds.
The powerplants in the E-Pace – three diesels and two petrols – are all four-cylinder derivatives of the Jaguar-Land Rover home grown Ingenium family of engines displacing 1999cc. Jaguar denotes its engines according to their horsepower output. The diesels are the D150 (110kW/380Nm), D180 (132kW/430Nm) and D240 (177kW/500Nm), with the two petrol options being the P250 (183kW/365Nm) and the veritable muscle-car P300 (221kW/400Nm).
The E-Pace won’t be to everyone’s taste, but viewed in the context of attracting aspirationals to Jaguar, the contemporary, less traditional feel begins to make sense.
RACV, the provider of Victoria's most trusted car insurance
Six airbags. Autonomous emergency braking. High-speed emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control with queue assist. Pedestrian airbag system. Lane keep assist. Blind spot information. Rear traffic monitor. Driver condition monitor. Reversing camera. Parking assistant. Front and rear parking sensors. ISOFIX childseat fittings. LED daytime running lights.
Ten-inch touch-screen. Satellite navigation. Wi-fi hotspot. AM/FM radio. USB input x 2. 12-volt input x 4. Bluetooth. Voice control (radio and phone only).
Two-zone climate control. Leather seats. 14-way electric memory front seats. Stop/start fuel-saving. Push-button start. Powered tailgate. LED headlights. Alarm.
Options fitted to test vehicle
Fixed panoramic sunroof $2160. Keyless entry $950. 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels $640. Digital radio $430. Extra power sockets $260. Powered gesture tailgate $220.
Three years/100,000km. Fixed price services for five years/102,000km.
These comments are from RACV’s experienced team of vehicle testers. Check out the full range of RoyalAuto car reviews, news and other motoring information at royalauto.com.au.
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