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,E-Pace is well on its way to becoming the company’s best seller Down Under. So, what’s on offer? It comes in 38 variants thanks to what Jaguar calls its ‘Ultimate Customer Choice’, which allows you to build just about 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 on-road costs, and top out at $84,370. On test was an E-Pace D180 R-Dynamic with an rrp of $51,750.
The E-Pace is unmistakably a Jaguar, with cues taken from big brother 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 as a nod to jet engines, and a three-piece upper tailgate spoiler is shaped for optimum airflow.
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 simple and easy 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 and make the climate control functions accessible. A full colour head-up display enables the driver to read info without taking eyes too much off the road.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The D180’s performance diesel engine pumps out 132 kW of power, and 430 Nm of torque at a low 1750 revs.
Mated with a slick nine-speed automatic transmission and state-of-the-art all-wheel-drive, according to the maker, pushes the E-Pace from zero to 100 km/h in 7.4 seconds.
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 Jag’s 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 wheel-mounted shift paddles, so manual mode was not as accessible as if could have been. 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 wet-plate 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 100 kilometres; on the open road it chalked up 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.
AT A GLANCE
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Jaguar dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Jaguar E-Pace D180 R-Dynamic AWD five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.999 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 132 kW @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 430 Nm @ 1750 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 158 g/km
DRIVELINE: Nine-speed automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4395 mm
Wheelbase: 2681 mm
Width: 1984 mm
Height: 1649 mm
Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1768 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 56 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / 100,000 kilometres