IN a land that seems to be wall to wall SUVs, yet another one has entered the fray. But how will it set itself apart from the myriad of other decent SUVs on the market, and how will it stand out from the crowd?
Well, firstly, it is a Jag. A luxurious, refined, compact sports crossover to be exact, or compact SUV for short. We’d seen pictures of the 2018 Jaguar E-PACE, and our first impressions were of a bulbous and stocky looking car.
But it’s not either of those things. In the flesh it’s a beautiful looking machine, and while it has the generic high standing SUV profile, it manages to look Jag’ish from the grill to the rear bumper.
Simple lines with detailed touches that quietly proclaim its British heritage and even its sporty legacy to a degree are all there, and the interior is no different to the exterior; it’s plush and classy.
Inside you’ll find leather everywhere, and subtle styling across the instrumentation, including an integrated 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment system, set low into the centre console rather than popped up on the top of the dash, a welcome change from its rivals.
Overall though, the interior does feel a little cramped, but this is more likely caused by the big encompassing seats and large bold dash that flows through to the doors, than anything else.
Simple minimal controls for the AC and comfort complete the centre console. Most everything that is adjustable or programmable is managed through the integrated touch screen, can be driven with the controls on the steering wheel, or via voice control.
The SE model came with the full complement of drive assist and safety features, including blind spot monitoring and driver fatigue warnings. Just about all the alarms and assistance tools can be managed from the infotainment system too.
There’s a call home function and the ability to give the car a sim card to talk to Jaguar, which also allows you to turn your car as a WiFi hot spot. Right, that’s the kids entertainment covered then.
The touch screen is fairly intuitive, smooth to use and responsive; setting up phone connectivity was a breeze, as was using the media player and music functions. The inbuilt SatNav is also excellent.
Despite the fact there were lots of options available through the screen menus, we did not feel we were getting lost either. We would also like to point out, the British flavour was taken to the extreme with the systems voice, navigation, alarms and other warnings.
The female voice was not stilted like most computer-generated systems and even had a posh English accent, delightful.
This, coupled with touches like the mud light when you open the door, with the image of a Jaguar and cub, also etched into the bottom of the windscreen, makes the E-PACE feel genuinely British and classy.
The little brother to the successful Jaguar F-PACE, the E-PACE is actually 41kg heavier than its larger sibling, thanks to a full steel chassis, which it also shares with the new Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport.
With the 2.0-litre diesel power plant under the bonnet, and the weight (some 1,851kg), we weren’t sure what to expect, but the E-PACE defied our preconceptions and showed it had plenty of pick up and decent pace.
It’s coupled with a 9-speed automatic transmission and pushes out 177kW of power and 500Nm of torque, and boasts a 0-100km/h time of 7.4 seconds. Not bad at all really. And it handles brilliantly.
While not a huge car, it certainly has a presence on the road. With that in mind, we were worried about big car small car syndrome, but we didn’t feel like Ferdinand the bull in a crockery shop at all.
It handles country roads with aplomb, the steering and power carving the tight twisty roads with ease and cruising at speed was easy and comfortable. As an aside, it’s the first Jag not made in England, built in Austria under contract by Magna Steyr.
And it wouldn’t be a Jaguar without 27,000 options to make it your own, and the E-PACE is resplendent with five interior leather colours; Black, Grey, Tan, Red and Navy Blue, and you can even choose to have contrast stitching.
On the outside, our test car was graced with Firenze Red, but you could also choose Farallon Pearl Black, Caesium Blue, Silicon Silver, Borasco Grey or Indus Silver, and combine with different roof options, and a range of rims.
The level of customisation is fantastic, but you do have to pay for it, and this is where it gets complex with your Jaguar purchase. For example, the E-PACE D240 SE that we were reviewing is valued at approximately $69,000.
But once you added in or removed the several optional extras it came with, that price could be pushed higher or lower. It’s confusing we know, but for anyone serious about buying an E-PACE, you can build your own online and talk prices with a dealer.
The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE comes in four model specifications, the base E-PACE, as well as an S, SE and HSE, with R Dynamic versions available of all models. The range starts at around $45,000 through to the $85,000 HSE P300.
For that money though, you do get 221kW petrol engine, 20-inch wheels and all the options. Prices are plus on-roads of course. In real terms it means the E-PACE is dearer than most of its rivals, but you do seem to get a much better package for the price.
Our test vehicle was provided by Jaguar Australia. To find out more about the 2018 Jaguar E-PACE D240 SE, contact your local Jaguar dealer.