Jaguar E-Pace: One part compact SUV, one part sports car
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When Jaguar announced it was making a compact SUV, you’d think that the designers at the HQ in the UK would just make a scaled down version of the F-Pace off-roader.
Nope, instead Jaguar looked at another vehicle in its range for inspiration; the F-Type sports coupe.
So meet the Jaguar E-Pace, part compact SUV, part sports car — but a whole lot of fun and just what the customers are after.
First, to confuse things a bit, the E-Pace isn’t the electric model, that’s the I-Pace. (And, no, we don’t understand either why Jag didn’t keep the letter “e” for the electric model).
Anyway, the E-Pace is on sale now in New Zealand, starting at $69,900 and topping off at $99,900 for the limited First Edition model.
There are six models in the E-Pace range: two petrol turbo models and turbo diesel, both 2-litre from Jaguar’s Ingenium engine family.
The line-up has three model specifications: S, R-Dynamic S and R-Dynamic SE with plenty of add-on packages. The E-Pace 2-litre diesel (110kW/380Nm) is priced at $69,900.
Next up is the S P250 2-litre petrol (184kW/365Nm) from $74,900. The R-Dynamic S D180 diesel (132kW/430Nm) and the petrol P250 are $79,990 while the petrol R-Dynamic SE P250 is $84,900 and petrol P300 (221kW/400Nm) $89,900.
Competition in the premium segment comes from BMW’s X2, Mercedes-Benz’s GLA, Audi’s Q5 and Volvo’s XC40.
But Jaguar is playing a different game from the above brands by pushing diesel, despite a decrease in that powertrain in our market.
Jaguar New Zealand’s boss, Steve Kenchington, told media at the recent launch of the E-Pace that he sees a demand for diesel.
“We see the [E-Pace] mix at about 60/40 petrol/diesel. We actually see it as a competitive advantage, especially against our German friends who aren’t bringing diesel,” he said. “There’s definitely still a huge market for diesel in this country and we don’t see it ending any time soon. We’ve not seen any drop-off.”
Another point of difference Kenchington pointed out is that the E-Pace models are all-wheel — rather than front-wheel — drive.
Jaguar is keen to show off the F-Type DNA in the E-Pace with the headlights, featuring assemblies that extend into the front guards with J-blade daytime running lights, just like they do on the F-Type.
It also has similar tail lights and a coupe-like window line, while the cabin has strong F-Type elements such as a deeply recessed driving position framed with the same centre stack as the F-Type and even to the grab handle positioned on the front passenger side.
The bonnet is sports car-like thanks to the muscular appearance; at 4400mm long, 1650mm tall and 1994mm high it’s a solid-looking SUV.
It shares the same chassis as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque with Jaguar’s front and rear suspension.
The standard specification list is impressive, the S and R-Dynamic S having dual zone climate air, 10-inch touchscreen system with nav and Pro Service functions, cruise control, lane departure, rear camera, LED lights, 18-inch or 19-inch alloys, electric and heated front seats with leather trim and a 360-degree parking aid. The R- Dynamic SE has 20-inch, a powered tailgate, smart key, Meridian sounds, and adaptive cruise control.
We had the First Edition R- Dynamic SE for a week and with the E-Pace new to our market it caused a lot of attention, not just on the Auckland roads, but in Driven’s work car park with NZME colleagues keen to check out a vehicle on their potential purchase list.
I appreciated the ride height and sports coupe style interior but some of my passengers (and potential buyers) didn’t like the voluminous dash or the narrow rear windows.
It’s a premium-looking vehicle, too, and a product that will attract customers who either revere the Jaguar history or want to buck the German vehicle trend.
It’s an easy vehicle to live with, seating five people, though four in comfort, with a large boot.
Handling is easy, despite it being higher than the GLA, and on the road I kept it in comfort mode until I hit the motorway and engaged “dynamic”, which is more of a sport mode than the name suggests, holding revs longer and firming the steering up.
Jaguar NZ expects to sell 250 E-Pace models per year, making it the biggest seller in its range.