Jaguar’s here to take a slice of the burgeoning premium small SUV segment with its baby E-Pace; but is it up to the task?
Photos by Azfar Hashim
If your daily commute to and from work requires a drive in our excellent KPE/MCE, you would definitely understand the frustration that comes along with it.
All because of the 70 to 80 km/h speed limit, everyone feels they have the right of way to hog the fastest lane, which is, if you were to read the Highway Code, should only be used for overtaking; hence it causes traffic build up, frustrates you and most time wish you could see who’s the culprit and mentally punch his face 36 different ways.
A host of safety assistance at your service
Now this is where the E-Pace comes in perfectly. Because you sit tall, you get a very clear view of what’s ahead; meaning you can anticipate all the idiocy coming your way: When you see traffic slowing down and coming to a complete halt, you can safely do so. If the bugger ahead decides to cut you off, you can brake or even take evasive action. Then when you have the chance to make the dash and overtake the rest of the traffic, you can simply gun for it.
Yes, I know you will argue that every modern SUV on the road allows the driver to do so, but in the E-Pace here, things happen in a very, very assuring manner as the (a) brakes bites strongly, and (b) the steering responds quickly. Also, because the R-Dynamic suspensions are taut (First Edition model like this test car here comes with R-Dynamic suspension as standard), it won’t nosedive violently and throw your passengers about; it’s very controlled.
Under the bonnet of this cat here lies a turbocharged 2.0-litre in-line 4 Ingenium powerplant that’s mated to a ZF 9-speed automatic ‘box, giving you 245 bhp and 365 Nm of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels, which theoretically, should give you that oh-I-am-so-heavy-I-cannot-move-so-quickly effect.
Unsurprisingly, it does give you that until about 2,300 rpm when the turbocharger is done spooling and ready to give you some whack.
When the road opens up and it’s ready to perform, select Dynamic mode and it does not disappoint. To be brutally honest there is that uninspiring engine note as you pull it anywhere above 3,500 rpm, but the way it moves the car forward somewhat even things out. The E-Pace closes gaps very quickly and when you need to do some quick overtaking maneuvers, the power delivery and brilliant handling will give you the impression you’re - woah - driving a hot-hatch. This is one trait of Jaguar’s baby SUV that truly impresses, putting it ahead of its increasing number of competitors.
Complimenting this is the transmission that works well enough, but of course, there’s more fun in shifting your own gears via the tall gear stick.
Taking corners hard and fast with gusto is the other strength of the E-Pace. The Brits have been known to be among the best in chassis tuning, so to see the E-Pace able to take a series of fast bends without breaking a sweat is welcoming. The Germans should take a closer look and see how this should be standard for their next models.
Over to the driver's cockpit then. You would firstly appreciate how the dashboard and controls are nicely angled towards the driver, together with the clear displays. The dark interior scheme of this E-Pace is pretty much ok, with red stitches found all over the cabin showing off its sporting intent. A nice touch is the large glass roof, brightening things up.
One thing you have to appreciate is the well thought and spacious cabin. Cubbyholes and storage areas are in abundance, and the seats are comfortable for all passengers — which mean the occasional road trip up North will remain enjoyable for yourself and some buddies.
In a nutshell, the E-Pace is a noteworthy effort from Jaguar seeing how it has the substance to match the youthful and sporty exterior. Interior architecture is both modern and comfortable, and the way it has been packaged should have its fair share of fans willing to take one home.
The only downside here? The engine refinement that still needs some attention, which is where the Germans already had sorted.
In case you feel the urge to go off the beaten path
Flick down to select Dynamic mode and get ready for extra fun
577-litres worth of space on offer here