Enthusiasts and, to some extent, casual observers would be aware Jaguar is enjoying renewed prominence at the pointy end of the market.
Jaguar is serious about setting a trend or two, just look at the upcoming I-Pace. The fully electric SUV will reach the market before German competitors. It could be argued, Jaguar is no longer trying to squeeze between other premium European brands, instead, the leaper is on a collision course with Tesla.
The future looks bright for the Coventry car maker, but today’s bills need to be paid. To ensure relevance in the current sales race, Jaguar is looking to stake a claim in the booming small SUV market.
After the success of the F-Pace, Jaguar had no choice but to expand its SUV portfolio which leads us to the E-Pace, the brand’s first attempt at a small SUV.
Small SUVs are a remarkably popular choice for buyers taking the plunge and moving to a premium badge.
In saying that, the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace First Edition is far from an entry level model. In fact, it sits at the summit of a 38 model range.
The E-Pace First Edition is fully loaded, 20-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, suede headlining, Windsor leather trim and 18-way heated front seats with memory are standard.
First Edition buyers get a comprehensive safety package that includes high-speed autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic monitor, lane keep assist, driver condition monitor and a 360-degree parking aid.
The First Edition is available with either a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol or diesel engine. Our tester was equipped with the latter. The 2.0-litre oiler under the bonnet develops a healthy 132kW and 430Nm, more than enough for the rigours of any concrete metropolis.
We have already sampled a petrol powered E-Pace, the P250 engine is a cracker but surplus to the requirements of most small SUV owners.
Commuting in a diesel E-Pace instantly removes the urge to plant the right boot. It’s a more subdued engine that produces a noise that isn’t reminiscent of a diesel unit at all. Civilised is the best way to describe the drivetrain, it’s mechanically refined to a level that’s commensurate with a premium badge.
The nine-speed automatic transmission is a beauty, changes are smooth with an inclination to swap up early to keep the revs low. All signs point to efficiency with this one, which isn’t a bad thing. After a 700km test, we returned a consumption figure of 7.0L/100km. While we couldn’t get any closer to the claimed number, for a car of this size and weight, it’s competitive.
Speaking of weight, the E-Pace is well anchored in the bends, it holds on tight with minimal roll. Riding on big wheels wrapped in grippy tyres, the Jag shows considerable poise when it’s pushed.
The E-Pace is dynamically capable to the point it will present a very compelling case when buyer’s measure it against the default BMW.
Configurable Dynamics are standard which allows keen drivers to select steering and suspension settings to suit their driving style and situation.
If you fancy a drive, the baby Jag’s suspension tune is brilliant at highway pace over uneven country roads.
When weighing up the virtues of each engine choice, diesel is more convincing for the applications most E-Pace buyers will expect it to undertake. The oiler is the sensible pick for the daily grind.
According to our count, Jaguar offers the E-Pace with 15 different interior colour combinations, unfortunately, our test cars played it safe will all black cabins. Buyers need to be brave!
In saying that, the interior is well put together with a conventional layout and some very classy touches. The suede headlining makes everything feel cosy and the R-Sport steering wheel is lovely to hold.
Technophiles will be pleased to know the First Edition gets all of Jag’s infotainment goodies as standard. A responsive 10-inch touchscreen dubbed Touch Pro is the centrepiece, supported by Navigation Pro and the brand’s Pro Services. There’s also a Meridian sound system and the car can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot. The only element missing is smartphone mirroring, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would be desirable inclusions for younger buyers.
The very clever (and underrated) Leisure Activity Key is also included. It’s a very useful addition for owners who partake in some exercise.
The Jaguar designs of the last decade have all been very thoughtfully executed. The E-Pace is no exception, the wide haunches, masculine front and sloping roof all look the business. Like the interior, getting the exterior paint and wheels right goes a long way to showcasing the E-Pace’s good looks.
While selecting a model loaded with fruit is convenient, it also removes some of the trepidation that often accompanies a premium marque’s options list. The E-Pace First Edition wants for nothing but it will cost ya. The First Edition diesel comes in at a significant $80,952 plus on-road costs. For a model that is sold as a small SUV, it’s expensive.
That sort of coin could comfortably purchase a well-appointed midsize model.
Jaguar recently announced the new I-Pace electric SUV would get a five-year warranty as standard. The wider Jaguar range, including the E-Pace, all retain three-year/100,000km warranty coverage.
The skinny warranty is easier to swallow when you consider the maintenance intervals are set at a very convenient 12 months/34,000km, whichever comes first. Service costs are very affordable if buyers purchase a service plan. $1500 covers the diesel E-Pace for the first five years or 102,000km. Good value in anyone's language.
Jaguar has again presented a compelling alternative to the usual suspects. The diesel E-Pace is dynamically engaging, frugal and mechanically refined. All the things a small SUV should be. The D180 engine tune is better suited to the rigours of commuting in the big city.
Like all modern Jags, the E-Pace is a worthy option if you value the drive. The broad model range ensures something for everyone, however, finding the sweet spot based on individual needs will be the challenge.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace First Edition D180 Specifications
Price from $80,952 plus on-road costs Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 132kW @ 4000rpm Torque 430Nm @ 1750rpm Transmission nine-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 5.6L/100km Tank Capacity 55L Performance 0-100km/h 9.3 seconds Length 4411mm Width 2088mm Height 1649mm Wheelbase 2681mm Ground Clearance 204mm Kerb Weight 1843kg Turning Circle 11.4m Service Intervals 12-months/34,000km Warranty three year/100,000km
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