Everybody knew, there was never going to be just one. The success of Jaguar’s first SUV, the F-Pace, was always going to sire additional models.
This is a proven formula established by some of the biggest names in the business such as BMW and Porsche (and a litany of others) who started their SUV portfolios on the back of a well-received debut.
American rocker, Jon Bon Jovi once said something along the lines of “you have a lifetime to write your first record and two weeks to write your second.” Essentially, the pressure is on to strike while the iron is hot.
Enter the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace, it’s the British marque’s first crack at a small SUV. It’s also a car that made it to showrooms in what seems like no time at all. The larger F-Pace only went into production two years ago, yet here we are driving Jag’s second SUV.
Extensive is the only word to describe the E-Pace range, unbelievably, at launch buyers could choose from 38 variants. We are always in favour of consumer choice, but buyers stepping into a premium car for the first time may be slightly overwhelmed by the array of models and options.
There’s also a big price spread, the base model E-Pace starts at $47,750, which is also the entry point to Jaguar’s local range and runs a long way north to $84,370.
For this review, Jaguar has supplied a 2018 E-Pace S P250 which is available from $57,600 plus on-road costs.
At first glance, S models come with a nice array of fruit, LED headlights, grained leather trim, 10-way electric front seats and a 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment system with satellite navigation are all standard.
Jaguar has also stumped up a comprehensive safety package that includes autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, rear traffic monitor and a 360-degree camera system. ANCAP has awarded the E-Pace a five-star safety score.
It needs to be said, at times, Jaguar does itself no favours. Keyless entry, a feature that would be expected by the overwhelming majority of buyers at this price point costs an extra $950. Seems a bit stingy.
To get the E-Pace to market so quickly and keep the pricing competitive, Jaguar has made use of an older platform, the same one found underneath the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. This platform is largely made of steel meaning the E-Pace is going to pay a penalty when it comes to the scales.
Remarkably, the E-Pace weighs more than its big brother. An equivalent F-Pace comes in at 1760kg, our tester weighed 1832kg. This seems to go against the natural order of things. This is unlikely to worry many buyers, but it does prove the use of aluminium in newer underpinnings makes a difference.
Another point of interest, this is Jaguar’s only transverse-engined model. A curious choice that should provide greater packaging flexibility while at the same time destroying hopes of a six-cylinder engine finding a place under the hood.
Powering the E-Pace S P250 is a 2.0-litre Ingenium turbo-petrol engine which is good for 183kW and 365Nm. Those who like a bit of go will appreciate peak torque coming online at only 1200rpm. The engine is a lovely clean reving unit that encourages a heavy right foot.
A nine-speed ZF automatic transmission sends the power to all four wheels. The drivetrain is calibrated for a sporty drive, during brisk acceleration, the ZF holds the cog for a fraction of a second longer than it needs to. The eventual upshift is smoother than anything Nigella can whisk.
Like its stablemates, the E-Pace is an accomplished corner carver. One of the unintended benefits of the car’s weight is how planted it is. Aside from the aesthetics, those big wheels and wide tyres keep the car firmly anchored when given a push.
The body control is very impressive, although it doesn’t feel as balanced at speed as the F-Pace does.
For day to day chores, flicking the car into comfort mode makes the most sense and delivers the most relaxing drive. On poor roads, the Jag does a brilliant job of keeping the lumps and bumps from disturbing the cabin atmosphere.
After a week of driving the S P250 in town and on the highway, it struggles to unleash its personality in the concrete jungle. Not really a good way to be for an SUV looking to capture the attention of city slickers.
The turbo petrol E-Pace needs some space. Get it on the open road and it’s a cracker! Driving the car at speed shows off its skill set. Under 60 clicks, the Jag’s nature is lost – there’s nothing to be gained from caging a Jaguar.
We will be driving a diesel-powered E-Pace next, perhaps a diesel engine will better suit urban commuting?
This test covered 962 kilometres over our test week returning a combined consumption figure of 8.3L/100km. Not too shabby when compared to the official digits.
Now the design, for a small SUV, the E-Pace is anything but. It’s stout with wide haunches and large wheels which give it some presence. When parked next to a regular small SUV, this kitten looks fully grown. It’s much chunkier than any competitors.
The styling is interesting, the E-Pace appears caught between the F-Pace and the F-Type. No, we haven’t lost our bottle, having driven the F-Type earlier this year, both the front and rear lights are the giveaway.
It didn’t take long for us to take a liking to the very unique Borasco Grey exterior paint – in the flesh, it looks terrific and in the interests of individuality worth spending the $1370 it adds to the price.
Moving to the cabin, our example was a bit plain. Some colour is needed to bring some much-needed contrast to the ebony trim. Even a simple contrast stitch would work wonders. Jaguar does offer plenty of interior colour choices and buyers can show some flair.
The rotary gear selector from the F-Pace didn’t get a jersey, instead, the pistol shifter from the F-Type takes pride of place.
The digital instrument cluster is a welcomed addition to the interior, as is the larger Touch Pro infotainment screen. We can’t help but feel it’s now just a waiting game until the infotainment system from the Range Rover Velar migrates across to the Jaguar line.
While on the subject of infotainment, Jaguar is still resisting the move to smartphone mirroring tech which is becoming increasingly common.
A large footprint and compact engine bay do pay dividends when it comes to interior space. The cabin is roomy and will accommodate four adults comfortably. Putting three across the rear seat is going to be a squeeze.
Rear passengers are treated to proper air vents and three USB charging points, while the 484-litre cargo area will swallow enough luggage for a family trip.
With the resolve of the 300 Spartans, Jaguar is continuing with a three-year/100,000km warranty. On the other hand, maintenance intervals are set at a very convenient 12 months/26,000km, whichever comes first.
Service costs are very affordable if buyers purchase a service plan. $1500 covers the petrol E-Pace for the first five years or 130,000km. Good value in anyone's language.
Similarly to its larger stablemate, the E-Pace will fulfil its purpose and bring new buyers to the brand. In the metal, it’s much larger than what we have come to expect a small (or smallish) SUV to be. It doesn’t give much away to mid-size SUVs.
When packing a petrol engine, the E-Pace needs to be driven with some enthusiasm to fully extract its character, something congested city roads will prevent. It’s only when you find the right mix of urban and country driving that the E-Pace S P250 shows its claws and makes plenty of sense.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace S P250 Specifications
Price from $57,600 plus on-road costs Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power 183kW @ 5500rpm Torque 365Nm @ 1200-4500rpm Transmission nine-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 7.7L/100km Tank Capacity 68L Performance 0-100km/h 7.0 seconds Length 4411mm Width 2088mm Height 1649mm Wheelbase 2681mm Ground Clearance 204mm Kerb Weight 1832kg Turning Circle 11.4m Service Intervals 12-months/26,000km Warranty three-year/100,000km
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