Callum and his team answer with the E-Pace. Cute yet fierce (not unlike a Jaguar cub), the E-Pace borrows the right styling cues from its F-Pace and F-Type family members, while introducing its own flourishes. Priced from R589 500, Jaguar’s second SUV, and new entry-point, is breathes life into an accountant-ordained segment.
The E-Pace’s cabin distinctly communicates the car’s departure from the norm. Certain elements, like the thick-rimmed steering wheel, passenger grab handle, and angled dashboard, are sourced directly from the F-Type sports car. Other signatures, including the center stack’s rotary climate control dials with digital inserts, are shared with the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque (upon which the E-Pace platform is loosely based). The combination of these sporty and sumptuous elements is cohesively upscale.
There’s a fair bit of intelligence beneath the E-Pace’s striking design. A standard 10.0-inch Touch Pro infotainment system fills the center stack with stimulating visuals. The system’s tile-based layout, snappy response, and sharp resolution are segment high-points. A 12.3-inch digital driver display, an innovation traditionally reserved for upmarket models, is available in the range-topping HSE R-Dynamic trim we had for review. Jaguar’s all-new, full-color, heads-up display shows speed limit, navigation, media, and engine data in the driver’s forward view. Two USB ports are standard, and up to five USB connection points are available.
A standard InControl app allows users to lock/unlock, set climate control, and check fuel levels via their smartphone. A Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices, 825-watt Meridian 15-speaker sound system, and activity key (a waterproof wristband to lock/unlock the car) are optional upgrades.
The 2018 E-Pace tiers its driver assistance systems based on trim, starting with low-speed automatic emergency braking, a backup camera, front and rear parking sensors, and lane keeping assist as standard. S models add traffic sign recognition, an adaptive speed limiter (a setting that adjusts the vehicle’s speed based on posted limits), parking assistance, a 360-degree camera, and rear cross traffic alert. SE variants include blind spot monitoring and intervention, full-speed adaptive cruise control, and high-speed automatic emergency braking. This roster of driver aids includes several class-exclusive technologies.
Though its coupe-like silhouette suggests otherwise, the E-Pace is one of the tallest vehicles in its class. Height lends itself to generous headroom for up to five passengers and impressive cargo capacity. However, long-legged rear riders may run into some issues with knee room. Only the longer BMW X1 offers more cargo capacity.
The E-Pace is no sports car, but it does a fine impression of one when faced with a twisty road. As Jaguar’s first front-drive derived model of its all-new lineup, the E-Pace must conquer the physics of understeer. To do that, the SUV uses an active driveline (standard on R-Dynamic models) to shuttle torque between axles and to each rear wheel. When prodded along the Free State’s narrow, serpentine roads, the brake-based torque vectoring system detects grip (not slip) to apply power effectively. When the road straightens and your pace slows, the E-Pace can power just the front wheels to maximise fuel efficiency.
All South African E-Pace models are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and use a new ZF nine-speed automatic transmission. Standard E-Pace SUVs deliver 110kW of power and 380Nm of torque. R-Dynamic models add 221kW . Regardless of tune, the E-Pace is more powerful than its key rivals, the X1 xDrive28i, GLA250 4Matic, and Q3 Quattro.
Graceful and potent on any surface, the E-Pace balances supple ride quality with precise driving dynamics.
Jaguar anticipates the E-Pace will be among its most popular models, with 80-percent of buyers being new to the brand. Still, the company expects its F-Pace midsize SUV to top sales charts. We have a slightly different prophecy – the E-Pace will become the automaker’s best-selling model to date, trumping even the F-Pace. Jaguar’s “cub” has the right look, technology, and price point to become a smash hit.
The German luxury brands make cookie-cutter SUVs; Jaguar sets the mold. The always-connected E-PACE starts at R598 500.