Jaguar style comes at a premium
We've had ample time with Jaguar’s E-Pace over the past year or so since its launch around the same time as the arrival of its BMW's X2 and the Volvo XC40 rivals. Both E-Paces we had were sportier, if perhaps garish top-end petrol models, which we found to be perhaps a bit too pointed for the average taste, so we were keen to get behind the wheel of one perhaps a little more intended for the regular guy or girl.
My attention immediately pricked up the moment I approached and then boarded the cherry red D240 AWD derivative — first of all, its less testosterone-inflicted look is far more appealing — even inviting, I’d say. Then the darker cabin is also a more serene experience versus the brash orange leather beset affront in the sportier version — all in black it’s far easier on the eye in there, so straight up I was immediately better at home behind the wheel.
Maybe with that in mind, my views were already more positive overall, but this diesel seems a driver-friendlier compromise — more pliable on the road and more Jaguar like and than that brash white car. Anyway, E-Pace is allegedly inspired by the great E-Type, so perhaps they were trying a touch too hard to impress the performance driver with the R, but methinks this one far better fits the Jaguar bill.
Handy on the road, E-Pace packs Dynamic, Normal, Eco and Slippery driving modes and driver configurable steering, throttle and engine settings and the E-Type’s dwarf grandchild comes complete with a G-meter and a lap timer, were you ever so inclined to require such data. Powered by a creamy 177kW 500Nm version of JLR’s 2-litre turbodiesel driving all four wheels through a slick 9-speed paddle-shifter autobox, the otherwise quite refined lump produces a bit of a turbodiesel rattle on start-up and a a little more further up the rev range too.
Jaguar claims a rapid 7.4 second zero to hundred and we achieved 7.16 seconds, which is on the sharper side of the class this HSE plays in — JLR’s so-called Ingenium turbodiesel is torquey, drivable and fluid, that box seems seamless and it drives well. Definitely has all the right Jaguar cred, but there are also a couple of elephants in this room.
E-pace for starters employs the old Range Rover Evoque platform to weigh in at a lardy 1843kg — even heavier than the bigger F-Pace. Odd, considering all that extra weight not only robs this car of a likely precious performance and dynamics edge, but it also no doubt blunts fuel consumption and thus that all important CO2 emissions number that determines its tax, too.
Not sure why Jaguar makes such a fuss about all this e-car nonsense when so much economy can be freed up by just putting existing cars like this on a much-needed diet. Anyway, Jaguar claims an already dubious 6.2 l/100 km, but this little 240 could not come close to that on the road with more petrol than diesel-like consumption.
The other question is price — E-Pace comes with a fair standard specification, but to get to the delectable levels of luxury our test unit delivered, you need add a hundred grand or so to the already heady R850K asking price. In other words, this entry-SUV is close to a million-buck machine, which does seem a tad out of proportion, especially with some superb options around for half the price.
So you will need to decide whether the likes of that 12.3-inch digital instruments with head-up display, Ebony Windsor leather clad 18-way power, heated or cooled sports front pews, 360-degree surround camera, panoramic sunroof and the like, fit your bill.
Standard kit the likes of dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, front and rear park distance control with rear camera, parking pilot, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and a 380W Meridian sound system with 11 speakers, is however generous. That 577 litre boot is also pretty generous and the 60/40 split rear bench folds forward to deliver 1234 litres of utility space, but that E-Type inspired roof line will compromise longer people sitting in the rear seats and there's ample goodie storage space from the handy central storage bin too.
So there you have it, this portly little SUV that thinks it has E-Type genes may not quite cut that mustard, but it is a really cool alternative in a very busy neck of the woods and if you are prepared to part with the premium required for the E—Pace to set you apart, it’s probably worth a look-see... — Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Jaguar D240 AWD R-Dynamic HSE
Engine: 177kW 500Nm 2-lirte turbodiesel I4
Drive: 9-speed automatic AWD
0-60km/h: 3.11 sec
0-100km/h: 7.16 sec
0-160km/h: 18.09 sec
400m: 15.1 sec @ 147km/h
80-120km/h: 5.30 sec
120-160km/h: 7.93 sec
Fuel: 6.2 l/100km
CO2: 162 g/km
Warranty/Service: 5y 100K/5y 100Kkm
LIST PRICE: R858K