2018 Jaguar E-Pace.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace.

Why an SUV is Jag’s bestseller

PRESTIGE brands need a small SUV in their line-up to cash in on the prevailing fever. Jaguar's E-Pace rival for the BMW X2 and Volvo XC40, priced from under $50,000 to nearly $100,000, will appeal to aspirants and show-offs alike.

We sample the S D150 from the cheaper end of town.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

JULES: Shut up and take my money.

IAIN: You like the E-Pace's design then?

JULES: Hate to sound shallow but I don't really care how it drives. It's perfectly sized and that design is, just, wow.

IAIN: Exactly what Jaguar wanted. Build a small SUV within the price range of most, wrap it in a sexy skin and open the order books.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace: Winning size and styling, priced from roughly $50K-$100K.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace: Winning size and styling, priced from roughly $50K-$100K.

JULES: You can get one for under $50K, right? That's enticing for the prestige Jag badge when it looks this sexy.

IAIN: True but the entry-level E-Pace ($47,750) has specification as skinny as a rental car. The
S D150, as here, adds tastier kit for $55K but lacks the performance and glittering aesthetic inclusions of higher-grade versions. These can blow out to over $100K with all the options.

JULES: This one looks sharp in its Firenze Red paint (extra $1370) with LED headlights, daytime running lamps and 18-inch alloys. And I've walked round it a few times. There's just no bad angle, is there?

IAIN: I agree, it's a design triumph. The Jag badge is less "me-too" than the ubiquitous Germans SUVs, too.

 

THE LIVING SPACE

JULES: It's bigger than I thought inside. For our family of four it suits daily life fine.

IAIN: Decent headroom for six-footers in the rear seats, even if legroom's a tad squeezed. For kids it's more than ample.

JULES: If this S model is just above entry-level I think there are plenty of good inclusions.

IAIN: I wouldn't say plenty. Big wins are grained leather, electric seats, navigation, 360-degree parking aid and 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.

Ample interior space: E-Pace is ideally sized for Jules, left, Iain and two young kids.
Ample interior space: E-Pace is ideally sized for Jules, left, Iain and two young kids.

JULES: You want more? You're being greedy.

IAIN: Keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, a power tailgate ($900) and paddle-shifters on the steering would be nice. It's still a $55K car.

JULES: The 10-inch wide-screen is really high quality. But where are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

IAIN: Not available sadly. That'll put smartphone-dependants off.

JULES: Some of the cabin plastics are a bit cheap but otherwise it feels prestige inside.

IAIN: Overall it has class but is let down by some of the finishes - especially the plastic surrounding the gear shifter and tray atop the cupholders. The seats are powered but they're not sink-in comfy. Longstanding Jag types won't appreciate such aspects.

 

THE COMMUTE

JULES: The E-Pace is ideally sized. Not too big for the carpark, comfy and economical on the highway and it has an elevated driving position.

IAIN: If you'll mostly be posing around town - and many E-Pace owners will - it's just right. We managed under 7L/100km for our week's test thanks to the diesel engine. It doesn't have much punch but for traffic and 110km/h cruising it feels refined.

Aim high: E-Pace cabin has classy feel, elevated driving position … but some cheap plastics.
Aim high: E-Pace cabin has classy feel, elevated driving position … but some cheap plastics.

JULES: I thought the engine was all right. It's not a sports car but felt zippy through town.

IAIN: It's a 2.0-litre turbo with 380Nm of torque. You get this entire shove from quite low revs so it's punchy in town but quickly runs out of beans. Power is only 110kW and going from 0-100km/h is a journey at more than 10 seconds.

 

THE SHOPPING

JULES: The weekly shop or the off-to-the-fancy-boutiques shop?

IAIN: Both. I'd still prefer a sports wagon for this money for more practical easy-to-load space.

Style statement: It’s not a sports car but toot capacity is handy: 484L.
Style statement: It’s not a sports car but toot capacity is handy: 484L.

JULES: The boot isn't bad at 484L so the groceries were no drama. With the E-Pace succeeding the Range Rover Evoque as the latest style statement, it wouldn't look out of place in front of Tiffany's.

IAIN: The E-Pace shares a modified version of the Evoque's platform, by the way.

JULES: Fascinating.

 

SUNDAY DRIVE

IAIN: Jag knows how to create a sports car with cracking handling and steering and it's just about carried over to the E-Pace.

JULES: If it were bigger, I'd have driven it more gingerly in corners. Still, the E-Pace was small and fun to punt around.

IAIN: The engine is the lowliest of the range so it really needed to be worked. Not helped by this thing weighing over two tonnes with us both on board.

JULES: A real fat cat then.

Jaguar standard: The handling and steering are fine and there are two versions of AWD.
Jaguar standard: The handling and steering are fine and there are two versions of AWD.

IAIN: Heavier than the bigger Jag F-Pace, which uses a lot more aluminium in its construction. But I found the harder you pushed the E-Pace in the corners the more competent it felt and, yes, quite good fun.

JULES: Throttle response was a bit lazy. A more powerful engine in this car would be practically perfect.

IAIN: You can get a 177kW turbo diesel or rapid 221kW turbo petrol E-Pace if you open the wallet. Pricier ones also get the smart Active Driveline all-wheel drive, too, helping the handling. Our S D150 has a more basic AWD, which I'd suggest 0.1 per cent of owners will test off-road.

 

THE FAMILY

JULES: For two kids under seven, space in the back plus room for both their bikes is plenty.

IAIN: Safety-wise it has the goods. Six airbags plus another for pedestrians, AEB, lane keep assist and rear traffic monitor are included.

 

THE VERDICT

Unanimous: “Should age well,” says Ian. “Happy motoring,” says Jules.
Unanimous: “Should age well,” says Ian. “Happy motoring,” says Jules.

JULES: It's a car to make you feel special. I was excited to get in it each time. Isn't that what happy motoring is all about?

IAIN: That's why the E-Pace has become Jaguar's bestseller straight away. It looks beautiful and should age well. A few cheap plastics aside, these cheaper models make sense for the majority of style-conscious buyers.

 

JAGUAR E-PACE S D150

Jaguar E-PACE R-Dynamic SE D240 - Firenze Red
Jaguar E-PACE R-Dynamic SE D240 - Firenze Red

PRICE From $55,200 (cheap for the badge; key options bump it up)

WTY /SERVICING 3 years/100,000km, $1500 for 5 years (bare minimum warranty, good servicing)

ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 110kW/380Nm (not quick)

SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, rear camera, lane keep assist, 360-degree parking aid, rear traffic monitor, driver monitor (good)

THIRST 5.6L/100km (excellent)

SPARE Space-saver (not ideal)

BOOT 484L (good)