► Jaguar E-Pace first drive
► New compact Jag SUV
► Top 296bhp petrol examined
The world domination of the SUV continues apace – or E-Pace, on this occasion – with a brand new Jaguar off-road-alike that slots under the F-Pace each bodily and alphabetically.
Rather than stealing gross sales from the bigger automotive Jag reckons the E-Pace will carry new, youthful clients via the door – and there are actually sufficient of them; compact crossovers like this made up 40% of world SUV gross sales in 2016, and that quantity is simply anticipated to extend.
It was inevitable, subsequently, that the E-Pace would come alongside in the end. Premium rivals just like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 have been ploughing this specific furrow for years – and even sister-brand Land Rover is at it with the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque.
Enough with the farming metaphors, what’s the Jaguar E-Pace prefer to drive?
Unsurprisingly it sits on the identical platform as these JLR kinfolk (a chassis that may hint its heritage to the earlier Ford Mondeo) however the E-Pace is extra about sporting efficiency than off-road capacity.
It’s powered solely by 2.Zero-litre, four-cylinder Ingenium engines starting from a 148bhp diesel to a 296bhp petrol as used within the F-Type, though the latter’s soundtrack is a little more business-like within the E-Pace.
You can have a six-speed guide gearbox or nine-speed ZF auto, plus two and all-wheel drive configurations, however the prime petrol engine is AWD auto solely. That means mechanically talking a minimum of it’s a rival to all-wheel-drive scorching hatches just like the VW Golf R or Audi S3.
Think about it – hatchback patrons are flocking to small SUVs like this, and in the end scorching hatch clients will begin doing the identical. You can count on to see increasingly performance-focused compact crossovers – the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, Seat Ateca Cupra and VW T-Roc R are just the start.
For now, although, the highest E-Pace is just a little off the precise tempo. Granted it’s not a correct S-badged automotive however its Zero-62mph time of 6.four seconds received’t fear a Golf R, whereas Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 drivers will merely go away you of their mud. Still, a minimum of you received’t have to take a look at a GLA 45 anymore.
It’s actually not sluggish however hauling 1894kg round means though the E-Pace feels muscular on the transfer, its efficiency off the road isn’t fairly as glowing. The nine-speed automated transmission can be fairly hesitant and there have been no gearshift paddles on our automotive, so it was tough to overrule.
Oh. Does it deal with nicely?
It’s actually agency and the physique management is sort of neat because of this, however the brakes don’t encourage confidence as there’s little or no really feel via the pedal, which doesn’t mete out its energy with a lot linearity.
The AWD system is grippy, nevertheless, in contrast to different present Jaguar fashions the E-Pace is ready as much as be predominately front-driven for financial system, whether or not you choose the two-wheel drive mannequin or the AWD automotive we’re in.
If you will have the usual AWD driveline the system shuffles torque between the axles as you’d count on, however should you specify the Active Driveline (out there on the highest petrol and diesels) you get a trick twin-clutch rear differential just like the Range Rover Evoque and Ford Focus RS.
There’s no drift mode this time, however you do get intelligent vectoring on the rear axle to assist hold issues neat and tidy, sending 100% of rear axle torque to whichever wheel has extra grip. Pick the usual driveline and also you make do with simply the brake-based torque vectoring system.
Is it nicely outfitted?
This near-top spec HSE automotive actually is, boasting 20-inch alloys, powered gesture tailgate, keyless entry and 12.Three-inch digital dials. The trim construction offers you the selection of the usual E-Pace or the sportier R-Dynamic model, after which from there you may add totally different gear packs known as S, SE and HSE.
Early adopters can get their arms on a First Edition mannequin which sits above SE trim and will get you a pano roof, white leather-based seats, ambient inside lighting, head-up show and the Configurable Dynamics particular person driving menu.
The inside is properly styled and visually cohesive, save for a number of areas the place totally different panels and sections meet at awkward angles, notably across the infotainment display. There’s a great deal of cabin cupboard space and techy choices like a Wi-Fi hotspot for eight units, too.
Overall the E-Pace appears like a step ahead for Jaguar, notably within the quantity of tech on provide and the cabin design. It’s nonetheless behind the Audi Q3 on this regard nevertheless, and mechanically talking it doesn’t really feel as polished because the BMW X1, notably when it comes to refinement and transmission calibration.
Where the Jag does shine brighter nevertheless is within the seems to be division, with a personality and elegance all of its personal – in contrast to the (admittedly good-looking) Giulia-on-stilts Alfa Romeo Stelvio.
As for this P300 mannequin, whereas efficiency isn’t precisely missing it’s not notably thrilling both, so we’d anticipate an S-badged automotive if you’d like a correct scorching hatch rival.
In the true world the place you spend 80% of your time caught behind a cell library you’re higher off total with one of many diesel fashions, all of which (apart from the bottom D150) function extra driveable, torquier (albeit rattlier) motors than this.
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