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Jaguar's new baby SUV driven: Meet the E-Pace

2018-03-09 09:32

Janine Van der Post

Image: Jaguar SA

Johannesburg - 'Birds fly, fish swim... and Jaguars roar', claims the automaker as its newest family member, the E-Pace has been launched this week in Mzansi's urban jungle.

The automaker chose Johannesburg's suburban areas to launch its new cub, as it reckons this is the kind of areas the E-Pace will find itself in. 

Jaguar SA's Finance director Liaan Kretzschmar says: "The E-Pace is a new entry point for price and size perspective, especially since we're broadening the target marker to a much younger audience as well.

"The E-Pace is the second model in the Pace range and in essence, the new compact SUV is the combination of comfort, practicality and performance." 

Jaguar also says the I-Pace, the all electric vehicle, and the third in the range, will arrive in South Africa in early 2019.

Jaguar product and pricing specialist, Michelle Mativandlela, says: "The E-Pace's design is unmistakably Jaguar and its their most connected car yet, with peformance to match."

It has big paws in the form of 21" wheels, the first in its class to offer that optional size wheels; big eyes in the form of its huge headlights which are pulled back in the grille and short overhangs and muscular rear haunches.

Its dimensions measure in at 4.39m long with short front and rear overhangs of 882mm and 832mm respectively. Its 2.68m wheelbase seats five adults comfortably with exceptional rear legroom of 892mm.

The E-Pace is available in the following trim levels: Standard, S, SE and HSE specification packs, in core or R-Dynamic body styles. Customers have a choice of three diesel engines, with outputs of 110kW, 132kW and 177kW, and two petrol engines, producing 183kW and 221kW, respectively.

The E-Pace comes in eleven bright paint options, with the daring red paint being unique to the First Edition models. 

Inside, Jaguar claims its rated best in class for its centre console compartment which can hold four one-litre bottles. There's also a 12.3" display screen to configure and the vehicle features the latest generation touch pro infotainment system as standard, while navigation is standard from the S model up. He 10" screen is standard, along with a head-up display and Spotify.

It also has a mammoth boot for its compact size - 577 litres of space - which is larger than most sedans on the market.

                                                                                Image: Jaguar SA

'Wired for Life'

One of its highlights which will make the entire family happy is that there are not just two, but five USB ports available throughout the vehicle, and you can use your E-Pace as a Wi-Fi hotspot with 4G and connect up to 8 devices, also from the S model up. Owners will need to purchase a sim card with the service provider of their choice.

There's a remote smartphone app to control vehicle apps like locking and unlocking, climate control, or you could use your Jaguar activity key while you go out for a run up the mountain or a surf in the sea. Other features include live traffic updates, Blind spot monitoring, drowsiness monitoring, adaptive cruise control.

What's it like to drive?

The E-Pace range is equipped with all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission, and high-output models are also available with Active Driveline – a technological first for Jaguar, says the automaker. 

The automaker also says its new baby doesn't just look the part, but it drives like a Jaguar too. And here I'll concur. The line-up features 2.0-litre engines in five different versions: three diesel and two petrol models, as mentioned earlier.

The E-Pace is based on the Ranger Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport platforms. While it might be a premium compact SUV, it has the looks of a feisty little sportscar.

First up on the launch we sampled the 177kW diesel version and it didn't fail to impress. It's as agile as any jungle cat and extremely boisterous on the road, exuding confidence during twisty sweeps and overtaking manoeuvres. It grunts through the nine gears effortlessly and power is instantaneous. And for a 2.0-litre engine, it proved to live up to its jaunty nature. And was the pick of the bunch for me.

Next up was the 183kW petrol version and for some reason it was a little bit less fun to drive. The gear ratios felt a lot longer and even when using the paddle shifts, there seemed to be a delay in transition from one gear to the next but it seemed that way only because it was searching for longer roads to really show off its vivacious character. 

The 221kW Ingenium petrol turbo engine, which I sadly did not get to test, sends the E-Pace to 100km/h in just 6.4 seconds. It has an electronically-limited top speed of 243km/h.

The E-Pace is competitively priced and definitely opens the market to potential customers who previously felt owning a Jaguar was just out of their reach.

It's a gorgeous car, with favourable dimensions and I predict this could very well be the automaker's volume seller in SA. Only time will tell.

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