#CarNews: Jaguar unveils the E Pace compact luxury soft roader

Jaguar marches forward in its quest to grow its SUV portfolio with the introduction of the E Pace soft roader. This release comes hot on the heels of its highly successful  F Pace and Jaguar believes that the E Pace will definitely follow the similar path of its bigger sibling.

Yours truly was invited to sample the E Pace in the beautiful Corsican environment and here’s what I experienced. Developed to compete with the likes of the newly launched BMW X2, Mercedes GLA and Volvo’s XC40, the E Pace already has it’s work cut out for it in a highly competitive segment.

DESIGN

The E Pace is an amalgamation of two distinctive designs that gives it’s unique identity yet still has the DNA of its larger Jaguar family. Visually, the E Pace borrows a few styling cues from its F-Pace and F Type siblings.

The designers intentionally decided to add the F Type’s sporty flare and character by incorporating the similar style  headlamps  complete with Jaguar’s trademark J-Blade LED signature. The front bumper and grille are deep and assertive, which also encompasses some active aero vanes tacked in behind.

THE CABIN

Step inside and you will notice the look and feel of the surfacing is more premium. The fully digital  instrument binnacle is logically designed to give the driver vital information and also incorporates a Heads Up Display as well as to ensure less distraction when driving the E Pace.  The dashboard design is straight off the F-Type complete with the center console ‘pistol grip’ grab handle. The highlight of the center console is the 12.1 inch touch pro multimedia interface that allows you to control the navigation, climate control and the premium Meridian Audio system. Jaguar went for the minimalist design with less buttons and knobs, but instead used toggles – the switches and knobs enhanced the character of the E Pace.

The well sculptured front electric seats are lined with perforated soft leather and are lumbar supportive – perfectly suitable for long distance driving. Leg and head room is sufficient and is suitable for a young family. The boot is spacious and is sufficient to carry luggage and groceries.

FIRE POWER

The E Pace will be powered exclusively by the four cylinder Ingenium engine family starting with the 221kW/400Nm P300 turbo petrol and the torque 177kW/500Nm D240 turbo diesel variants (Kenya and SSA will get the D180 and D150 versions). Power is sent to all four paws courtesy of a 9-speed ZF. Gearbox coupled with an active driveline All Wheel Drive system that actively distributes torque on different surfaces, logically controlled by Jaguar Surface Control System.

RIDE AND HANDLING

Corsica is famously known for its twisty mountains from passes made famous by the World Rally Championship. This set up is ideal to test overall vehicle set-up. Despite that the E Pace shares its underpinnings with the Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar engineers reworked the chassis by increasing torsion rigidity by 28% using boron steel, and revised suspension set up to give the E Pace the best compromise between handling and passenger comfort.

The unique McPherson front strut now features a new steering knuckle (similar to a double wishbone set up) that alloys precision steering inputs without sacrificing off-tar performance. At the rear, the integral link setup also offers maximum agility and superior ride comfort.

When you bury your right foot the throttle response is urgent, toggle the Dynamic drive switch and the vehicle transforms into a guided Trident missile; throttle response sharpens, swift gear changes and the steering beefs up for precise control. Even on sharp bends and crests the E Pace never lost composure, of course aided by the Vectoring Control by Braking software embedded in the All Surface Control All Wheel Drive System.

SUMMARY

The E Pace gives you  a sneak peak of Jaguar’s future intentions; enhanced driving pleasure and performance. Locally, it will have serious competition from the BMW X2 and Mercedes GLA. Question is does it give the consumer better value for money? In my opinion, the E Pace’s breadth of capabilities both on and off tar gives it an  edge over its rivals, and coupled with its enticing warranty will give the owners peace of mind.

The Jaguar E-PACE will be available at RMA Motors  from March 2018 and comes with the Jaguar Five-year Care Plan: a five-year/100 000km service plan, a five-year/100 000km maintenance plan and a five-year/100 000km warranty, as standard.

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