Jaguar E-PACE

R-Dynamic SE

Jaguar E-Pace, front
Jaguar E-Pace, front
Jaguar E-Pace, front
Jaguar E-Pace, side
Jaguar E-Pace, rear
Jaguar E-Pace, rear
Jaguar E-Pace, interior

THE sports utility vehicle - or SUV - is a modern-day motoring marvel and motorists have taken to them in the millions.

They are so popular that even Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini have produced them.

Having never had an SUV in its line-up until 2015, Jaguar now has three - the F-PACE, E-PACE and I-PACE.

A little confusingly in these days of electric vehicles, the E in Jaguar's hugely popular E-PACE does not stand for electric. The British marque's first all-electric SUV is the I-PACE, the current World Car of the Year.

Instead, the E-PACE, which sits beneath the larger F-PACE in the Jaguar range, is a five-seat compact SUV that packs the design and performance of a Jaguar sports car into a spacious and practical all-wheel drive vehicle. Over the past 12 months, it's swiftly become Jaguar's best-selling model.

Unlike the larger F-PACE, the E-PACE looks more dynamic, more aggressive. With muscular haunches, the teardrop rear side windows, slim, blade-like rear lamps, its shared DNA with the F-Type two-seater is apparent. Inside, its wraparound cockpit is directly inspired by the F-Type.

And what a cockpit it is. Premium leathers are used on key touch-points such as the steering wheel, centre-console grab handle and gear shifter. Soft trimmed door casings with cool touch satin chrome door handles, the beautifully crafted leather-clad facia and seat upholstery with twin-needle stitching ooze refinement.

The 10-inch touchscreen for the latest version of Jaguar's Touch Pro infotainment reduces the number of hard switches while tactile rotary dials operate the climate control functions.

Ready to cater for the needs of modern families, digital connectivity can be found throughout the cabin - there are up to four 12-volt charging points and five USB connections as well as a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices.

The centre console compartment has enough sPACE for four large water bottles, and the lockable glovebox can hold more than 10 litres. If that's not enough storage, the front and rear door bins are huge too.

With the 60:40 split folding rear seats in place, the boot has 577 litres of space - enough room for a folded baby buggy; a full set of golf clubs sideways or six flight suitcases. Putting the seats down, creates 1,234 litres of sPACE.

And, despite the E-PACE being a ‘compact SUV' - it is exceptionally roomy. A 6ft tall passenger can comfortably sit behind an equally tall driver or front seat passenger.

As you would expect from a topline manufacturer, the E-PACE comes very well equipped indeed but you can also specify an R-Dynamic model.

This doesn't add any extra kit but makes the SUV look racier, adding body-hugging sports seats, brushed stainless steel treadplates and pedals. and paddleshifts.

Though, to be frank, they're best left alone. On the outside, there's a different front bumper with deeper air intakes and fog lights, a slightly different rear diffuser and different alloys.

Both the E-PACE and its R-Dynamic sibling are available with S, SE and HSE specification packs and a choice of five powertrains - three 2.0-litre diesels and two petrol.

The pair of 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo units deliver 250ps or 300ps and only come matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission, so slick the gear change is almost imperceptible.

It's so mind-blowingly clever that, when cornering, the transmission uses acceleration and pedal position data to gauge whether or not to prevent unwanted upshifts. By measuring the throttle position in this way, the intelligent transmission can anticipate driver requests for more power, ensuring the correct gear is always selected.

The E-PACE's Active Driveline all-wheel drive system is a technological first for Jaguar.

This intelligent set-up combines phenomenal traction with Jaguar's unmistakeable rear-wheel drive character. The system's torque-biasing capability reacts to driving conditions to seamlessly distribute engine torque for optimal control and confidence in all circumstances.

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing in the E-PACE, you always feel in control.

Again, as you would expect, the E-PACE features the very latest safety and driver assistance technologies such as an Emergency Braking system, Lane Keep Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition, as well as a Driver Condition Monitor feature.

Front and rear parking aids are standard, as is a Forward Traffic Detection system which warns drivers of approaching vehicles at junctions where visibility is restricted.

As a family car then, it's extremely well-suited. But that Jaguar DNA and those new technologies add some fine sports car dynamics.

Not only is the E-PACE very comfortable, smooth and quiet, you can have utter faith whenever you point it into a corner at speed. All that clever technology means this Jaguar purrs through corners with ease and, despite its relative height, with virtually unnoticeable body roll.

Though it is comfortable and refined, it is quite a firm ride, especially on the R-Dynamic SE's 19-inch wheels. And particularly at lower speeds. It's also a little thirsty. Though it officially returns nearly 35mpg, over 400 miles, I managed just 25.3mpg.

FAST FACTS

Jaguar E-PACE R-Dynamic SE

Price: £42,000

Mechanical: 247bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:143mph

0-62mph: 7.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 34.9

Insurance Group:36

C02 emissions:185g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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