Audi SQ7 VS Jaguar E-Pace
- Improved value
- Punchy diesel engine
- Cutting-edge interior
- Hefty weight
- Touchscreens are finger-print magnets
- Short warranty
- Exterior design
- Steering feel
- Affordability (for a Jag)
- Cheap interior touches
- Jiggly ride
- No CarPlay
With car brands turning away from diesel engines in favour of more efficient petrol and hybrid powertrains, Audi has bucked the trend and stuck with an oil-burner for its latest SQ7 large SUV.
Outside, the SQ7 looks a little different thanks to a new front grille, but it's the changes on the inside that headline this update.
A dual-screen set-up is now found on the centre console, replacing the old version's button-heavy design, but is this enough to keep the Audi SQ7 competitive against its rivals?
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
The E-Pace is a new Jaguar, or is it? Jaguars used to be something your boss drove, cars with a whiff of snob about them, as well as subtle scents of cigar, whisky, mahogany and Old Spice.
They were also loud, powerful and proud machines, and as British as referring to Australians as “colonials”.
The E-Pace, on the other hand, is a small SUV that smells, sounds and seems like a lot of other cars in what Jaguar refers to as, “the hottest segment in the car world; premium soft-roaders". If that sentence alone, coming out of a Jaguar spokeshead’s mouth, doesn’t sum up the way the company has changed, I don’t know what does.
Making your brand more affordable while still making it look desirable is a hell of a profitable trick, if you can get away with it.
What does set it apart, however, aside from that tempting price point, is its looks. Jaguar’s genius designer, Ian Callum, has done it again, creating a simply sexy vehicle that’s so instantly desirable that Australians have piled in with pre-orders, so many of them that the company is already certain the E-Pace will be its biggest-selling model.
Those customers who’ve slapped down deposits without even sitting in one, let alone driving it, might be in for a few surprises.
The E-Pace might not be the full Jaguar, but is it a cute enough cub to cut it? We drove as many variants as we could at the Australian launch to find out.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Audi has thrown many ingredients into a blender to make the smoothie that is the SQ7, but while some of those elements might seem like they clash on paper, the brand has pulled off an absolute taste sensation.
The SQ7 is perfectly at home at slow speeds around town being a comfortable family hauler, and is also a credible performer in the bends.
The diesel engine also gives the SQ7 a unique point of difference, and serves up a nearly unmatched torque punch.
Add to that, the fact that Audi has thrown in more equipment for a slightly reduced asking price, and the SQ7 deserves its spot at the top of the large luxury SUV consideration list.
There is absolutely no question the Jaguar E-Pace will be a huge success for the company, and will increase the number of Jags you see on the road exponentially. Much as the German brands have done, since way back when Mercedes launched its A-Class, the British brand has now made itself attainable to the masses.
There’s plenty to love about the way the E-Pace looks, particularly from the outside, and about how it drives. There are, however, some niggles that suggest you might want to test drive one before slapping down your hard earned, and the cheap-feeling plastics in the interior, even in up-spec models, will disappoint some people. Overall, though, Jaguar has built an absolute banker.
Check out Peter Anderson's E-Pace video from its international launch earlier this year.
Could the E-Pace be your first Jaguar? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
In fact, compare an SQ7 side-by-side with a Q7 and only the most keen-eyed punters will be able to spot the difference.
Look closely though, and you will see 22-inch wheels, S Line bodykit, different bumpers and red brake callipers, as well as quad-exhaust tips.
It's subtle – especially in our test car's Navarra Blue paintwork – and we dig that the SQ7 is statelier in appearance than shouty, despite its Audi Sport designation.
Differentiating the 2020 SQ7 from its predecessor is a new front grille, which now sports vertical slats instead of horizontal ones, and updated headlights.
However, it's the inside of the SQ7 that gets the biggest design updates to bring it into the new decade.
The centre console now houses two large touchscreen displays, one for the multi-media system and the other for the climate controls, replacing the old SQ7's numerous buttons.
While the screens look fantastic, they attract fingerprints like a magnet after a little use.
Audi has seen fit to include a screen-wiping cloth in the glovebox of the new SQ7, but grubby and greasy fingers will infuriate the neat freaks out there.
The dashboard has also been reworked to suit the new screens, with integrated ‘hidden' air vents, and gloss-black and matt-brushed aluminium detailing.
Sports seats also feature, finished in Valcona leather with diamond stitching, but tall front passengers should take note as the headrests are not adjustable.
The preceding SQ7 cabin might have cut the mustard at the time, but the interior of luxury cars has moved on in leaps and bounds since 2016, so it's great to see the new version scoring a significant upgrade.
Frankly, design might just be the E-Pace’s most important feature. It manages to make a small SUV look genuinely desirable by being sexily shapely and perfectly proportioned. This is a seriously difficult trick to pull off, but it’s one that Jaguar has done before, with the hugely successful F-Pace, so this is a case of giving people slightly less of the same.
There really isn’t an angle from which the E-Pace doesn’t look good, but the more money you throw at your car, the better it looks, as the wheels grow from the standard 17-inch ones to very tough looking optional 21-inch units.
At the bottom end of the spec chart, on that sub-$50,000 version that almost no one will actually buy, you don’t even get exhaust tips, and indeed at first glance it looks like the car doesn’t have pipes at all (a weedy little pipe is tucked away underneath), and this does look a bit ordinary.
More chrome and shiny bits are thrown at the car as you move up the price points, and the R-Dynamic spec is obviously the sexiest version of all.
What’s interesting is how different the design feels once you get inside. Imagine being given the famous blue box from jewellers Tiffany and finding a plastic cereal-box ring inside and you’re somewhere near the E-Pace experience.
There is some really quite nasty cheap plastic around the gear lever, in the doors, and right around the window switches in an area you’ll touch every day. The shabby grey plastic surround of the shifter is made of the kind of nasty stuff Hyundai no longer uses.
Not only can you see that it will mark up and wear quite badly, but if you tap on it it makes the kind of noise you’d expect from a kids’ lunch box.
Fortunately, the steering wheel still feels premium, the touchscreen is large and top quality and there’s plenty about the E-Pace that reflects Jaguar design, but it’s hard to get past the feeling that the corners that have been cut to save money are showing so clearly you could cut yourself on them.
Measuring 5067mm long, 2212mm wide, 1743mm tall and with a 2996mm wheelbase, the SQ7 is a sizeable large SUV.
Its large dimensions translate well to interior space, with enough room to seat four adults and three children comfortably.
The front seats are the best in the house for room, but storage options are surprisingly limited.
Large door bins can house big bottles, and then some, but the central storage bin tucked under the armrest is disappointingly shallow.
The dual-screen set-up in the centre console also means the SQ7 loses the small storage tray found ahead of the shifter, but at least the generously-sized cupholders remain.
In the second-row, my six-foot frame fits comfortably in the outboard seats with plenty of head-, shoulder- and legroom, even with the front seats set in my preferred position.
The middle seat in the second row is harder to get comfortable on, partly due to its smaller size, but children should have no problem, even during long journeys.
Each seat is also individually adjustable, able to slide and fold independently.
The second-row doors have generous door pockets for bottle storage, while the fold-down armrest sports two cupholders.
As for the third row, however, it's a little trickier to get comfortable with the limited room, but the space isn't too bad for occasional use or small kids. It even has its own set of cupholders!
The SQ7's boot only accommodates 235 litres when all seats are in place, however, stow the third row and that figure swells to 705L.
With the 40:20:40 second row also folded, volume increases to 1890L.
Even with all seats in place though, the SQ7 offers enough for some groceries or a stroller, while the cut-outs in the side should even help with a golf bag.
While the interior might feel cheap in places, it’s certainly spacious, with excellent headroom front and rear, and a sense of light and airiness that’s much helped by optioning the panoramic glass roof (for a hefty $2160).
Jaguar claims its rear seats are so large customers will shop the E-Pace against bigger vehicles, like BMW’s X3, rather than just direct competitors like the X2. This might be a stretch, but I certainly found it comfortable enough to sit behind my own seating position (I’m 175cm/5'9") without my knees touching the seat back. Shoulder room is also good and four adults could certainly ride in this car in comfort.
Sadly, the seats aren’t quite as comfortable as you might hope, being slightly flat and unsupportive, particularly in the cheaper models.
There’s a cheap-feeling oddments tray that covers two differently sized cupholders between the seats, which can be lifted off and stowed in a good-sized storage big under your left elbow. Another oddment storage tray, made of a quite ugly plastic, sits underneath the head unit and there are large storage pockets in the doors, front and rear, as well as storage for large bottles. Boot space is also reasonably capacious at 484 litres.
Price and features
Priced at $161,500 before on-road costs, the new SQ7 is $400 cheaper than its predecessor.
While a $160,000-plus pricetag is certainly nothing to scoff at, this is about lineball with other large performance SUVs.
According to Audi, the SQ7 now has more than $15,000 worth of added equipment compared to before, including red-painted brake callipers, a panoramic sunroof, 22-inch wheels and rear-axle steering that were options before.
Standard equipment in the SQ7 includes adaptive air suspension, Matrix LED laser headlights, four-zone climate control, push-button start, wireless smartphone charger, heated front seats, powered tailgate with kick operation, soft-close doors, power-folding third-row seats and heated side mirrors.
Audi's excellent 12.3-inch virtual cockpit unit also carries over as before, and is as intuitive and great to use as it has been since debuting on the third-generation TT.
The headline change to the new SQ7, however, is the new multimedia and climate control system, which now matches the A6, A7 and A8 passenger cars with a screen that measures 10.1 inches up top and an 8.6-inch display down below.
Both screens feature haptic feedback, making it feel as if you are clicking a button, but thankfully volume controls are handled by a physical knob.
Despite the extra standard equipment, options are still available and include carbon-fibre interior highlights ($1950), black exterior detailing ($1450), and a Sensory Pack ($13,300) that bundles an up-rated sound system, Alcantara headliner, cooled front seats and more in-cabin leather.
There’s no doubting the perceived value of offering a vehicle with a Jaguar badge that starts under $50,000, an idea that would have seemed unimaginable not so long ago.
And if we all bought cars by the kilogram, the E-Pace would certainly be a bargain, because it’s a heavy beast of a thing, far outweighing any of its competitors at not far off two tonnes.
And there’s certainly an astonishing amount of choice in the range, with no less than 38 variants, thanks to what Jaguar calls its 'Ultimate Customer Choice', which allows you to build any kind of E-Pace you fancy.
In Australia, the company says it will be competing aggressively in the $50,000-$70,000 price range and pin points its $62,430, D180 SE model as where its volume, and its conquest sales, will come from.
Early adopters, though, might be tempted by the First Edition, which will only be available for the first model year and comes with all sorts of temping goodies at a price of $80,952 for the D180 or $84,370 for the P250 version.
The First Edition gets spiffy 'Caldera Red' paint, 20-inch 'Satin Grey Diamond Turned' finish alloy wheels, a 'Black Pack' exterior and the fixed panoramic roof, which really does improved the interior ambiance.
Inside you get special mats, branded tread plates, 'Ebony Windsor' leather and a head-up display (which really should be standard across the range, for safety’s sake, but is largely optional).
Other gimmicks include configurable ambient interior lighting, extra power sockets, the sexy 'Jaguar Activity Key' and the gesture tailgate. Overall, this does look like strikingly good value, if you’re willing to spend that much on a small SUV (it's more than 300mm shorter than an F-Pace, at 4411mm long).
In terms of standard features across all models, the list is reasonable, with classy-looking 17-inch wheels, LED lights, space saver steel spare wheel, air vents for the back seats (an absolute must for those with kids), eight-way adjustable seats, which are cloth at the bottom end, 'All Surface Progress Control' - which sounds Land Rover-like but doesn’t mean you can climb boulders - push-button start, a 10-inch 'Touch Pro' screen, which is lovely but does not offer Apple CarPlay, even as an option, and plenty of safety kit, including lane-keep assist, 'Driver Condition Monitor', Front and Rear Parking Aid and Emergency Brake Assist.
The base E-Pace, with no bling spec at all, starts at $47,750 for the showroom-bait D150 diesel, and rises to $50,150 for the D180 (you get an extra 22kW, up to just 132kW) or the same price for the P250 petrol (with 174kW).
Step up to S spec - which includes 18-inch wheels, approach lights on your door mirrors, leather seats, and 'Navigation Pro' and 'Park Assist', plus a Wi-Fi hot spot - and prices range from $55,200 for the D150 through $57,600 for the D180, $64,020 for the D240 (yet another version of the diesel) and then $57,600 for the P250 and finally the same $64,020 pricing sweet spot will get you an S spec P300, the full-fat petrol model with 221kW.
The SE - stepping up to 19-inch wheels, a powered tailgate, 14-way adjustable seats rather than just 10-way and a Meridian sound system and Adaptive Cruise Control - ranges from $60,020 to $70,265 across the same models, while the (almost) top-line HSE (with lashings of leather and colourful stitching, plus 20-inch wheels and a 12.3-inch Driver Display) starts at $65,590 for the D150 (and honestly, who’s going to go for the top spec with the least-wondrous engine, honestly?) up to $77,493 for the P300.
The final choice, for extra icing on your icing, comes with the R-Dynamic pack, which you can add to your base model, or your S, SE or HSE, for around $4500 a throw, offering a range of $52,550 to $83,733.
In proper European gouge style, there are plenty of options as well, including heated and cooled seats that can cost up to $1870, and leather packages that can cost north of $8000, red brake callipers for $660 and a whopping $430 for a DAB radio, or the panoramic roof for $2160. Even keyless entry can set you back $950.
Not offering CarPlay is a mysterious and annoying omission in a brand-new model, but overall there is value to be found in the range, or you can spend yourself silly if you still want to pay $100K plus for your Jaag, but you want a small SUV.
Engine & trans
The result is a zero to 100km/h sprint time of just 4.8 seconds – making the SQ7 the world's quickest seven-seat diesel-powered SUV, according to Audi.
Audi has also fitted a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to the SQ7's powertrain, which feeds an electric-powered compressor to spool up a turbo quicker for better off-the-line acceleration.
Power and torque figures remain unchanged from the preceding SQ7, but the large Audi SUV has the distinction of being one of the only performance diesels in the segment.
Though power is a little lacking compared to its petrol-powered competitions, the SQ7 has the highest torque output of any large SUV available in Australia, matched only by the electrified Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.
The SQ7 has a 3500kg braked towing capacity.
Truly, it is amazing what feats the modern 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is capable of, and the more expensive choices out of the E-Pace’s five offerings really do perform wonders, particularly considering the weight they have to haul.
There’s slightly less excitement at the bottom end, though, as you’d expect, with the 2.0-litre Ingenium D150 diesel making 110kW at 3500rpm and 380Nm at 1750rpm, and taking a leisurely 10-seconds plus to accelerate from 0-100km/h.
The D180 gets 132kW at 4000rpm, and 420Nm at 1750rpm, and runs 0-100km/h in a still sluggish 9.3 seconds.
The two 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol turbo units offer 183kW at 5500rpm and 365Nm for the basic P250, or 221kW at 5500rpm and 400Nm, available between 1500 and 4500rpm, for the top-spec P300, the fastest thing in the range at just 6.4 seconds 0-100km/h.
All E-Paces are fitted with a slick-shifting nine-speed automatic, which makes changing gears manually annoying. Only the R-Dynamic offers shift paddles.
Official fuel consumption figures are pegged at 7.8 litres per 100km in the SQ7, but we managed 11.5L/100km in our brief time with the car.
Tipping the scales at 2460kg, the SQ7 is surprising frugal for a large performance seven-seat SUV, likely due to a combination of its diesel engine and mild-hybrid set-up.
Between speeds of 55 and 160km/h, the 48-volt system can coast the SQ7 for up to 40 seconds, switching off the engine and conserving fuel.
Audi claims the system can save up to 0.5L/100km on fuel.
Obviously, running such small engines is a move aimed at fuel economy, so you’d expect the figures to be good, but imagine if the E-Pace was some 400kg lighter, like an Audi Q3 is, how much better the figures could have been.
Still, a claimed 5.6 litres per 100km for the two base diesels, and 7.7 for the perkier and petrol powered P250 is pretty good going. The top diesel D240 can give you 6.2L/100km and you’d still be pretty happy with an 8.0L/100km return from the P300, if you ever managed such a figure, which we seriously doubt.
We averaged closer to double figures in all the variants we drove (albeit enthusiastically).
The CO2 outputs range from 147g/km for the bottom two diesels, stepping up to 162g/km for the D240 and 174 and 181g/km respectively for the two petrols.
Performance large luxury seven-seat SUV might seem a bit contradictory, but Audi has managed to pull this feat off with astounding success.
The SQ7 drives fantastically well, both around town in its most comfortable settings and out in the twisties with the settings dialled all the way up.
This dual personality is largely thanks to its adaptive air suspension, which does a wonderful job at absorbing road imperfections in comfort, and giving the driver just the right amount of feedback in dynamic.
New to the 2020 SQ7 is also the standard inclusion of rear-wheel steering, which can turn the rear wheels up to five degrees at low speeds for improved manoeuvrability, and up to two degrees at high speed for better stability.
We've tested cars with rear-wheel steering before and weren't fans of its implementation due to the unnatural feel, but the SQ7 offers plenty of feedback from the steering wheel and chassis in the corners – or as much as a large SUV can communicate.
At low speeds the system comes in most handy, as the turning circle is cut to just 12.4 metres, making the SQ7 more agile in a parking lot than the much smaller Q3 crossover.
However, there is no getting around the SQ7's hefty 2460kg weight and higher ride height, which means it can be a little slow to change directions in quick corners, and will tend towards understeer when pushed.
Grip is plentiful thanks to the quattro all-wheel-drive system and thick 285/35 tyres all round, though buyers can also opt for a $10,900 Dynamic Package that throws in active roll stabilisation and a sports differential.
We sampled the Dynamic Package in the platform-sharing SQ8, and while the active roll stabilisation is fantastic at keeping occupants from being jerked around in the corners, we reckon it's not needed in the more family-friendly SQ7.
Bringing such a sizeable SUV to a stop are equally sizeable 400/350mm front/rear brake discs, with six-piston callipers up front.
The brakes work very well at scrubbing speed from this large 2.5-tonne SUV, but buyers can opt for ceramic brakes that add a substantial $19,000 to the pricetag.
The good news is there’s plenty of genuine Jaguar in the way the car feels to drive, up to a point.
Through long sweeping bends of the medium to high-speed variety, it is great, fluid fun, with minimal body roll, and properly involving, muscular steering.
You can actually feel you’re in a car that’s related to the hugely enjoyable and tough-feeling F-Type. Turn-in is crisp and involving and the front-end set-up feels as sporty as Jaguar people enthusiastically suggest it will be.
And then you arrive, quite quickly, at a 35km/h-marked corner, throw it in and remember that you’re not sitting with your bum anywhere near the ground, and you are piloting a top-heavy machine that weighs nearly two tonnes.
At this point you will get a mild scare, but even then the Jaguar doesn't really misbehave, it simply puts you back in your box and reminds you that a sports car, this is not.
The E-Pace really is a surprisingly heavy vehicle, though, and while that weight can feel like solidity and premium quality while you’re cruising along, it does dull the driving experience on a twisty road.
With diesel-engined cars weighing “from” 1936kg and petrol-engined versions just slightly less, the E-Pace not only weighs in significantly heavier than competitors like Audi’s Q3 or BMW’s X2, it’s actually heavier than its big brother, the F-Pace, despite being a lot smaller (4731 mm vs 4411mm overall length).
The reason is that, while the F-Pace is made of expensive aluminium, the smaller Jag is built on a more steel-heavy platform, a revised version of the architecture Range Rover’s Evoque sits on.
Jaguar says the E-Pace platform is all-new from the firewall forward, so it can have more Jag-like handling, but the decision to share an older design rather than giving it new, lightweight underpinnings of its own is yet another case of saving on cost to get the price tag down.
As sporty as the performance of the up-spec engines is, it’s interesting to wonder just how much better this car might be if it was shaved of 200kg or even 400kg, of weight.
The fact is the E-Pace is not really about being sporty, it’s about stretching the Jag brand as far as possible. If it feels and looks like a Jaguar, and a lot more people can afford one, then genuine sportiness really won’t matter.
For all that, Jag has genuinely managed to engineer in enough Jaguar DNA, particularly in the steering department, to please customers.
On the downside, the ride is unfortunately jiggly and jarring on our rough and broken Aussie roads, particularly if you spec the larger and more attractive 19-, 20- or 21-inch wheels rather than the more sensible standard 17s. And there is quite a bit of tyre roar on coarse-chip surfaces.
The top-spec diesel is meaty and pleasant to use and manages to sound enthusiastic under strain, only becoming slightly clattery at low throttle openings in traffic.
The only time you really notice it’s an oil-burner, however, is when the start-stop system kicks the engine back into life with a cough and a splutter.
Slip down the diesel engine range, however, and the weight-versus-performance equation becomes more noticeable. The base diesel is a bit of a slug, with a 0-100km/h time on the wrong side of 10 seconds, and seems to pause and take a deep breath each time you apply the throttle, or at the base of a hill. Those using the E-Pace for the school run probably won’t mind.
The top-spec petrol engine is, not surprisingly, the pick of the bunch; willing to rev and genuinely quite remarkable when you consider that it is merely a four-cylinder 2.0-litre unit that’s being asked to haul around more than two tonnes of machine and human.
It’s fair to say that, being the hardest working four-cylinders in show business, they sound like they’re straining at high revs rather than having a good time.
It should also be noted that there is absolutely none of the traditional Jaguar growling or howling to be found in the E-Pace.
Audi's latest SQ7 has not been tested by ANCAP, but it was awarded a maximum five-star rating by Euro NCAP after a Q7 50 TDI was examined in 2019.
It scored 92 and 86 per cent respectively in the adult occupant and child occupant protection tests, while for the vulnerable road users and safety assist categories, it notched 71 and 72 per cent.
Standard safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, eight airbags, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, surround-view monitor and exit-warning system to stop dooring cyclists.
According to Euro NCAP testing, the SQ7's AEB system works from 10km/h.
Of note though, the SQ7 lacks traffic-sign recognition, but does display speed-limit information based on GPS data.
It seems fair to give extra points to a car that cares about pedestrians, particularly after the autonomous Uber accident, so hats off to the E-Pace for its class-leading pedestrian airbag system, which pops out of the trailing edge of the bonnet to protect slow-moving humans.
Jaguar also combines its blind-spot monitor and its lane-keep assist to come up with something called 'Blind Spot Assist', which will help to prevent you from sideswiping motorcyclists, using flashing lights and corrective steering. Handy. Sadly it's not standard, but it can be had as part of a $1020 'Drive Pack'.
The E-Pace is yet to be crash tested by local authorities, but offers an “optimised body structure” to help it “exceed all safety standards worldwide”.
Six airbags are standard, and there are two ISOFIX points.
As with all new Audi's the SQ7 comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with three years of roadside assist.
Service intervals for the SQ7 are set at 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.
Audi also offers a three- or five-year service plan with the purchase of an SQ7, priced at $2870 and $3910 respectively.