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Buying a Jaguar is complicated, but in a satisfying way. As you're finding out, or perhaps you know already, once you've picked the model you want, you then need to pick the grade and then the engine, and then the options.
The E-Pace S P300 sits just above that base-spec car, which is what the 'S' means, but the P300 engine is the most powerful petrol powerplant you can ask them to put under the bonnet.
So, could this combination of an almost entry-level E-Pace with the top-of-the-range engine make it the smartest choice possible?
|Jaguar E-PACE 2018: P300 S AWD (221kW)|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
There are some things you just need to do in life; one is brushing your teeth, and another is bowing down and praising the brilliance of Jaguar's director of design, Ian Callum. Every car (or SUV) the bloke draws is beautifully proportioned and appears fast even while parked, and the E-Pace is no exception.
The E-Pace looks exactly how a small Jaguar SUV should, with the rounded headlights and blade-like taillights of the F-Type, the large upright and gaping honeycomb grille of the XF and XE, and the beefy rear haunches and stubby rear end that they all share.
The E-Pace has more than a passing resemblance to its F-Pace sibling, and without seeing them side by side it's easy to think they're close in size, too. The dimensions show that while the E-Pace is only 10mm narrower, at 1.9m across, and just 18mm shorter in height, its length end-to-end is 0.6m less than the F-Pace, at 4.1m.
Our test car was the S grade, which is a step above the entry grade E-Pace and that adds 18-inch nine-spoke alloy wheels. The wheels you can see in the images are 20-inch style 5051, which are optional (prices below) but they look stealthy cool in that gloss-black finish and are damned easy to keep clean – which is code for 'they hide dirt well'.
Apart from the wheels there are no other differences to the exteriors of the E-Pace and E-Pace S – both have satin-chrome side vents and satin-black window surrounds and twin chrome tail pipes integrated into the rear bumper.
The S's standard ebony leather seats instantly give the cabin a premium edge over the entry E-Pace's cloth ones. Again, you'll see from my images that our E-pace S had the optional Siena Tan Windsor leather with a quilted pattern – which made some people gag and others, including me, swoon.
Almost every car comes with black leather now, which makes this Siena style feel that bit more special and, while it's a light colour, it's blue-jeans proof, which most white leather certainly isn't.
The rest of the S's interior is the same as the base E-Pace. Sure, there's quite a bit of plastic on the dash and doors, but this is still a stylish and cleanly designed cockpit, with touch of ruggedness, thanks to those chunky climate-control dials, the metal plate surround on the shifter and the centre console grab handle.
The only downside to the design of the E-Pace is something you can't see – the platform of the car.
The E-Pace uses the Evoque's heavy-steel platform as opposed to the F-Pace's lighter weight one, which makes use of a stack of aluminium.
Yes, the E-Pace's bonnet wheel guards, roof and tailgate are made of aluminium, but the petrol four-cylinder version weighs 1.9 tonnes – about 100kg more than the (larger) F-Pace.
There are two 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engines on offer for the E-Pace and ours was the more powerful one (denoted by the P300 badge on the tailgate), making 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque. All E-Paces sold in Australia are all-wheel drive.
The transmission is a nine-speed automatic and while it's a smooth shifter it's also a little slow at times, unless you've selected the Sport setting, which will give you harder and faster changes.
It's difficult to find a fault with how this engine performs. Acceleration is good, with 0-100km/h nailed in 6.4 seconds, according to Jaguar, and it feels every bit as quick as that number suggests.
If only the E-Pace was lighter, because while the P300 has no trouble hauling the SUV with haste, the price you'll pay is in fuel usage. Yup, read on below to see just how thirsty this sucker is.
Jaguar says the E-Pace with the P300 2.0-litre four-cylinder should use 8.0L/100km after a combination of urban and open roads. I clocked up about 300km in motorways and city driving and the trip meter was reporting an average of 12.9L/100km.
That's a big appetite for a four-cylinder, but it is having to work hard to carry the small but hefty E-Pace around. This thirst could be the biggest weakness of the E-Pace S P300. There is also another very likely reason for the high fuel usage, which I'll tell you below.
Another reason for the high fuel usage is me. I totally have a thing for this P300 engine; a four-cylinder with this output would be completely at home in a hot hatch like a Volkswagen Golf R, and that's how I drove it a lot of the time.
The thing is, the E-Pace weighs about 300kg more than the Golf and me giving it a good squirt at every opportunity did nothing to help conserve fuel.
Driving the E-Pace S P300 was still a stack of fun, because while it's heavier than it should be it has decent shove, direct and accurate steering, and pulls up well. Handling suffers a little from the weight, but you'll only notice it on more challenging, twisty roads.
The E-Pace uses the same platform as the Land Rover Evoque, but Jaguar's engineers stiffened the suspension to give the car better handling. While the E-Pace was comfortable over larger dips and speed bumps, I felt that on patchy, poor surfaces the ride tended to be busy.
Forward visibility is excellent, but seeing anything through that small back window is difficult, although a great rear-view camera solves that issue when reversing.
The E-Pace S P300 lists for $64,020, which is $6500 more than the S, with the lower-powered P250 four-cylinder engine with the same standard features. These include LED headlights and DRLs, a 10-inch touch screen with 360 view camera, sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity and a decent amount of advanced safety equipment, which you can read all about below.
Is it good value? Well you can have all these features on the E-Pace S D150 for about $55,000, and even the plain-flavoured entry E-Pace D150 has most of them, too.
So, it's really the engine you're paying extra for – and to me it's worth it.
Jaguar lets you go a bit box-ticking crazy. Options on our car included the Siena Tan Windsor leather, which is beautiful but pricey at $4,490; the fixed glass roof for $2160; the clear head-up display for $1630; metallic paint in Yulong White for $1370; Meridian stereo for $1270; keyless entry for $950; a $900 powered tailgate; the $890 Black exterior pack; $820 illuminated tread plates; $690 tinted glass; and the roof rails will set you back $740.
The "Grace, Space and Pace" slogan of Jaguar from the mid-20th century doesn't really fit the company's smallest SUV.
Room in the second row is tight and at 191cm tall I can only just sit behind my driving position with a finger's width of space. Headroom is also fine but only just, thanks to that sloping roof line.
Storage is surprisingly good, with a large and deep centre console bin housing two USB ports and a 12V outlet. There are giant pockets and bottle holders in the front doors and smaller ones in the rear, along with two cupholders up front and another two in the back.
The boot has a cargo capacity of 484 litres, which isn't the biggest for the segment but isn't small either.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Of course, there's also ABS, plus traction and stability control, too.
For child and baby seats you'll find two ISOFIX and two top-tether anchor points across the rear row.
A space-saver spare lives under the boot floor.
The E-Pace is covered by Jaguar's three-year/100,000km warranty. Services are recommended every two years or every 34,000km. A $1500 servicing plan is available, too.
The styling of the E-Pace S P300 is so well executed that even old-school, die-hard Jaguar fans could be tempted into a small SUV. Is this the smartest combination of grade and engine? Well, that P300 engine suits the dimensions and attitude of the car perfectly, and there are plenty of standard features. But what strikes it off the list as the smartest choice is its fuel usage – the E-Pace is heavy, which means a diesel engine may be the wiser choice.
|AWD (110kW)||2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO||$40,480 – 47,630||2018 Jaguar E-PACE 2018 AWD (110kW) Pricing and Specs|
|D150 AWD (110kW)||2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO||$40,480 – 47,630||2018 Jaguar E-PACE 2018 D150 AWD (110kW) Pricing and Specs|
|D150 HSE AWD (110kW)||2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO||$56,980 – 65,450||2018 Jaguar E-PACE 2018 D150 HSE AWD (110kW) Pricing and Specs|
|D150 R-DYNAMIC AWD (110kW)||2.0L, Diesel, 9 SP AUTO||$44,990 – 52,360||2018 Jaguar E-PACE 2018 D150 R-DYNAMIC AWD (110kW) Pricing and Specs|
|Engine & trans||8|
|Price and features||7|