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Jaguar E-Pace SE D240 2018 review

The styling of the E-Pace has really upped the ante for cars in this category.

Premium compact SUVs are like the Swiss Army Knives of family cars; small, practical and loaded with useful features. Not exactly what you’d call sexy though, are they?

Well, they are now. Enter the E-Pace, Jaguar’s new entrant into the compact SUV category. In the company of such luminaries as the Volvo XC40, BMW X2 and Audi Q3, this car needed to bring something special. And if my E-Pace weekend test car is anything to go by, it's off to a good start. 

There are a dizzying array of E-Pace variants to be had, and a huge list of options available to customise your car with. For my weekend test, I’m driving the E-Pace SE spec with the D240 engine (priced from $68,850) which includes a powered tailgate, a Meridian sound system and adaptive cruise control as standard.

But with four kids to taxi around for the weekend, the E-Pace will have to offer more than just good looks.

Saturday

The schedule today was the usual (too early) morning soccer, followed by a picnic and general errands in the afternoon.

The styling of the E-Pace has really upped the ante for cars in this category, with Jaguar doing an exceptional job of translating its signature sleek and sporty design into this stout, high-riding SUV. No small feat to accomplish, sure, but it has really enhanced the E-Pace's desirability and given it an advantage over its competitors in the process.

  • The styling of the E-Pace has really upped the ante for cars in this category. The styling of the E-Pace has really upped the ante for cars in this category.
  • Styling cues from its older F-Pace sibling, and even the performance-focused F-Type, are evident. Styling cues from its older F-Pace sibling, and even the performance-focused F-Type, are evident.

Styling cues from its older F-Pace sibling, and even the performance-focused F-Type, are evident from tip to tail of this car. Instantly familiar features start up front with the J-blade daytime running lights and the Jaguar grille featuring a large growling logo, which lend it a genuinely sporty look.

The side profile is highlighted by the 20-inch alloys (a $1690 option), which do an ample job of filling the wheel arches and further reinforcing its sporty credentials. The roofline and rear windows taper nicely towards the rear end, which features twin tailpipes and new LED tail-lights.

The kids and I were keen to check out the cabin and, decorated in plush 'Light Oyster Windsor' leather, it presents a premium look. On the flip side, I can’t help but wonder how well this fancy white leather will fare after a weekend with four kids.

  • The E-Pace's cabin was an incredibly pleasant place to be, with its panoramic sunroof providing plenty of light and a feeling of space. The E-Pace's cabin was an incredibly pleasant place to be, with its panoramic sunroof providing plenty of light and a feeling of space.
  • Three kids along the back was cosy but not uncomfortable, with plenty of legroom. Three kids along the back was cosy but not uncomfortable, with plenty of legroom.

First impressions inside are positive from all of us. There is plenty of room in the back for the three kids and an overwhelming sense of luxury up front. Closer inspection revealed some cheaper touches dotted around the cabin (the plastic used around the base of the gear shift, for example), which detract from an otherwise refined cabin.

Before heading off I had to first fit the car seat (three tether points available plus two ISOFIX points) to accommodate our additional little one. Three kids along the back was cosy but not uncomfortable, with plenty of legroom. They made good use of the bottle holders (both doors) and air vents available.

Sitting behind my driving position (I’m 180cm), there was a decent amount of head and leg room with a full hand-width of space between my knees and the seat in front. That said, I would avoid sandwiching three grown-ups in there.

First destination was the twins' soccer match, with an expected 45min drive battling the usual Saturday morning traffic mayhem. Mercifully, the E-Pace's cabin was an incredibly pleasant place to be, with its panoramic sunroof (a favourite feature and a $2160 option) providing plenty of light and a feeling of space. The cabin did a good job of buffering the road and traffic noise with the sound of the diesel engine kept to a low hum.

The Jaguar E-Pace features a responsive steering feel that makes for a surprisingly engaging and fun drive. The Jaguar E-Pace features a responsive steering feel that makes for a surprisingly engaging and fun drive.

My son up front synced up the smartphone with the large and easy to use 10-inch touchscreen and had our playlist pumping through the Meridian sound system in quick time. Cabin storage is well catered for, with a good-sized centre console bin, hidden hole located in front of the gear lever (handy for the phone), and two cup holders up front plus two in the rear and large storage pockets in all the doors.

Around the 'burbs in comfort mode, the E-Pace was relaxing and composed, with a decent amount of acceleration to propel the five of us around the back streets. The E-Pace’s modest proportions combined with decent reversing camera and parking sensors allowed for easy parking, too.

Sunday

Thanks to the wet weather the E-Pace was on light family hauling duties today, with the morning giving the chance to take the E-Pace for a little drive on the open road.

Under the hood, the E-Pace D240 houses the most powerful of the diesel engines available, with a punchy twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder plant that makes 177kW at 4000 rpm and 500Nm at 1500rpm. Matched with a slick-shifting nine-speed automatic, its low-down grunt can power all four wheels to a 0-100km/h time of 7.4 seconds.

The E-Pace D240 features a punchy twin-turbocharged diesel that makes 177kW at 4000 rpm and 500Nm at 1500rpm. The E-Pace D240 features a punchy twin-turbocharged diesel that makes 177kW at 4000 rpm and 500Nm at 1500rpm.

In its D240 guise, the E-Pace certainly lives up to its namesake. From a standing start it manages to get the power down smartly, allowing for a swift getaway, while acceleration at mid-range speeds is enough to get around slower traffic with little fuss. There’s not a lot of theatre with this car, but then again, it is an SUV.

Its confidence and capability around the back streets are matched with sharp handling on the twisty open roads. The head-up display provides key driving info at a glance, although on our test car I noted a slight distortion from what appeared to be ripples in the windscreen.

The Jaguar performance story is further reinforced with a responsive steering feel that makes for a surprisingly engaging and fun drive. The car’s weight is noticeable on some of the sharper bends, though, providing a gentle reminder that this is an SUV and not a performance car.

  • The E-Pace features a 484 litre boot. The E-Pace features a 484 litre boot.
  • We loaded up the car with gear and set off for some afternoon indoor rock climbing. We loaded up the car with gear and set off for some afternoon indoor rock climbing.
  • All E-Types come with a space saver spare wheel. All E-Types come with a space saver spare wheel.

Back home, I loaded up the car with kids in the cabin and gear in the 484 litre boot and set off for some afternoon indoor rock climbing.

The safety story for the E-Pace is strong, and features six airbags plus an external airbag that pops up from under the bonnet in the event of a pedestrian collision. Other standard items include AEB, lane-keep assist, a driver condition monitor that detects driver drowsiness, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot assist. It’s yet to be crash tested by ANCAP.

Over the course of the weekend we covered around 350km of urban and open-road driving, with the trip computer displaying a fuel consumption figure of 8.0 litres/100km. Slightly higher than Jaguar’s claimed 6.2L/100km, then.


The Wrap

The E-Pace SE D240 passed the family test easily with its space, comfort and Jaguar-like handling and performance. With styling that commands attention, it has desirability in spades - which should prove a major drawcard with SUV buyers looking for something that ticks both the fun and practicality boxes.

Likes

Good looks
Punchy engine
Practicality

Dislikes

No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
Some cheap cabin touches

Scores

Dan:

3.9

The Kids:

$62,150 - $71,390

Based on third party pricing data

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