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Jaguar E-Pace


Audi Q7

Summary

Jaguar E-Pace

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.

Jaguar claims the E-Pace is “the coolest SUV” reasonable money can buy, and with prices starting under $48,000, this really is a Jag for the workers, rather than the bosses.

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.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency5.6L/100km
Seating5 seats

Audi Q7

Audi’s big banger Q7 relaunched late last year with a slimmer-hipped, lower slung replacement for the old bruiser.

Interestingly there was just the single variant, a 200kW diesel turbo V6 with a six-figure starting price. A few months down the track we’ve finally scored a lower-powered, entry-level Q7.

There are a few bits missing that are standard on the more highly powered version, so with a relatively narrow price difference, is it a good fit for options-box tickers?

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency5.9L/100km
Seating7 seats

Verdict

Jaguar E-Pace7.9/10

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.


Audi Q77.4/10

The 200kW Q7 is a brilliant car and the 160kW is little different. It’s hard to make the economic case for spending less, though, as options will quickly land you in 200kW price territory unless, of course, you’ve stretched yourself for the $96,300 in the first place.

If you have stretched, you’re getting an even better overall car than the excellent BMW X5. The fundamentals of the Q7 are such that you could almost whack the 2.0 TFSI from the A3 in it and it would still be just fine.

Does the Audi Q7's new styling sway you or is the options list too pricey? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Audi Q7 pricing and spec info.

Design

Jaguar E-Pace8/10

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.


Audi Q78/10

The new Q7 is, thankfully, a lot less imposing than the first generation. That car really did loom and as time went by it became ever more covered in bling. The restraint of the new car is admirable (and good business sense – there’s bound to be a bigger Q8 before long) and looks more like a jacked-up wagon than a full-on SUV.

As is Audi’s wont, there’s lots of aluminium, particularly in the MQB Evo chassis itself (shared with some pretty posh things like the Bentley Bentayga) as well as doors and bonnet.

Despite being smaller, there are still seven seats in the Q7, with a reasonably accessible pair of rear pews providing you’re at least four years old and in possession of two working legs. That third row gets its own air-conditioning vents, cupholders (there are six in total) and somewhere to store your ration of Smarties.

The middle row of seats can be slid fore and aft through about 15cm to liberate or rob the third row of space. The middle rear seat passenger does have to contend with a fairly solid transmission tunnel, however.

Storage is well scattered around the cabin, with four bottle holders, a shallow bin under the centre armrest and a few cubby holes here and there to supplement the good-sized glove box. Audi says the minimum boot volume is 770L with the third row of seats down and 1955 with both rows folded away. With the third row up, an educated guess says somewhere in the region of 300L is still available. There's also ISOFIX child seat mounts for all five rear seats.

The driver gets a clean, clear dashboard with two big dials flanking the central info screen and, as usual, everything is spot-on ergonomically. The dash is considerably less visually weighty than the old car, with full width air-con vents, the middle section blowing diffuse air so you’re not in a windtunnel from a 1980s music video clip.

Practicality

Jaguar E-Pace8/10

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

Jaguar E-Pace8/10

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.

Spec levels range through S, SE, HSE and R-Dynamic, and you can have each of those with your choice of five different engines, three diesels and two petrols - the D150, D180 D240, P250 and P300.

All E-Paces sold in Australia are fitted with all-wheel drive, despite European models offering a front-drive only option.

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.


Audi Q77/10

With a price just a few thousand down on the original 200kW version, it almost seems like Audi doesn’t really want you to buy the base model. The price difference is “only” $7600. Remember that bit.

Despite the lower sticker, there is a generous equipment list, particularly on the safety front. Standard are a 10-speaker stereo with DAB+, Bluetooth and dual USB ports, 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, blind spot sensor, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors and park assist, cruise control, electric front seats with driver’s seat memory, satnav, bi-xenon headlights with level adjustment, auto headlights and wipers, leather trim (some real, some not), electric tailgate and tyre-pressure monitoring.

Our car had the optional Audi Connect wifi hotspot feature ($750), metallic paint (at a hefty $2400), Assistance Package - which adds adaptive cruise, active lane assist, pre-sense front, traffic jam assist, collision assist and turn assist ($4075), LED headlights ($2800!), Parking Assistance Package, which adds auto-parking and 360-degree cameras ($1300), full body paint finish ($1300) and interior inlays of high gloss black and oak (an even more mystifying $1690). This brought the total to an eye-watering $110,615.

That’s only $5000 less than a similarly optioned 200kW, which has a few more standard additions, more power obviously, bigger wheels and the full digital “virtual dashboard” from the lovely TT. Of course, neither Q7 is particularly cheap. If you’re willing to lose all-wheel drive, you can have a BMW X5 starting at $86,200 for the rear-wheel drive 170kW 2.0 diesel (but only with five seats).

Audi’s MMI system controls the operation of the retractable 8.3-inch screen that rises majestically from the centre of the dash. MMI looks after the entertainment, satnav and various settings of the car and does a fine job of it, supplemented by a generous touchpad for you to write out your destination with your finger, or choose your radio station.

You can also speak in reasonably normal terms to the nav via voice activation and it will take you to the nearest public toilet, or a petrol station or a nearby Italian restaurant.

Engine & trans

Jaguar E-Pace8/10

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 D240 makes 177kW at 4000 rpm and 500Nm at 1500rpm, and is far more fun, with a 0-100km/h time of 7.4 seconds, and plenty of grunt down low.

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.


Audi Q77/10

The 160kW is the same basic unit as the 200kW, just with the lower power figure and 500Nm of torque (down from 600Nm) to push its 2135kg frame to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds.

Fuel economy, courtesy of the ZF eight speed automatic and stop-start, is a claimed 5.8L/100km and, it must be said, a fairly unlikely figure to achieve. We saw 9.2L/100km on the dash display, which is still pretty impressive for such a large vehicle.

The Q7 is also rated to tow 3500kg with trailer brakes.

Fuel consumption

Jaguar E-Pace8/10

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.


Driving

Jaguar E-Pace8/10

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 Q78/10

It might be down 40kW and 100Nm of torque, but the Q7 still feels pretty nimble for what is a very heavy car, despite its average weight loss of 325kg. The mid-range is very strong, meaning effortless overtaking from rarely more than a toe on the throttle pedal. When your car is this big, the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether it will trip over itself when you’re in the cut and thrust of the school pick up or daily commute.

This is the first Q7 I’ve driven without the air suspension and it was a pleasant surprise. It rode and handled almost as well and you’d have to wonder whether it’s worth the extra outlay. When a press fleet has nothing but air-suspended cars, it makes journalists suspicious; I’m pleased to say there was no need. The only real difference is more noticeable body roll when you’re getting a bit ambitious in the corners. Not really a Q7’s core business.

The steering is quite light but weights up nicely in dynamic mode. It’s tidy in the bends and excels in the wet or dry; its stay with us coincided with some truly apocalyptic rain, which the car simply shrugged off. Needless to say, the cabin is extremely quiet, with just a slight rustle around the wing mirrors and a distant growl from the engine.

Safety

Jaguar E-Pace8/10

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.

In active-safety terms, the E-Pace has Emergency Braking tech, with pedestrian detection, which will first prime the brakes after identifying danger, and then activate them if you don’t.


Audi Q77/10

Eight airbags, blind-spot sensor, forward-collision mitigation, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and active safety bonnet all add up to the maximum five ANCAP safety stars.

The Assistance Package, which adds adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, pre-sense front (to keep you from crashing into the car in front), collision assist (helps you out with your braking and steering when the car thinks you’re heading into a crash) and turn assist (stops you turning into the path of an oncoming car).

Ownership

Jaguar E-Pace7/10

Jaguar's new E-Pace comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which is okay, but not quite the full Kia seven-year deal. It does however, include paint and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.

A servicing plan is available at a cost of $1500 for five years. Service intervals are 12 months/26,000km for diesel engines or 24 months/34,000km for petrol models.