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Lexus RX


Jaguar E-Pace

Summary

Lexus RX

The Lexus RX is a big seller for the Japanese brand - in fact, it’s the most popular model in the range in Australia, accounting for more than one-in-four new Lexus models sold, and its the third most popular luxury SUV in Australia, too. 

So when an updated version of the RX arrives, you can expect there to be some innovations worthy of attention. That’s certainly the case for the 2020 Lexus RX.

You might be able to pick the facelifted model by its styling changes, but only if you’re a trainspotter - the luxury large SUV hasn’t changed a whole lot since in launched in Australia in 2015.

Read on to find out what has changed, and whether the updated RX argues a strong case against its high-end, high-riding rivals.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypePetrol
Fuel Efficiency8.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

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

Verdict

Lexus RX7.6/10

The updated Lexus RX 2020 model brings some attractive additions and offers a number of compelling arguments against the German rivals it chiefly competes against.

The hybrid versions are truly efficient and impressive, but it’s the entry-level RX 300 Luxury that stands out as the potential value winner of this range. 

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.


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.

Design

Lexus RX7/10

While a number of luxury SUVs play it relatively safe when it comes to styling, the Lexus RX plays from a different angle in the segment. Angles. Yes, there are plenty. 

The styling changes are subtle unless your eye is tuned to the finer details. Things like the different shaped inlays for the spindle grille, the slightly reshaped bumper bar with integrated cornering lights, the new headlight internals… but at a glance, it looks pretty similar to before, albeit a little broader looking due to the horizontal emphasis on the front-end design.

How does that translate to interior dimensions? The interior photos should give you an idea, but there’s been a bit of work done for the three-row models to improve the back seat space.

The rear has seen small changes too, with L-shape tail-light inlays, and revised lower bumper design to again broaden the look of the car.

There’s not much to tell the difference in profile, other than new wheel designs (18s on the entry car, 20s on the high grade versions). The profile gives away the difference in dimensions when you compare the five- and seven-seat models. The five-seater is 4890mm long, while the L model is 5000mm from tip to tail. Both models size up at 1895mm wide, and the five-seater is 1690mm tall - the same height as the 350 L model. The 450h is 1685mm tall, and the L models are 1700mm high.

One thing is for sure - the smaller RX model pulls off its sharp-edged sheetmetal look a bit better than the L versions. But what about interior dimensions? The interior photos should give you an idea, but there’s been a bit of work done for the three-row models to improve the back seat space.


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.

Practicality

Lexus RX8/10

The biggest news here is that the media unit is now a 12.3-inch touchscreen. Rejoice! You don’t need to use the horrible trackpad controller anymore… but you can if you want to. It has capability for both. And it now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is also new to Lexus

Of course it works a lot easier than the old one, plus there are four additional USB ports added to the cabin for all variants - making a total of six! - and all models also get paddle shifters on the steering wheel now, too.

Other elements of the cabin are pretty untouched - there are still plenty of buttons below the screen, plus decent storage consisting of cup holders between the front seats (and in a fold-down arm rest in the rear), plus there are cup holders in the third row for those models, too. There are bottle holders in the doors, and a few loose item storage bins (including a wireless phone charger in front of the shifter).

The seats are very comfortable (more so in the Luxury and Sports Luxury versions - the F Sport has firmer seats that aren’t as cushy) and offer good adjustment for taller occupants. The electric steering column adjustment is a nice touch, too. 

Rear seat space is fine for adults and good for little ones. There’s decent headroom in models without the panoramic roof (the big glass ceiling does eat into space a bit), while knee-room is good across the board. Toe room is tight. 

The second row can be slid fore and aft to improve space in the boot, or allow more space for those in the third row (if equipped). The rearmost seats now have a bit of adjustment as well, though still are best considered bonus seats for kids. 

The luggage capacity varies depending on the model. The five-seat versions of the RX have a claimed storage space of 506 litres to the top of the back seat (or 453 litres to the cargo blind, as previously stated), while the seven seat model has 176 litres behind the third row seats, and 591L when the rearmost seats are folded down. You might want to consider a roof rack system for the roof rails if that boot space isn’t big enough.

The storage space includes a cargo cover (or retractable tonneau cover), and you can option a liner if you so choose. 


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

Lexus RX8/10

How much does the Lexus RX cost? Well, that varies depending on the model in the range, as there’s an extensive price list to consider, here.

There are three grades of Lexus RX - the entry-level Luxury, the athletically-intent F Sport, and the plush Sports Luxury flagship. 

And then you need to consider there are three different powertrains available - the four-cylinder turbocharged RX 300, the V6 petrol RX 350, and the petrol-electric hybrid RX 450h.

And then there’s the question of how many seats - because depending on the grade, you can go for a seven-seat version of the RX with a now-adjustable third row seat setup.

So yes, it’s a bit complicated, but the table below should help you figure out the model comparison for yourself:

Grade

Price (RRP - before on-road costs)

Five-seat models

 

RX 300 Luxury

$71,920

RX 300 F Sport

$86,800

RX 300 Sports Luxury

$92,700

RX 350 Luxury

$81,890

RX 350 F Sport

$93,970

RX 350 Sports Luxury

$99,870

RX 450h Luxury

$91,090

RX 450h F Sport

$103,440

RX 450h Sports Luxury

$109,340

Seven-seat models

 

RX 350L Luxury

$85,000

RX 350L Sports Luxury

$101,600

RX 450hL Luxury

$94,470

RX 450hL Sports Luxury

$111,070

Wondering if you should compare the Luxury vs the F Sport for your needs? Here’s a rundown of the trim levels and standard features in each.

The Luxury grade gets 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights (with auto on/off function and auto high-beam), front cornering lamps, rains sensing wipers, and a power tailgate with kick-to-open function. 

Inside, Luxury models have the new 12.3-inch touch screen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a GPS navigation system (sat nav), DAB digital radio (as well as CD player and AM/FM radio), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a 12-speaker sound system, six USB ports (four front, two rear), wireless phone charging, smart key entry and push-button start, power adjustable steering column, climate control air-con and rear privacy glass (tinted windows). It runs a fake leather trim standard, and yes, there is a sunglass holder.

The step up to F Sport and Sports Luxury grades now sees adaptive LED high-beam headlights using “blade scan” technology fitted - they don’t shine the light at the road, rather at a mirror that spins at up to 12,000rpm and, according to the brand, boosts brightness and reach compared to conventional LED units. These variants run on 20-inch wheels, too. 

F Sport and Sports Luxury models also gain adaptive variable suspension, plus they get leather interior trim (with sports seats in the F Sport) with heating and cooling for the front seats. The rear seats have retractable sunshades.

Being the sport edition, the F Sport features additional bracing front and rear for “an even more dynamic character”, with sports suspension, a Mark Levinson sound system with 15 speakers, and a 360-degree camera display.

Top-spec Sports Luxury versions further add power-adjustable rear seats, second-row seat heating and semi-aniline leather upholstery. No heated steering wheel or rear seat entertainment system, though.

Want more? There is a premium package - or Enhancement Pack, in Lexus speak - for Luxury variants which adds a panoramic sunroof on five-seat models or a smaller moonroof on seven-seaters, among other niceties. The cost and additional equipment varies depending on the model. You might need to shop around for rough-and-tumble accessories like a nudge bar, bull bar, rubber floor mats or less shiny rims. 

Colour choices (or colors, as your autocorrect may insist) across the RX range include black, white, red, blue, silver, gold, grey and brown (bronze), plus there’s now a lovely green hue, too. You can choose between four different interior colour combos, as well. 

Safety levels are up across the board - read the section below for more.

Across the board there is good value here, but that’s especially the case in the entry-grade RX 300 Luxury. 


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.

Engine & trans

Lexus RX7/10

If engine specs are your thing, prepare yourself! We’ve got the outputs and ratings for each of the powertrains here.

The entry-level RX 300 models run a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, with 175kW of power (at 4800rpm) and 350Nm of torque (at 1650-4000rpm). It is front wheel drive only, and comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. There is no manual transmission available. 

Stepping up in engine size and horsepower is the RX 350, which has a 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine producing 221kW (at 6300rpm) and 370Nm (at 1650-4000rpm) in five-seat guise, while the seven-seater has slightly less power due to packaging constraints on the exhaust system - it has 216kW and 358Nm. RX 350 models have an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive (a clever AWD system that mainly drives the front wheels but can add rear wheel drive when necessary - it’s not a serious 4WD / 4x4 system aimed at off road capability). 

The RX 450h adds an electric motor and battery pack to the mix, with the 3.5-litre V6 engine and nickel-metal hydride battery back teaming with a 50kW electric drive rear motor. The combined power output of the hybrid is 230kW, but Lexus doesn’t specify a combined torque figure. It is AWD and uses a CVT with six-step ratios

The kerb weight varies depending on the model, with RX 300 variants between 1890-1995kg, the RX 350 five-seater models between 1980-2090kg and seven-seaters between 2090-2150kg, while the RX 450h’s extra powertrain hardware means it weighs between 2105-2210kg (five-seat) and between 2220-2275kg (seven-seat).

The gross vehicle weight (GVW) ranges from 2500kg for the RX 300, 2575kg for the RX 350 five-seater (2720kg - seven-seater), and 2715kg (2840kg - seven-seater). So, be wary if you have a heavy family.

Planning on having a tow bar or tow hitch receiver fitted? The braked towing capacity for the RX 300 is just 1000kg, while the RX 350 can cope with 1500kg and so can the 450h… but the 450hL model is unable to tow. 

Want a diesel RX? What about a plug in hybrid or LPG model? None of those are available at the time of writing.


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.

Fuel consumption

Lexus RX7/10

Fuel economy is yet another consideration, and while there is a hybrid model, there are no fuel-sipping hybrids… plus Lexus’s turbo petrol doesn’t claim as low a figure as some of its rivals. There is an eco mode in each of the models. 

For instance, the RX 300 claims fuel consumption of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres, while the RX 350 is said to use 9.6L/100km for the five-seater and 10.2L/100km for the seven-seater. 

The hybrid RX 450h five-seater claims fuel use of 5.7L/100km, and the seven-seat RX 450hL is said to use 6.0L/100km. 

Fuel tank capacity is 72 litres for the RX 300 and RX 350, while the RX450h variants have a smaller 65-litre tank - that shouldn’t affect your potential mileage per tank though, because it uses less fuel. 

Note: you need to use 95RON premium unleaded, no matter the model.


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

Lexus RX7/10

The company claims it has made a lot of changes to what’s under the metalwork of the RX, and I can tell you the results are a bit varied. 

The revisions to the chassis - thicker stabiliser bars and softer suspension, revised bearings, retuned electric power steering, a new torque vectoring by braking system - generally make for a more enjoyable and comfortable drive experience. But that wasn’t really the case in one of the grades I drove.

It has to be said, though, that my time at launch was spent in the RX 450h Sports Luxury, which gets a plush adaptive suspension tune on the 20-inch wheel package, and also the RX 300 F Sport, which likewise runs 20s but has a firmer suspension setup with extra body stiffening.

What it meant was the two felt vastly different - the F Sport felt overly thumpy and fiddly over rippled or lumpy sections of road where the front suspension felt flummoxed. We didn’t do an off road review, but there was a long, patchy driveway on the road loop where the RX 300 F Sport didn’t feel at home at all. Ground clearance is 200mm for most models, while the 450h is 195mm. 

That said, the RX 300 F Sport was perfectly fine on the freeway back to Sydney, and decent on slow-moving city streets, too. 

On the other hand, the RX 450h was generally more composed, sedate in its actions, more measured in the way it handled bumps. Even without air suspension (as many rivals offer), the Sports Luxury model was a more Lexus-like experience - even if there is more noticeable road noise because the powertrain is so quiet.

The retuned steering offers a lightness that makes it feel easy to drive, and the turning radius (aka turning circle) is 11.8m, which is decent for a car of this size (no matter whether you get the smaller alloy wheels or the larger chrome wheels). Oddly, though, the lock-to-lock movement feels very hard to judge. 

When it comes to performance figures, the hybrid versions have the edge. The 0-100 time for the five-seat RX 450h version is 7.7 seconds, while the five seater RX 350 claims 8.0sec and the RX 300 is said to do the sprint in 9.2sec. The L models are slower (RX 450hL - 8.0sec; RX 350L - 8.2sec).

The RX 450h felt effortless to drive - admittedly relaxed, and not exactly fun, but sorted and comfortable and predictable enough.

The overall impression for the drive experience in the updated RX range at launch was somewhat limited, as we didn’t get a chance to drive the biggest-selling RX 350 model, which accounts for about half of all RX sales here. A shame, too, because we get the feeling it’d be the sweet spot for a lot of people.


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.

Safety

Lexus RX9/10

The safety rating of the Lexus RX range hasn’t changed since it was tested back in 2015, when it scored the maximum five-star ANCAP score. The criteria for achieving that score has shifted over the years, but the brand has improved safety equipment on all models in the RX range.

Features on all models include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works at high and low speeds with day/night pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, plus every model has adaptive cruise control, lane trace assist (an evolution of lane keeping assist and lane departure warning that aims to keep you centred in your lane). Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a new “parking support braking system” incorporates rear AEB for static and moving objects into the mix, too. 

There’s also traffic sign recognition, and every Lexus RX has 10 airbags (dual front, front side, driver and passenger knee, rear side and full length curtain).

There are dual ISOFIX baby car seat anchor points and three top-tether restraints in all RX models, while models with a third row also get an additional top tether.  

The entry-level Luxury model gets a reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors, while the F Sport and Sports Luxury variants add a 360-degree camera. No model has semi-autonomous parking assist. 

Where is the Lexus RX built? Japan is the answer. 


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.

Ownership

Lexus RX8/10

Lexus continues to resist offering a capped price servicing plan in Australia, and still doesn’t have a pre-pay service plan like all of its rival luxury brands. It’s a shame you can’t include a maintenance cost in your car finance, as that’s one of the big advantages of a pre-pay plan.

That might factor into your ownership decision, but indicative costs for servicing are about what you’d expect for a large luxury SUV. Read our Lexus service cost story here

Service intervals for RX models are every 12 months/15,000km - and you when it’s time for a service you can either get a free loan car, or have your car collected and returned to your home or office when a service is required.

While the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo are all still running a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, Lexus has a four-year/100,000km plan. Hey, you could consider that an extended warranty based on the status quo! There’s the same cover for roadside assist, too. 

If you’ve got concerns over common problems, complaints or issues, whether there have been transmission problems or issues with the engine or suspension - or if you just want to know our reliability ratings and resale value projections, you can head to our Lexus RX problems page.


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.