2018 Jaguar E-Pace D180 AWD Review
Paul Horrell’s 2018 Jaguar E-Pace D180 AWD Review with performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
IN A NUTSHELL Jaguar is finally pitching for the smokin’-hot small SUV market, so there’s a wide range of versions available. Very good to drive, not so great to ride in.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace D180 AWD (European spec)
Price $NA + orc Warranty 3 years/100,000km Engine (tested) 2.0l turbo 4cyl diesel Power 132kW at 4000rpm Torque 429Nm at 1750rpm Transmission 9-speed auto Drive four-wheel drive Body 4411mm (l); 1900mm (w exc mirrors); 2088mm (w inc mirrors); 1649mm (h) Turning circle 11.4m Towing weight 1800kg (braked), 750kg (unbraked) Kerb weight 1843kg Seats 5 Fuel tank 56 litres Spare No Thirst 5.6 l/100km combined cycle Fuel Diesel
THE JAGUAR E-PACE will arrive Down Under next month, but we wanted to get a little taste test out of the way first…Jaguar’s sister brand Land Rover makes both the Range Rover Evoque and the Discovery Sport, so those were the starting point for the E-Pace. It’s closely derived from their steel platform, their suspension, their electronics and their powertrains. But it’s set between the two in size and wheelbase, to make a more family-oriented proposition than the Evoque, and the dynamics are livelier too.
Engines are all transversely mounted two-litre petrol and diesel, and the transmission a nine-speed auto. All versions are AWD. Inside, they tried to make the dash resemble the F-Type sports car’s, but also made sure there are lots of storage bins and power points for real-life family use.
What’s the interior like?
The test car’s instrument binnacle had virtual screen-based dials rather than a real speedo and rev-counter. A third space on the screen can show entertainment details, phone, trip computer, navigation arrow or whatever.
That setup can be switched out to reveal a heading-map that covers the whole screen, but that’s not a great use of the wide but shallow display. You don’t want a map to show a lot of area to your sides, you want it to show a lot of what’s ahead.
Climate controls are neatly designed and clear. The face vents are mounted above the central screen, so they actually do point at your face. Too many cars aim these at your ribcage.
Under and behind that, you get useful storage, including a big bin under the armrest, handy for electronics or water bottles. Or, in fact, two wine bottles.
The central screen is good enough to face the premium rivals, as long as you don’t use CarPlay or Android Auto. If you do you’re out of luck. Jaguar does offer some of its own apps, but they’re buggy and hated by users who review them on the app stores. One handy exception is the ‘remote’ phone app that lets you, when away from the car check and lock the doors and boot, track down the car, log journeys and check the fuel level.
The front seats are strangely shaped, pinching your hips. Might matter if you’re either snake-hipped or so wide as to be well-padded, but I’m in an unhappy medium.
People sitting in the rear get USB ports, vents and reading lights. Its problem is window light, because there’s not a whole lot of glass in the aft-half of the vehicle. Headroom is only just enough for grown-ups but otherwise space is competitive.
The 425-litre boot is shallow, and doesn’t even have the excuse of a spare wheel. Also, because of the stylishly sloping tail, the smallish tailgate aperture is going to be an annoyance if you’re trying to slide in an awkward piece of furniture or bicycle.
What’s it like on the road?
Jaguar Land Rover has copped a lot of criticism for its four-cylinder drivetrains even though the hardware was all launched relatively recently and has modern specs. The diesel engine is often noisy and the nine-speed auto indecisive.
But the E-Pace polishes things well. We’re testing the diesel rated at 177kW, and it generally keeps itself decently muzzled, while dealing out adequate performance at any sane speed. Zero to 100km/h is 8.7 seconds, dragged a little off the pace by the car’s weight. Its steel structure makes it pretty much as heavy as the bigger but aluminium F-Pace.
Low-speed ride comfort is as knobbly an stiff as you’d want a family crossover to be, though most of the other sports-biased (eg BMW) rivals are hardly more supple. Besides, it a consistent sort of firm, without much messy wheel-hop or shudder.
The Jaguar’s great talent is that once you get a bit of speed under the wheels, the suspension feels more supple. Yet at the same time it’s top-of-the-class for fun in the corners. Unlike any other rival, there’s some road feel in the steering, and the chassis gamely resists understeer and body roll. Indeed, switch the sport mode (not all models) and the centre diff shoves extra power rearwards to make the thing feel nicely balanced on full-power exits from tight corners. It feels small and biddable, something you wouldn’t predict from its height and weight.
And yet away from snaking back-roads, highway cruising is stable and particularly peaceful. The engine drops away and tyre noise isn’t much of an issue on the test car’s 19-inch wheels (the photo car is on 20s).
What about safety features?
The EuroNCAP test, which is compatible with Australia’s, arrived at five stars. Rear curtain airbags add to the sidebags and curtains and frontal-crash airbags for the front seats. There’s no knee airbag, and indeed the driver dummy did suffer from ‘weak’ lower-leg protection in the stringent offset barrier test. A switch deactivates the front passenger airbag, for when there’s a rear-facing baby seat installed.
NCAP doesn’t just throw cars at barriers. It also tests the avoidance feartures, and says, “The standard autonomous emergency braking system performed well in tests of its functionality at the low speeds at which many whiplash injuries are caused, with collisions avoided or mitigated at all test speeds.” At city speeds it covers pedestrians and cyclists as well as vehicles. And in the case of an impact, the bonnet raises slightly to provide a softer landing for that unfortunate person.
Useful driver aids include adaptive LED headlamps as an option, though LED is standard, and a comprehensive lane-keeping and blind-spot warning system, designed to nudge you back into lane if you are pulling out in front of a vehicle in your blind-spot.
So, what do we think?
It looks good, but the payback is in a rear seat that’s distinctly average and a boot that’s worse. Also, it’s heavy so fuel economy is sub-par. But most people buy on style and this is a stylish crossover – more so in the real metal than in photos. Most of all what distinguishes it is a fluent lively athleticism through bends, at a level beyond direct rivals.