We drove two of Jaguar’s E-Pace SUV derivatives at the local launch in and around Johannesburg recently and we were suitably impressed.
First we slipped into the First Edition P250 petrol-powered E-Pace (that will exclusively be available in the first year of launch) in the sporty Caldera Red hue, which delivers 183kW of power and 365Nm of torque and like all the derivatives, is mated with nine-speed auto transmission and comes with all-wheel drive.
Although it’s the less powerful of the two petrol engines on offer, we found the Jag’s new compact SUV to have more than enough roar.
The vehicle was extremely responsive with more than enough wattage to propel us forward at a rapid rate, if so desired. In fact Jaguar claim that the P250, which they playfully refer to as the ‘cub’, can achieve a 0-100km/h sprint in 7 seconds, while the P300 can do it in 6.4 seconds. This is all relative of course. If you compare it to a Porsche 911 Turbo that can cover the same distance in three seconds flat, you may consider it slow. However comparing apples with apples, the BMW X2 sDrive20i – that launches in South Africa this week – which is also powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, takes around 7.7 seconds. It’s all fairly irrelevant though, as we were not on a track and we were in no way racing. We drove it exactly as you might on the highways and byways of the City of Gold. The fact that the E-Pace responds when you put your foot down on the highway, or to overtake, is appreciated – some of Jag’s sporty DNA has made its way into this SUV without over doing it. Riding on 20-inch wheels (21-inch alloys are optional), the drive quality is sublime on the tarred roads that we traversed.
Our route did not take us over any gravel or dirt and just as well, as the 245/45/R20 Pirelli Scorpion Zero tyres are no doubt far more at home (and less likely to pick up a puncture) on flawless bitumen. First we headed for Soccer City, the 100 000-seater FNB Stadium that needs no introduction, where we had the unusual experience of enjoying high tea within the stadium grounds… I’m not sure that Kaiser Chiefs could say the same.
From there we headed to the suburbs of Johannesburg where we got a taste of everyday driving that one can expect to experience most often. The navigation system duly directed us to take a ‘slight left’ or ‘slight right’ wherever there was a fork, or even when an actual left turn that wasn’t a 90-degrees was required.
The cabin of the E-Pace is luxurious and comfortable, as one would expect. It comes kitted out with the latest generation of Jaguar’s Touch Pro infotainment system and the standard 10-inch touchscreen. There is an optional 12.3-inch full-colour digital TFT instrument panel and ours also came with the very convenient head-up display, which projected our speed and imminent turns (synced with the navigation system) onto the windscreen ahead.
Appealing to young people and ‘the modern family’, Jaguar has provided four 12-volt charging points and five USB connections as well as a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices. Space is also very generous with rear legroom of 892mm and luggage capacity of 577 litres.
After our lunch stop we swapped into the two-litre turbo diesel-powered R-Dynamic D240 in range-topping HSE trim, this time in the slightly deeper Firenze Red.
The interior was just as refined and the driving experience was much the same as in the First Edition petrol SUV, however we did enjoy the P250 slightly more than the diesel. It was hardly perceptible but the petrol-powered E-Pace delivered a smoother performance. We found that there was some turbo lag on the D240 – on the up side, the diesel derivative does give better fuel economy and it still delivers a great drive.
From Johannesburg we drove to the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve where we spotted a single hartebeest and enjoyed the most delightful view of the city’s skyline in the distance, before heading back.
The E-Pace is available with Standard, S, SE and HSE specification packs, in core or R-Dynamic body styles. There is a choice of three 2.0-litre diesel engines, with outputs of 110kW, 132kW and 177kW, and two 2.0-litre petrol engines, producing 183kW and 221kW, respectively.
Pricing starts at R598 500. The First Edition P250 AWD that we drove first retails for R895 700 and the kitted out version (with R109 900 of optional extras fitted) of the R-Dynamic HSE D240 retails for R954 000.
All new Jaguar cars come with the five-year Jaguar Care Plan: a five-year/100 000km service plan, a five-year/100 000km maintenance plan and a five-year/100 000km warranty, as standard.