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2018 Jaguar E-PACE: We Drove it, and We’re Sold

Porto-Vecchio, Corsica, France—The more I think back on this vehicle, the launch event and the whole experience, the more I come to understand exactly what Jaguar has created in the new E-PACE. 

The engineers, designers and big wigs over at Jaguar Land Rover have fashioned what might be the ultimate in automotive click bait. Unlike what click bait actually is—devoid of substance, full of baloney and misleading headlines—the E-PACE provides real and true essence. Despite being aimed at selfie-mad, social-media hoarding youngsters, women especially, there is far more depth and thought put into the latest Jaguar than pursed lips and a life-altering inspirational quote. 

The new 2018 Jaguar E-PACE is the first attempt from the storied brand to interact with a crowd that probably doesn’t know it even exists, or perhaps have heard of in stories told by their grandparents. In 2018, Jag will have plenty to talk about and Millennials might actually be interested in listening. 

You want to get closer to it
I had a brief chat with Adam Hatton, Creative Director of Exterior Design, and in his own words he described the E-PACE as the Jaguar cub. He added: “Think big paws and a smaller body. It’s cheeky, and playful.” That indeed it is and the image works. At one point, early on in the design process, the E-PACE was headed to look like a scale model of the F-PACE, but that did not happen.

What did occur is that the design team turned to the F-Type sports car for inspiration. The front fascia, chamfered from the grille back, is akin to a snout surmounted by Jag signature J-Blade headlights. While I see what the designers were going for, I prefer the F-PACE’s more serious front graphic. The rear is beautifully executed, however. The cute-ute’s haunches are larger than life and mixed with wheels up to 21” in size and near-absent overhangs. The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE is everything but old-school Jag. Yet, it is unmistakingly a Jaguar. 

The cabin is more or less lifted from the F-Type as well, right down to the steering wheel. The seats are cozy, and while there’s decent space up front, adults more than 5’10” in height may complain about legroom on the rear bench. 

Essentially, the E-PACE is meant for younger buyers or empty nesters and, as such, the three rear spots will serve as extra storage. The trunk is fairly capacious at 577 litres, so the vehicle is ideal for a pair of humans looking to explore the world around them. 

The instrument panel is busy, yet clean. Many points are awarded to the available combination of the large user-friendly 10” touchscreen and 12.3” TFT driver display. Through them, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, InControl Touch Pro infotainment system and a host of connectivity features can be controlled. 

Wee, but mighty
If you like to drive, the 2018 Jaguar E-PACE will serve you quite well. Base models get the 246-horsepower version of the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder mill from the Ingenium family of engines. With it comes a permanent AWD system. A 9-speed ZF automatic transmission is included, too.

The drive event featured only 296-horsepower R-Dynamic iterations. This little powerhouse relies on Jaguar’s Active Driveline AWD setup, which has torque-vectoring capabilities front to rear as well as side to side on the rear axle. When driving requirements are light, the system cleverly runs solely as a FWD, but then re-engages AWD in less than an instant. In fact, in the suitable drive mode, the E-PACE will allow you to properly hoon about in slipperier conditions. 

The combination of many gears and 295 lb-ft of torque from 1,500-4,500 rpm means that the Jaguar E-PACE R-Dynamic is very quick. It’ll reach 100 km/h in just over six seconds. This type of spirited driving connects all four wheels for guaranteed grip and performance. Feedback and communication from the front axle is limited and I’m no fan of the on-centre play in the steering, but otherwise it was easy to trust the E-PACE through countless switchbacks. 

When I mentioned “substance” earlier, I meant all of the above. Jaguar even threw in some impressive off-road abilities. We traversed abrupt, rocky and slippery surfaces and the cub never once scowled despite its road-biased Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires. We even went so far as to cross a shallow river without issue. 

Self-selling
If the F-PACE is any indication of the potential a Jaguar utility vehicle has, the all-new E-PACE will sell itself. Jaguar expects that 80% of buyers will be new to the brand and more than likely be women. I think it’ll work. 

The competition in this segment is fierce, but the base price is right at $42,700 (R-Dynamic model starts at $51,000). Related incentives and lease programs will play an important role in how it all goes down, but once more I’m convinced that the company will have no trouble moving them. Jaguar is on the cusp of being hip and cool again. The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE will cement their standing as it will appear behind many a younger person on Instagram with a caption boasting their latest acquisition. 

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Photos:M. St-Pierre
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