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The Jaguar E-PACE has a punchy drivetrain that will go well with its handsome good looks and well-appointed cabin.

02 Feb 2018

Like a Hollywood star showing up fashionably late at the Grammy Awards, the Jaguar E-PACE is making a late entrance to the compact Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) party, but it certainly isn't a dollar short.

The compact sporty SUV resembles the F-PACE from the back

The E-PACE is the second SUV addition to Jaguar's lineup and it sits below the bigger F-PACE as how the Jaguar XE sits below the Jaguar XF. But do not, for a second, mistake the car you see here to be an electric vehicle. While 'E' implies electric in other carmakers' range, it isn't the case with Jaguar.

That would be the Jaguar I-PACE, the brand's third addition to its SUV lineup, which is slated to arrive in Singapore some time in the fourth quarter of this year.

So what exactly is this E-PACE, then?

The car you see here is a compact sporty SUV that goes against the likes of the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and the recently launched Volvo XC40. But unlike these cars, the Jaguar E-PACE is designed to look more prominent and purposeful, with sporty cues taken from the obnoxious F-TYPE sports car.

Large air intakes, swept back headlamps and lovely Caesium Blue make the E-PACE an appealing car from all angles

From stretched back headlamps and large air intakes to a tapered silhouette and muscular haunches, the Jag that you see here is certainly more than just a shrunken version of the F-PACE.

For starters, it has the same architectural platform as the Range Rover Evoque, which will naturally give the car its compact dimensions. In fact, at 4,395mm long, the new Jaguar is one of the shortest in its class. In comparison, the Q3 and the X1 tip the measurement scales at 4,388mm and 4,439mm respectively while the XC40 stands at 4,425mm.

Does that mean the cabin is best suited for kids only?

Don't be ridiculous. The cabin is anything but lacking. Thanks to engineering wizardry, the E-PACE is blessed with a generous wheelbase of 2,681mm, which gives rear passengers sufficient legroom. And despite its tapered roofline, Asian adults will still get adequate head space.

The cabin is made up of luxurious touches and functional space

Sure, this Jag will not give you copious amounts of space. That would be job of a bigger SUV like the F-PACE. Instead, what this compact SUV will give you is a form that will go hand-in-hand with emotions, thanks to the little things that Jaguar has incorporated into the E-PACE that differentiate this from its competitors.

For instance, the silhouette of a mother jaguar and her cub is incorporated at the base of the windshield, which is definitely a conversation starter and a smile inducer. Then there is the comfortable cabin that isn't just luxurious but also user-friendly for all on board.

Other than having five USB outlets and four 12V power sockets, you can configure the centre console to slot your smartphone nicely or even place two one-litre water bottles lying down. And these are in addition to the standard arrangement of two cupholders.

Nuff' said. Can it drive as well as it looks?

You bet it can. Piloting the Jaguar E-PACE is a strong 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder powerplant that oozes out 300bhp and 400Nm of twisting force from the word go.

2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant pumps out 300bhp and 400Nm of torque from the word go

Stomp on the right pedal and all those horses and torque will be forced out to all four wheels, allowing the car to hurtle from nought to 100km/h in 6.4 seconds. To put things into perspective, that is as fast as the Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch and is over a second faster than the equivalent-engined Audi Q3. Considering the Jag weighs close to 1.9 tonnes, which is one of the heaviest in its class, it's quite a feat indeed.

Also a feat is the way the car handles itself around sharp hairpin turns and long sweeping corners. There's always ample grip from the tyres and it never fails to stay neat and balanced at higher speeds. There's a tinge of understeer should you decide to enter bends at much higher speeds than you should but there isn't a time when you'll feel unsafe.

The car twists and turns to your every command

Thus, the very fact that the Jag is such a sensible car, couple with its compact size, makes it a very enjoyable car to pilot and chuck around, even if it means that the steering lacks the kind of communication the BMW X1 is capable of.

Around town, the car shows no indication of crashiness that's often associated with sporty SUVs. The suspension is firm and you feel it by way of being jostled along badly cracked and uneven tarmac but it's never to a point of being uncomfortable, even on those huge 20-inch shoes.

Tough task, but is the Jag up for it?

There is no doubt that the Jaguar E-PACE faces the rampant known rivals from Germany, but we are convinced none of them currently have the style and panache of the Jag.

577 litres of boot space is one of the best in its class

The carmaker has somehow developed this compact SUV with the kind of completeness and class that will make it a worthy contender to strong opponents in its ever-popular segment, while ensuring that all the good bits like poise and performance are securely retained to attract new customers.

For these reasons, logically, the Jaguar wins our recommendations over its rivals, even if the Audi Q3 has a better perceived cabin quality and the BMW X1 has a more polished behaviour on the road. The E-PACE, as we've come to appreciate over the last couple of days, is more encouraging to drive than its segment rivals. And for that, emotionally, is one particular sweet, soft spot that Jaguar has struck soundly.
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