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The Jaguar E-PACE has more road presence and is sharper to drive but the Volvo XC40 rides more comfortably and is more sophisticated.

14 May 2018


The Jaguar E-PACE certainly has its work cut out for it going up against the Volvo XC40. While both are new, big on interior elegance, all-round sophistication and premium appeal, the E-PACE is but Jaguar's second attempt at the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) market.

The XC40, on the other hand, may be an equally all new model for Volvo but it rides on the expertise of the company's long and successful SUV lineup, which consists of the XC60 and the XC90.

And although both cars, great in their own rights, are attractive alternatives to the German establishment, they are distinctly different and will tailor to the likings of very different tastes.

Despite being the same size and in the same class, the E-PACE (left) and XC40 (right) have drastically different characteristics

Striking cat and suave Swede

Those who prefer their SUV with a good dose of sports car-inspired sheet metal will immediately take to the E-PACE, which looks a lot like a remoulded F-TYPE. Whether parked or on the move, the E-PACE is the car that you're more likely to take a second glance at.

The XC40 is quite the opposite, opting instead for a less intimidating, more clean-cut design that's typical of Scandinavian styling - a trait that clearly continues on the inside.

The E-PACE's matte-finished, blade-like 20-inch wheels are a good example of how it's the more striking car

Jag's cabin has flair but Volvo's feels better put together

Like its sheet metal, the dashboard layout of the E-PACE is lifted from the F-TYPE. With its sloping design and wrap-around centre stack, there's definitely a more dramatic feel sitting in the driver's seat of the Jag. For the most part, it feels premium enough and is an entirely pleasant place to be in, especially with its more natural driving position.

But admittedly, when you start paying a little closer attention, it does feel like the older car with its less techy infotainment system and the presence of more tacky plastic fittings.

The cabin layout of the XC40 is clean and clinical but as such leaves a colder impression

The cabin of the XC40, contrarily, chooses a more minimalist design, especially with its high-resolution touchscreen infotainment display that does away with the need for too many buttons. Not that it's entirely good news, though, as the screen doesn't always react that quickly to inputs, which can be frustrating when you're focused on the road.

But if you're especially fussy about fit and finish, the XC40 is the winner here with an overall quality that's up there with the best in the business. Its seats are also cushier but that's no surprise since it's always been somewhat of a Volvo specialty.

At the same time, it feels like the roomier car of the two, with a longer wheelbase and a rear bench that also employs a taller backrest and more usable headrest. The Jag, however, has a bigger 478-litre boot compared to the 460 litres of the XC40.

While its rival may feel roomier, the E-PACE is able to a hold a couple more bags with its 478-litre boot

Pouncing Jaguar, cruising Volvo


On the road, the E-PACE is quick to show that it's the more driver-focused car. On paper, the XC40 may be the quicker, more powerful one here but it's the Jag that's torquier from the lights and has a more responsive powertrain. There's also noticeably more turbo lag from the XC40, which can be annoying when you're in a hurry.

The E-PACE is much more encouraging of enthusiastic driving, with its sharper, more direct steering and exemplary body control. There's a zest in the way it moves around corners that really belies its size and weight.

The Volvo's turbocharged 2.0-litre makes more power but the apparent turbo lag is something that cannot be ignored

But is spirited driving really the name of this game? Volvo doesn't seem to think so. And we suspect that neither would most buyers. In that sense, the XC40 chooses the path of pliancy, which shows in its cushioned approach over rough roads and manhole covers. It's definitely nowhere near as satisfying to drive as but its composure makes it the better family vehicle to have.

Tough fight then, this?

You bet, although we wish it weren't because these two cars are fantastic products from amazing brands. If it were up to us, we'd have both in our garages.

The meatiness and directness of the E-PACE's steering is a welcoming feature for enthusiasts

As an SUV, the E-PACE goes above and beyond regular duties to deliver a drive that stirs more emotions than the XC40. It's definitely the one for dads or mums who don't want to sacrifice driving fun in the name of practicality.

But as an SUV, whose primary role is catering to the space and comfort of families, the Volvo just proves to be a fair bit better. It's more composed and offers a little more overall refinement than its British competitor.
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Car Information

spacer
Jaguar E-PACE 2.0 First Edition (A)
Rate it

Price

: POA

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1997cc

Horsepower

:

183kW (245 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

365 Nm / 4500 rpm

Transmission

:

9-speed (A) Jaguar Sequential Shift

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

7sec

Top Speed

:

230km/h

Fuel consumption

:

12.9 km/L

spacer

Price

: $185,000

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1969cc

Horsepower

:

185kW (248 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

350 Nm / 4800 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

6.4sec

Top Speed

:

230km/h

Fuel consumption

:

12.9 km/L

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