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2018 Jaguar E-PACE: Fashion Statement or Full-Bodied Capability?

Jaguar’s 2018 E-PACE SUV/crossover/thingo has made its “official” debut, so now we can start talking about it. Yes, yes, I know. This thing has been all over various forms of media for months now, but Jag insists on mining as much exposure as they can, so here it is. Again.

Jaguar, following the lead of Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and even Maserati (somehow!) realized that thar’s gold in them thar suburbs! And decided the best way to mine it was to make their own SUV/crossover. Jaguar is very certain about what the E-PACE is: “a compact performance SUV.”

Fashion Statements

Which means, in Jaguar’s eyes, you could take this thing off-road. Hey, stop laughing! I think Jaguar is serious, although I doubt you’ll see this thing traipsing through Moab or having a go at King of The Hammers or even blasting around my cousin’s property in Washougal. No, let’s face the real facts here. The Jaguar E-PACE is aimed squarely at those that aspire to be recurring cast members on The Real Housewives of Orange County/New Jersey/etc. And really, how can you blame Jag at this point. If people are willing to throw tens-of-thousands of dollars your way to make a vehicular fashion statement, you’d be dumb as a carmaker not to pick it up.

So what, exactly, are we dealing with here in the Jaguar E-PACE? The E-PACE (yes, in all caps, just to be extra annoying) is a five-seat compact SUV.  Jag says the E-PACE “packs the design and performance of a Jaguar sports car into a practical and connected all-wheel drive vehicle.” No seriously, that’s a direct quote. I was at an auto show once, and a Hummer salesman said to a prospective woman buyer that an H1 Alpha Hummer “handles like a big Miata.” He said this directly in front of me and about 6 fellow members of a rally club I was in. We literally started pointing and laughing as the prospective woman buyer quickly exited and, get this, the Hummer salesman actually tried to debate with us over the handling qualities of an H1 Alpha Hummer. He was serious and, somehow, so is Jaguar when it comes to the E-PACE.

Sure, the E-PACE is the smallest and newest member of Jaguar’s SUV offerings, and therefore must handle better than Jag’s F-PACE SUV, but c’mon: “packs the design and performance of a Jaguar sports car into a practical and connected all-wheel drive vehicle?” Best of luck with that Nigel. I guess it is worth pointing out that when it comes to the big brother F-PACE, Jaguar did get that one right enough to win World Car of the Year. So perhaps this isn’t that bad of a ride overall; just don’t tell me it’s a Lotus 7 that can also run the Baja 1000 while taking the kids to Montessori. I got eyes ya know.

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The chassis for the 2018 E-PACE is based on the sophisticated Integral Link rear suspension developed for the Jaguar F-PACE. The Integral Link architecture separates lateral and longitudinal forces to provide responsive steering and handling with impact absorption for greater refinement. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.

Power & Performance

The E-PACE comes in Standard, S, SE, and HSE specifications along with the R-Dynamic (which is the sportiest version available). Both of your engine choices are 2.0-liter four-bangers, bafflingly dubbed “Ingenium” powertrains. Someone in the marketing department clearly needs more supervision. Anyway, said engines are gasoline fueled, turbocharged mills delivering either 246 horsepower or 296 horsepower, which is pretty good for that few of liters and cylinders. I’d really love to see Jag drop that into a 2,500 lbs. roadster, but that probably won’t happen.

Jag also notes the E-PACE has “sports car-inspired design” which is, honestly, a crying shame to read from the same company that created the immortal beloved E-Type. Anyhoo, the “sports car-inspired” stuff includes a sports-style gear shifter which is kind of odd since the gearbox is a ZF 9-speed automatic transmission. Jaguar’s adaptive shift system monitors your preferred driving style and tailors itself accordingly. For example, the system reduces shift times during more intense driving but can switch into a more economical mode; this is all dependent on your tastes as a driver.

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The Active Driveline AWD system can transfer almost all the engine torque to either the front or rear axles in extreme conditions. During steady state cruising, Active Driveline disengages the AWD system, sending power only to the front axle, reducing parasitic losses. The system can re-engage AWD seamlessly within just 300 milliseconds (0.3 seconds) when a change in driving conditions is detected. During cornering, the Active Driveline software analyzes yaw rate, throttle position, steering angle, and lateral acceleration in order to pre-emptively distribute more torque to the outside wheels when needed for neutral and predictable handling. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.

Suspension & Safety Tech

Coventry did not exactly scrimp on the suspension and drivetrain bits though. The suspension architecture is purposefully lightweight and all-wheel drive is the only power delivery choice we have. There are no two-wheel drive versions available, and I got to give Jag props for that.

Jag does point out the E-PACE’s torque vectoring is via the braking system, which still counts, but is a cheap way to accomplish the job. The Torque Vectoring system uses the brakes to imitate the effect of a torque-vectoring differential, balancing the distribution of engine torque between all four wheels during cornering. This improves grip and overall control, which will help drivers in a number of situations.

The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE also offers an array of driver assistance technologies, including Dynamic, Roll, and Electronic Stability Control, Trailer Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, Emergency Brake Assist, and Corner Brake Control. The front and rear seats also feature seatbelt pre-tensioners that assist in minimizing movement during a collision while two ISOFIX points are fitted to the outer rear seats.

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From the demanding Nürburgring circuit and high-speed Nardò test track to the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa, the E-PACE has been put to the test in some of the world’s most challenging environments. Jaguar engineers have braved freezing temperatures and high altitudes to ensure the E-PACE can withstand a lifetime of use in the hands of the most active and demanding customers. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.

Connectivity Features

Even though it’s not the biggest Jag SUV to be had, you still get seating for five. You get enough connectivity gizmos that it should keep your kids happy and quiet. The E-PACE has streaming for up to eight devices thanks to an optional 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. There’s an InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with a 10-inch touchscreen that connects you to smartphone applications via Jaguar’s InControl App function.

The driver gets a big honking 12.3-inch full color TFT display and Heads-Up Display system for “added convenience.” Yes, I guess not knowing how fast you’re going would count as being an “inconvenience.” There’s a gizmo dubbed “Available Configurable Dynamics technology” that delivers Jaguar dynamics (whatever that counts as) allowing you to personalize throttle, steering, and transmission settings, which honestly sounds pretty cool.

The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE is also available with a choice of two premium audio systems developed with Meridian, just in case you can’t drive without your favorite tunes. The second of the two systems, an 825-watt Surround Sound ordeal with 15 speakers, would be our personal choice.

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The interior focal point is a wraparound cockpit with the passenger grab handle forming the boundary of the driver console – a design concept inspired by the Jaguar F-TYPE. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.

Pricing & Availability

Cost for the E-PACE ranges between $38,600 to $53,550, which seems to hit a real sweet spot in comparison to the competition. That starts a little bit more than a fully loaded <shudder> minivan that your brain says you should get, but your gut is screaming that you fend off any and all dowdy parental trappings as if they were hungry sharks. No, no. You’ve got pretensions to uphold as you deliver your twins, Tyler and Twyla, to lacrosse and/or dance classes. You will not be sullied by a <shudder> minivan. The Jaguar E-PACE goes on sale at the beginning of 2018.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

2018 Jaguar E-PACE Gallery

Photos & Source: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.