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Test Driving the New Jaguar E-PACE


 I recently had the opportunity to test drive one of the newest models from Jaguar, theE-PACE sportutility. 

The Jaguar E-PACE has a sculpted hood, muscular rear haunches and the lines of a coupe. A visual appraisal tells me that this sporty-looking new Jag will be a hit with owners looking for a small SUV to drive to their beach house or place in the Poconos. 

For easy, practical loading, the E-PACE’s cargo space is about 4.3 feet wide. The optional power tailgate lets you open the trunk hands-free. The E-PACE is the company’s first crossover and will compete with many U.S. and European crossover vehicles. 

The E-PACE set an official Guiness World Record during its world premiere by jumping 50 feet, complete with a 270-degree corkscrew-like barrel roll. “Our new compact SUV combines the interior space, connectivity and security that families expect with the kind of proportions, purity of design and performance not usually associated with such a practical vehicle,” says Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design. 

Compared to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, the E-PACE is larger and more expensive at $54,000. Time will tell if the new small Jag gains market share from its competitors in a crowded SUV market. 

There are two E-PACE models available. The base model is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s rated at 246 horsepower. The 296 horsepower version that I am driving shares a nine-speed transmission with its sibling model. 

Jaguar E-PACE CorsicaThe E-PACE could be confusing, since several automakers use “E” to mean electric power. But the E-PACE monicker actually means SUV. Jaguar says that my higher-output engine’s all-wheel-drive system is more advanced and helps improve the E-PACE’s handling when going around turns. I confirmed the claim while driving around Hunt Country. 

The performance and handling of my Jaguar SUV was noteworthy and enjoyable. Off-the-line acceleration was quick and smooth, thanks to the turbo and plenty of torque from a standstill. 

Equipped with technology called “Active Driveline” my tester is able to deliver even greater levels of traction, stability and composure in challenging conditions. This feature also optimizes traction and agility and provides rear-wheel drive handling characteristics by allowing up to 100 percent of rear axle drive torque to be distributed to either rear wheel according to available grip. So you always feel in control, a display on the touchscreen lets you know what’s happening. 

This small vehicle is loaded with so many features, it took me time to operate and appreciate all of them. To improve safety, two latch points for baby/child seat restraints are fitted on each side of the rear seats. A system of six airbags—including driver and front passenger bags, side curtain, and thorax—is standard. 

If you’re a “Jaguarista” who loves new or classic Jag automobiles you may find the Jaguar Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) unit of interest. It customizes the vehicle to your specifications—much like a British tailor might personally craft a made-to-measure bespoke suit for you from his Savile Row boutique. 

Jaguar also gives you the opportunity to chose from E-PACE interior and exterior features and colors, along with the engine, wheels and other details that make it your own. Rest assured, there’s a wide range of options to choose from. 

The optional Black Package adds a touch of drama. It includes a gloss-black grille and alloy wheels, heated front and rear seats, a panoramic roof, a head-up display, and a surround camera and sound system. 

The Jaguar E-PACE I drove included 14 optional features designed to protect me and the passengers—and also provide driver assistance when needed. Among those: Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Traction Control, Hill Start Assist, Cornering Brake Control, Roll Stability Control and Emergency Brake Assist. An anti-lock system helps to shorten braking distance. 

The E-PACE is backed by Jaguar’s five- year/70,000-mile coverage program, including a limited warranty, complimentary maintenance and roadside assistance.