My knowledge of the Jaguar was limited, be it four-legged or four-wheeled. Thoughts of the marque conjured images of stately sedans or curvy two-door coupes, all in British racing green with wood detailing. Yet the Jaguar E-Pace is an SUV, it’s modern and mine was ‘Firenze red’.
For town driving, it has everything you need. Those already cruising around in late model cars will be familiar with the vehicle-controlled elements that make the idea of driverless cars a less futuristic reality. Adaptive Cruise Control sees the E-Pace slow down to always maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front (even when you have the cruise control set to 100km/h), Lane Keep Assist will correct your route if you drift while on the motorway, and Driver Condition Monitor will let you know when you need more coffee – or a break. But Park Assist is something else.
The nine-speed automatic not only searches for and locates a park, it will then turn the steering wheel to line up with its final destination. Prompts leave it to you to control acceleration, braking and gear changing, but you soon realise how far we’ve come from the Flintstones, and how much closer we’re getting to the Jetsons.
In this particularly upspec R-Dynamic SE P250 model, the best place to be was on the open road. The four-cylinder 2-litre petrol engine promises 0-100km/h in 7 seconds, and, I tell you what, that’s no joke. The rate at which the E-Pace leaped off the mark couldn’t help but make a driver smile – like the proverbial cat that’s got the cream.
The E-Pace hits the market to rival the smaller SUVs available – think BMW X1 and Audi Q3. So, while there is plenty of room for two seats in the back, the children don’t seem a world away. It’s compact, as it is designed to be, yet with a panoramic glass roof, as in the test car, things – including the family – are looking up.
With All Surface Progress Control enabling you to set a constant speed through slippery surfaces, as well as a specific rain/ice/snow mode (complementing comfort, eco and dynamic), it’s clear this all-wheel drive Jaguar is not afraid of the elements. As a driver, there’s extra peace of mind thanks to the E-Pace’s SOS Emergency Call (a button situated near the rear-view mirror). If correctly linked, when pressed it will connect you with emergency services, even when out of cell phone range, and it will automatically make the call if the airbags are deployed.
Despite that ‘E’, this is not Jaguar’s foray into the electric vehicle market – the all-electric I-Pace will be released next year. Fingers crossed there’s the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one of these because, if the E-Pace is anything to go by, these new cats might be crowned king of the jungle yet.