After polishing the F-Pace, Jaguar has turned its attention to the smaller E-Pace. We check out the new P300 Sport.
Jaguar has been busy of late updating its model range and the latest to get a thorough renewal is the E-Pace. It doesn’t look much different, but it sits on a madeover platform, while the interior design team has put in the mahi updating the look, feel and connectedness of the firm’s smallest SUV.
Jaguar’s exterior designs have been pretty sharp this past decade, so the overall look remains largely untouched with just a few details like the vents, grilles and lights tweaked. While you can appreciate the lines of a car as you approach it, it’s the interior you interact with more often, and that’s where the effort has been expended with this revamp, as with F-Pace.
Dominating the dash, the new 11.4-inch touchscreen is said to be three times brighter with anti-glare properties (seems fair) and a resistance to fingerprints (it still marks fairly easily). Better is the revised layout (thanks mainly to a 43 per cent larger screen) that sees fewer taps and swipes to get things done. Faster responses help too, especially at start-up, while added functionality will endear it to lovers of apps. We like how the nav remembers your frequently visited locations and will display journey times to them, based on real time traffic info. With a digi dash allowing for configurable layouts and a head-up display, there’s an abundance of information before you.
The ventilation has its own controllers for ease of use and only light up once you switch the car on for added effect. Jag’s easier-to-use gear selector now features too. Simply pull back on the smartly formed, if stubby, lever and when you need more urgency pull on it again and you’re in the Sport mode. That then lets you flap on the lovely alloy paddles if you want. The steering wheel is a fine mix of design and functionality with its touch-sensitive pads and a few conventional switches to ease operation. A wireless device charger at the base of the centre stack has a rubber lining that subtly features the spots of a Jaguar’s pelt, an example of a few interior details you might miss on first encounter.
New too is the line-up of mild hybrid engines, this P300 Sport with an impressive 221kW from the boosted 2.0-litre four, and a plump 400Nm of torque. This new Ingenium engine has a belt-integrated starter-generator which can charge the 48v battery when slowing, and can assist the engine briefly when accelerating, while facilitating more seamless restarts. The four-pot has variable valve lift and timing, a twin-scroll turbo and improved high pressure injection system. That helps it propel the P300 to 100km/h in a claimed (and verified) 6.9sec. But does the hybridisation result in amazing fuel consumption? Er, not really, with the figures for round-town commuting in the 11L/100km bracket. The 48v system brings extended start- stop characteristics, the engine killed when you slow below about 20km/h and, while it’s quick to refire, it’s not the smoothest operator in traffic as it’s always off and on and off again. There’s a stop/start kill button on the console if you really need to sort it. There’s also a mild regenerative effect when you lift off the gas, so there’s not much in the way of coasting. In more flowing type commuting, the engine has a good spread of torque which is tapped pretty quickly, so feels strong enough to live up to its Sports badging. The nine-speed auto has a slower than desirable initial take up, but is otherwise smooth and refined in traffic. In other markets there’s a PHEV available offering 55km of electric driving with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol and a combined consumption of 2.0L/100km.
The E-Pace now sits atop of the improved ‘Premium Transverse Architecture’. These new underpinnings are stiffer for general improvements to refinement while the suspension pick-up points are more rigid for enhanced handling. The variable AWD system distributes the torque between the front and rear axles to suit traction while the rear axle has a disconnect function when maximum efficiency is required. For the 300 Sport, JLR has added an active rear sports diff which splits the drive left and right when the going gets dynamic.
The Sport comes with adaptive damping so the ride around town is okay considering the large rolling stock. But it gets better at a faster clip. It’s a Jaguar so the damping is always competent and composed. Given the constantly adaptive nature of the suspenders, we left them in Comfort and it rounded up bends in smart fashion. If you can be bothered, dial in the Dynamic setting (using the touchscreen) and it’s more resolute in the control of roll. Though the steering has a slight urge to return to centre, it’s otherwise well weighted and the quick ratio gets it turning quickly. The front end is particularly obedient in corners, sticking fast as the torque vectoring rear diff does its thing. While the engine is a decent goer, the nine-speed auto isn’t the sharpest shifter, dithering on the downshifts in particular. While the rubber is good at gripping, it does generate some unwanted rumble on the coarser surfaces.
We guess you’d call the E-Pace a compact SUV but you might be expecting more interior space given its dimensions. However, it’ll likely be bought by those who will need the rear seat only occasionally and for that it does the job with enough room for two adults. The boot space too is fit for purpose, not huge but neither is it wanting. And, being a hatch, you can fold the seats and it can tote quite a decent load when needs be.
The turning dimensions could be tighter for city driving, though extra cameras now make for easier parking. The doors are oddly heavy – a few people made mention of the struggle to get them open when on a slight incline – and the windscreen proved hard to clear on chilly mornings as the front vents are particularly small. The form-fitting seats warm quickly however.
As with most European offerings, the E-Pace has risen in price, the entry level P200 now $79,900, the P250 at $84,900 and where the top 300 used to be just under $90k, the new P300 Sport now starts at $94,900. That’s not a deal breaker however as the spec level, performance and dynamic characteristics of the E-Pace have all improved. Others to check out in the sector include the Audi Q3 Sportback, equally dynamic and a bit roomier and cheaper to boot or, for something a tad crazier, the AMG GLA 35.
|Model||Jaguar E-Pace P300 Sport|
|Engine||1997cc, IL4, T/DI, 221kW/400Nm|
|Drivetrain||9-speed auto, on-demand AWD|