Pace Setter

Tees Life’s motoring man Graham Courtney gets his claws into the Jaguar E-PACE and discovers it’s a case of once bitten, forever smitten…

Jaguar can do no wrong at the moment. They’re flying.

The Jaguar XE is the most advanced, efficient and refined sports saloon that Jaguar has ever produced. The XF is a hi-tech saloon and estate car, while the XJ is one of the most handsome, premium luxury cars that you could possibly wish for.

The Jaguar F-Type models are thoroughbred sports cars, while their SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) models offer truly staggering performance.

Meanwhile, over in Jaguar’s SUV department, the PACE is quickening.

First to arrive was the Jaguar F-PACE, a luxury performance SUV offering practicality and efficiency. The latest to arrive is the I-PACE, which is arguably the world’s leading all-electric performance SUV.

In the middle of the PACE cars is the Jaguar E-PACE. This is Jaguar’s first compact SUV. Granted, Jaguar is a tad late arriving at this party but, of course, the advantage of being on the fringe allows you to see what everyone else is doing. Consequently, no surprise that the E-PACE is a cracking car which is frightening the life out of the competition.

If you’re considering an SUV – whether small or large – you should take one for a test drive. Having a Jaguar badge is another reason to buy one.

The E-PACE is expected to be Jaguar’s top seller and a hefty chunk of those buying one will be new to the Jaguar brand. In other words, now that Jaguar has arrived on the compact SUV scene, they are expecting to nick a load of customers from other manufacturers.

The standard E-PACE is fully loaded with air con, heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors, rear camera, auto headlights and wipers, bluetooth, cruise control with speed limiter and a whole array of safety equipment.

If you want your Jaguar E-PACE to stand out from the crowd, opt for the R-Dynamic trim. It’ll set you back around £1,400 but you get a sporty look to the car plus sports seats with really smart stitching. It’s worth the extra few quid.

After that you can choose from various levels of specification including S, SE and HSE, depending on which engine you go for.

The S trim adds satellite navigation, chunkier alloys and leather upholstery.

In terms of engine choice, the entry level E-PACE comes with a four-cylinder 150PS diesel engine, which powers the front wheels only. We’d skip this one because you’d be better off with four-wheel drive. It helps in terms of the car’s handling.

We’d also go for a slightly more powerful engine. The 180PS diesel gives the car better performance, with 0-60mph taking around nine seconds, top speed of 128mph, yet you will still manage over 50mpg.

These are impressive figures. If you fancy even more power and more performance, there’s also a 240PS diesel engine.

If you want increased refinement, make a bee-line for the petrol engines. As with the diesel units, they all come with four cylinders and are turbocharged. They are available in 200PS, 250PS and 300PS power outputs. The latter is seriously quick, with 0-60 arriving in under six seconds.

All the engines are quiet and smooth.

It’s the usual conundrum for buyers: if you want economy, head for the diesels; if you want refinement, head for the petrol engines. Swings and roundabouts.

Our choice would be the 180PS diesel engine in S trim. It’s a car which will be economical, fun to drive, roomy and well equipped. Throw in good looks, excellent driving manners, comfortable seating and a seriously premium feel to the interior, you can see why Jaguar has high hopes for the E-PACE.