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Juliet McGuire

First Drive in the Jaguar E-Pace

I will start this review with a confession: I don’t know anyone who knows less about geography than I do. Seriously though! I do not know the difference between a country, a city or a town and I certainly don’t know where any place is in conjunction to another. As you can imagine, I was so excited when I received an invite to attend the Jaguar E-Pace launch in Corsica. “Oh my gosh, I have been dying to go to Greece,” I thought. Imagine my surprise when we flew over the Swiss Alps and in to France. Ok I am only kidding, I had Googled “Corsica, Greece” the minute I got the invite and the ever-pleasing search engine corrected my ignorance.

Here are some amazing things about Corsica, besides the fact that it’s not in Greece. It’s the most incredible mix of both tranquil coastline and majestic mountains. 300 000 people inhabit this island and are probably some of the most creative people on the planet, especially when it comes to food, art, film and music. Its people cherish a fiercely independent identity after France conquered Corsica in 1795. The celebrate their deep-rooted traditions while also embracing their creativity and innovation.

So, it is not surprising that Jaguar chose to launch its first compact SUV, the E-Pace, on this gorgeous island. Trying to picture the E-Pace, are you? Well think of the F-Pace and shrink it (or you can just relook at the featured image of this article and the other pics below). The striking E-Pace is a five-seat compact SUV with a sporty edge – wait a minute, just about every car manufactured is described as “sporty”. Sporty in design, sporty in performance, sporty in the fact that it will appeal to an ‘active family’. What is ‘sporty” really? The E-Pace is certainly not a sports car, but it has elements of the F-Type which can be considered a sports car, so we will give it the benefit of the doubt here and allow it this once, but just this once though!

I am not going to go in to the design of the car as I imagine if you are reading this you have eyes for yourself and can see exactly what the car looks like. I will say, however, that I think it is a dashing looking thing and the more time I spent with it, the more I grew to love its handsome looks. (Just a brief note here, I will try my best not to personify the cars I review, but I can’t promise that a few won’t slip through).

In terms of space, a compact SUV can be tricky. It’s got the word “compact” and the word “SUV” in its title, which is a bit contradictory, right? You always wonder which way each new compact SUV is going to sway. Will it be more compact? Or will be more SUV-like? The E-Pace is one which I like to call “sneaky.” This is because it looks like it is going to sway to the compact side but when you get in it you feel swallowed up by the amount of space. The dashboard has a lot to do with this, it appears enormous. But even if you hop in to the rear you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of leg room. Brownie points for the E-Pace!

The E-Pace is not a light little guy. In fact, it has been built on a different platform to that of the F-Pace, which sits on top of the XE and XF platforms, whereas the E-Pace shares that of the Discovery Sports which is heavier. Could this be a reason the engines lack oomph? Possibly, but you can refer to a more technical review of the car if you really need to know the answer. All I know is, both the S D240 and the S P300 we drove around the enchanting island weren’t as responsive as one would hope. I suspect the 9-speed transmission played a major role in this as well as it seemed unsure as which gear to select. You know the saying “too much choice is not a good thing”? (I don’t actually know whether that is a saying or not, but it rings very true here.) The ‘box would take a moment to search for the right gear and at times seemed to get itself a bit confused. On the bright side, if you drive like most of the people in the slow lane in Cape Town, you won’t have any problems. It’s only when you need to give it horns does it struggle slightly.

Cruising along the coast of Corsica (a moment for how cool that sounds please) in the E-Pace was a moment I will not forget. Even if I couldn’t find a comfortable driving position. But this I can tell you is not Jaguar’s fault as the seats have every sort of adjustment possible; you can just about turn it inside out. I just couldn’t quite find my happy place. I blame my height and small feet.
You have everything you need in this car, all the tech you can think of. Even the base models throw in some exciting stuff like a Touch Pro infotainment system, LED headlights and a rear view camera system as well as advanced driver assistance systems including cruise control and speed limiter, front and rear parking aid and emergency braking – which believe me came in very handy along the very narrow and windy roads of Corsica. Pricing starts at R598 500 and goes up to R892 400 for the top spec E-Pace.

There are so many great things about this car, besides the badge. I predict these are going to sell like hotcakes in South Africa, just look at the success of the F-Pace. As soon as it hits our shores, which will be in March, go and take this cub for a spin and tell me you aren’t impressed. We can even bet on it!

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