Jaguar E-Pace debuts with a record-breaking barrel roll

Jaguar's first-ever SUV, the F-Pace, went on sale in 2016 and not just impressed the critics by winning the coveted 'World Car of the Year' title but also found favour with customers becoming the fastest-selling Jaguar ever. This, together with the XE entry luxury sedan that joined the lineup in 2014, has put the British brand on a clear growth trajectory. With all that momentum in its favour, Jaguar is on quite a roll. 

As if to symbolize that, the all-new E-Pace, Jag’s second-ever SUV, made its world debut in London performing a record-breaking roll. With professional stunt driver Terry Grand behind the wheel, the E-Pace completed a 15.3-meter long jump while doing a 270 degree barrel roll, thereby securing a Guinness World Record. Quite an entry, eh? But then, the F-Pace did something similar on its debut with a record-setting loop.

The E-Pace marks Jaguar's entry into the burgeoning compact SUV segment that currently has the likes of Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA vying for supremacy. Will the baby Jaguar, fondly referred to as 'The Cub' internally, create an impact in the segment? Let's see how 'The Good' and 'The Bad' stacks up, which would give us an idea.  

The Good

Jaguar coming up with an all-new model and we going gaga over its design has become a tradition now. Ian Callum, Jaguar's Design Director, and his team has been stroking one sensuous model after another and the gorgeous E-Pace is no exception. 

With minimal overhangs and long wheelbase, the stance is just perfect. The familiar fascia with the large trapezoidal grille and prominent air dams ensure you don't mistake the E-Pace for anything but a Jag. Viewed from the sides, Jaguar's smallest SUV shows off its most impressive curves. The muscular rear haunches, the intercepted shoulder line and the way in which the steeply-raked roof-line drops down to the taillight are beautiful and gel amazingly well. The rear, inspired by the stunning F-Type, deserves special mention as well.

Overall, the E-Pace just reaffirms the fact that Jaguar is in great form when it comes to design and styling. While we do not know how long this would last, all we can do is drool and relish as long as it lasts. 

The Bad

Powering the E-Pace are the 2.0-liter 'Ingenium' engines developed in-house by Jaguar Land Rover. The diesel is offered in three states of tune developing 148, 178 and 237 horsepower. The petrol engines offer two states of tune, a 246-horsepower base version and a 296-horsepower range-topper. Paired with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or the latest version of ZF's 9-speed automatic transmission, the E-Pace has enough grunt to match the big-selling, regular variants of its rivals.

But, the E-Pace does not have an answer to the performance variants - the Audi Q3 RS and the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG, both of which offer in excess of 360 horsepower. Yes, this is serious nit-picking but the point is when you have gone so far, why not go the full distance and offer something for the power-craving crowd as well?

The Good

Jaguars have always been considered a step below the three German luxury brands when it comes to interior appointments. With the E-Pace, Jaguar seems to have turned a page on that aspect. 

Those who have stepped in and sat inside the E-Pace are all praises for the dynamic, F-Type-inspired design and the quality of the materials used. Why wouldn't they be? After all, with the wraparound cockpit that surrounds the driver, the sea of soft touch materials employed, the latest-generation Touch Pro infotainment system featuring a 10-inch customizable touchscreen offering swipe, pinch and pan functions, the 12.3-inch HD full colour instrument panel and the full colour Head-Up Display, we would only be surprised if someone isn't impressed with what they see in here.

Jaguar has also paid excellent attention to details in the new E-Pace. How about a 'Jaguar and cub' imprint on the windshield to denote this is the baby Jag? Or a 'Chicane Line' that's an ode to the brand's racing heritage?

It's not just all show with the E-Pace, it's a practical family car as well. By pushing the wheels off to the four corners and increasing the distance between them, Jaguar has eked out more space inside despite the vehicle's small external footprint. Practicality is aided by nifty stowage compartments all around the cabin, a 577-litre boot, split-folding rear seats and as many as many as five USB ports and four 12-volt sockets.

The Good

When you pay as much as you would for an E-Pace, top notch safety is what you would expect. But when Jaguar claims the E-Pace gets the most advanced safety concept ever engineered by the brand, you got to take notice. 

The comprehensive restraint system aboard the E-Pace offers six airbags - driver, passenger, thorax and side curtain airbags in the cabin as well as a first-in-segment pedestrian airbag to cover the base of the windscreen. The safety suite on offer include Active Bonnet, Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Antilock Braking System (ABS), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Electronic Traction Control (ETC), Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Corner Brake Control (CBC) among others.  

The Bad

The F-Pace might be the fastest-selling Jaguar ever and the reason behind the brand's tremendous growth in 2017 but it's all set to lose the crown to the smaller and therefore more affordable E-Pace. Whilst that's not a bad thing by any stretch of imagination, the fact that Jaguar and Land Rover plants are already running at capacity is. If you are a potential customer, you still don't have to bother as Jaguar has entered into a contract manufacturing deal with Magna Steyr whose plant in Graz, Austria would be manufacturing the E-Pace. Of course, China gets their own version that would be made at the joint-venture facility of Chery and Jaguar Land Rover at Changshu.     

With four all-new models joining the lineup in as many years and more to come, including the promising full-electric I-Pace SUV, should Jaguar be thinking of investing in capacity expansion?

The Good

With the exception of the entry-level 148-horsepower diesel variant that's powered by the front wheels, the rest of the E-Pace range gets standard All Wheel Drive system (AWD) that's capable of channeling almost all the engine torque to the rear wheels in extreme conditions. The intelligent system is said to monitor driving conditions and calculate optimal torque distribution to the wheels every 10 milliseconds.

Also on offer is Jaguar's All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) which is basically a low-speed cruise control that works between 1.8 km/h and 30 km/h and can be engaged on any terrain. The system recognizes the surface underneath and exploits the available grip by adjusting the engine and brake settings. Be it snow, wet grass or mud tracks, the ASPC even works from a standstill, enabling the vehicle to get going without using the pedals and then maintain a steady, pre-set speed.

A brake-based Torque Vectoring system, aiding cornering and enhancing traction by working with the AWD system, is part of the kit as well. The E-Pace is a vehicle in which you wouldn't think twice before venturing off-road.

As you would have noticed, there is nothing really negative about the product as such and its debuting in a segment that's headed up and up. So, when the E-Pace goes on sale later this year, expect sales to shoot through the roof. The United Kingdom and select markets in Europe would get the baby Jag first towards the end of the year. Production in China is expected to start a year later. 

Given the craze for SUVs in India and the fact that the F-Pace is on sale here, its a matter of when and not if we would get to lay our hands on the E-Pace. Come on Jaguar, bring 'The Cub' on already!

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