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Friday - 25 September 2020

I before E, except after F

Jaguar E-PACE review New Zealand

As far as I recall, school was full of mnemonic rhymes to remember important things. ‘Thirty Days have September…’, ‘Minus times minus is plus, the reason for this we need not discuss’, When two vowels go walking, the first does the talking, and of course ‘I before E except after C’ (I’m sure there are plenty more). Anyway, Jaguar’s new SUV the E-PACE has caused a little confusion in the market by their use of the prefix letter E, so maybe school mnemonics can help.

You see, E has become a bit of a thing for EV’s (Electric Vehicles), therefore any vehicle that sports this vowel, to all intents and purposes, must have a battery bigger than a house brick (and probably come with a charging lead), so E-PACE is an EV right? Wrong, it’s powered, albeit frugally, by petrol or diesel. But that’s not the end of it, to confuse matters further, soon(ish), Jaguar are bringing out an Electric version of their SUV line-up and this will be named I-PACE – which as we all know has a vowel synonymous with a smartphone – Damn those marketers conditioning us!

Anyway, let’s take a breath, hit the reset button and pretend that vehicle names are just simply that, names. The E-PACE is the smaller ‘cub’ to Jaguar’s incredibly successful F-PACE and as far as I’m aware, the ‘E’ doesn’t stand for anything in particular, it just comes before F (so is smaller, like the XE is to the XF). In actual fact the E-PACE draws a lot of its looks and performance from the F-Type which really (pardon the pun), puts the cat amongst the pigeons – I think my head hurts.

To help me get things sorted, Jaguar NZ gave me their E-PACE for a week-long review. I had been given a taste of what the more compact SUV had on offer at the New Zealand launch several weeks ago, so I was looking forward to having the chance for a follow-up review, and I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint.

Aesthetically the E-PACE grabs plenty of attention. If you were to restrict your view of the SUV from the centre line up, it could be easily mistaken for its sportscar sibling. The headlights are bold and sleek, it has an unmistakable Jaguar grille and strong, muscular hindquarters. There is an athletic poise to its form that doesn’t look out of place when morphed into an SUV – I think the vehicle’s big ‘paws’ help.

Inside, it’s all leather and chrome, with a cabin that is very driver-centric (whatever that means). The 10” touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use and ‘app friendly’, while all the other dials and buttons are almost therapeutic to the touch. The ‘First Edition’ I was given the keys to, came fully optioned with a full-length glass panoramic roof and a whole raft of treats to make my driving experience simply joyful (especially the normally arduous commute) but it was out in the wilds of West Auckland that really had me hooked.

The E-PACE has a playfulness about it, which is very in keeping with its ‘cublike’ appeal. There is a sense of fun when driving, and even more so when playfully biting the sharp turns and off cambers that make up Scenic Drive. There is plenty of rubber to ensure vehicle to road contact remains true and the petrol ‘Ingenium’ engine emits a self-assured roar that is incredibly endearing, especially at higher revs.

Although it’s a ‘compact’, there is oodles of space for a small family to go about its weekly togetherness and the cabin comes with plenty of places to hold your flat white and water bottles for those more sporty amongst us.

The E-PACE is an ideal vehicle to follow on from the larger and more mature F-PACE and will almost certainly attract a lot of attention in this even increasingly popular segment, paving the way for the EV model next. Yes the nameplate is a little confusing but try to remember it like this: It’s I before E except after F!

For more on Jaguar, click here.

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