When you slink into a Jaguar, you will know you are in a Jaguar. From the nose of the car which has the oh-so-familiar logo to the interiors, and if you are to start up a sporty F-Type, the engine roars to life.
The British car maker may be best known for their sporty vehicles, but it has more recently dipped its toes into SUVs for everyday use, the latest being the E-Pace.
The E-Pace is what can best be described as a crossover (SUV). It is a deviation from Jaguar’s line of traditional sports cars and sedans and locally is available in the S, SE and HSE versions which differentiates the entry level to the fully specked models as well as the choice between a diesel and petrol engine.
Now, I have to declare that I am not what would ideally be deemed a petrol head. But I do appreciate a car that offers both space, good handling and simplicity in manoeuvring. A car that can handle Kenyan road complete with their potholes, matatus and boda bodas.
The suspension system on the Jaguar E-Pace is adaptive which means they automatically adjust to the road conditions and driving style. And when you do hit a pothole, the impact does indeed feel much less in the car than when you are driving the mid-market SUVs.
But before we get into the driving, the Jaguar E-Pace comes complete with the trims and frills that remind you that it sits in the luxury category whilst maintaining its drivability factor for a “new” driver. The daylight running lights (both the front and back) come on as soon as you switch on the engine or take the vehicle out of parking gear.
The driver’s seat adjusts automatically when you are getting into or out of the car for easier access. It also has four seat memory options where you store the perfect sitting position for a drive. The steering wheel is fitted with the usual buttons as well as paddle gears that engage automatically when you touch them. The handbrake can also be set to auto disengage when you take the car out of parking and engage when you put it back in parking. For the road test, we take on the R Dynamic E-Pace two-litre petrol option. The R dynamic offers up a torque (pulling out power) rich engine and is better suited for those who are looking for more out of their SUVs.
According to Charles Oduor, the sales team leader at Inchcape Kenya, holders of the Jaguar Land Rover franchise, the market has near equal demand for diesel and petrol engines. However, diesel engines offer a better torque with better consumption while their petrol counterparts offer better power but a higher consumption rate.
“Torque is the pulling out power while power (as that of the petrol engine) is the ability to attain a certain speed” he explains. Both of which I come to understand when I get overly enthusiastic on the accelerator. The car jerks forward and you can feel yourself being pushed back into the seat as it picks up speed. The torque comes in handy when I need to take the U-turn on Nairobi’s Waiyaki Way at Eden Square to get across to Delta. The car zooms across with ease and without “hesitation” despite the busy lunch hour traffic.
It does zero to 62km/h in about six seconds and sits quite well on the road. This means none of that tail whip when you don’t slow down enough when taking a turn and also the dynamic suspension system means minimal sway inside the car—this is especially handy for those with car sickness.
The speed limiter, in addition to cruise control, is one of those features that you come to appreciate when you are in a zone with a speed limit. You set it from the controls on the steering wheel the car will automatically slow down and keeps you locked at that speed or lower no matter how hard you hit the accelerator. “Unlike cruise control, when you brake, the speed limiter does not turn off. You have to turn it off yourself,” Charles explains.
It is an All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) rather than a 4-wheel-drive so power is distributed to the wheels as is needed rather than half and half as is the case with 4WD.
The sensors around the four corners of the car notify you when an object is too close (the curb, another vehicle and yes those pesky boda bodas), complementing the fact that it is soundproof inside the car when all windows are rolled up. When you settle into the car and start the engine, you feel the seat gently adjust as do the mirrors, getting itself drive ready.
Aesthetically, the interiors are simple. It is fitted with the basics from charging slots to personalised passenger air conditioning. This vehicle includes a panoramic glass top that gives the illusion that it is more spacious.
It bounces off the heat but the light streams in full glare. The Meridian sound system is fitting and is connected for voice control/ activation from the buttons on the steering wheel. You can tune the radio, play music, make a call and request for navigation among others as is standard of modern day systems.
The rear seats allow for two car seats that can be strapped into the special safety slots or the safety belt. To facilitate rear facing car seats, the airbags for the passengers can also be switched off.
The boot space is smaller than expected but it does have compartments on the side as well as an extra power slot which can be used to connect a light during a camping trip.