Steering the E-Pace in the right direction
My opinion from the passenger’s seat now is that if I were configuring an E-Pace, I’d certainly need the adaptive dampers and Active Driveline to make the best of this car’s highest power option, and I wouldn’t be too happy without shift paddles, either.
We talk steering, an esoteric subject given that this is a ride, not a drive. But I’ve been impressed by the way this car seems to need a minimum of fiddling at the wheel-rim and also requires little effort, even in tight corners taken hard. Cross says he and his team tend to configure their cars with the light-ish effort that suits their own style, then add effort for the overtly sportier setting some drivers prefer. Nothing wrong with low-effort steering, Cross insists, as long as it’s informative, uncorrupted and accurate.
These things come together in a succession of hard corners – the compact exterior, the short body overhangs, the side-support of the seats, the well-damped suspension, the all-wheel drive grip and traction and the rear-drive tendencies enhanced near the limit by torque vectoring.
This car feels neat, fast, safe, dependable. It’s one of those ‘complete’ modern cars whose high performance can be deployed in all conditions – which goes back to Callum’s observation about this being a sports car for people with other things going on in their lives.
Jaguar will be selling this car soon but, despite its relationship with the Evoque and Discovery Sport, it can’t be made in Halewood because its siblings continue to use up all the capacity. This Jaguar will come from that jack-of-all-trades manufacturer Magna Steyr in Graz (which has also built Mercs, Minis and Astons in its time) and will also be made in China.
In the olden days when car companies were regarded as national emblems, this might have been a concern to some of the old school. It should not be. Wherever this E-Pace is made, it’s a British car and a proper Jaguar. We’ve just proved it.
CHALLENGING WHAT A JAGUAR SHOULD BE
“No, I didn’t…” says Jaguar design boss Ian Callum when asked if he ever thought Jaguar would be in a position where it could soon be selling more SUVs than saloons.
Like the F-Pace before it, the E-Pace challenges the idea of what a Jaguar can be – the upcoming electric I-Pace even more so. But they all still feel right, something Callum describes as coming about “from the transition from sports car to SUV”.
To that end, he points to the role of the F-Type in giving Jaguar the licence to go out and make SUVs. As long as it has a sports car in its range, it can claim to credibly be a sports car company, no matter how many SUVs it sells.
Much like Porsche with the Cayenne and Macan, it’s the 911 that gives those cars the credibility and the licence for Porsche to go out and make them.
Callum says: “When I first came to Jaguar, which was before even the first Porsche Cayenne, I was asked if I would do an SUV. I said no, it was not in our DNA, as it wasn’t in the purity of being a sports car company.