Cruising Through Corsica in the Cool New E-Pace

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drove off in a Jaguar E-Type after their historic wedding it was no accident; much like the monarchy itself, the Jaguar marque represents British heritage, luxury, impeccable style and good breeding. But in an appeal to modern times the E-Type had been converted to electric power, and Jaguar also faces the challenge of keeping up with contemporary requirements without losing sight of the things that made it an icon in the first place.

Therefore their sports cars and luxury sedans, while remaining immensely popular, have now been joined by a compact SUV, the new E-PACE and even an electric SUV, the I-PACE, making its debut as a 2019 model. The E-PACE, Jaguar’s first ever compact SUV, is bound to find a place in the hearts and garages of those who seek the perfect marriage (sorry, Harry) of performance and convenience, a a practical and connected all-wheel-drive vehicle that delivers the design excellence for which Jaguar has justly become famous in a compelling package.

Said design is inspired by the amazing F-Type, Jaguar’s pulse-quickening sports car that’s the heir to the E-Type’s design and DNA. Bold, sweeping lines, a powerful stance, confident profile and dynamic appearance in general indicate that the E-PACE isn’t your ordinary scaled-down SUV. The five-seater is also a technological marvel, with streaming for up to eight devices via an optional 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. The InControl Touch Pro infotainment system features a 10-inch touchscreen connecting owners to smartphone applications via the InControl Apps function.

Also available are large 12.3-inch full color TFT driver display and Head-Up Display systems, as well as Configurable Dynamics technology allowing customers to personalize throttle, steering and transmission settings. There are two efficient four-cylinder engine options producing 246 HP and 296 HP respectively, each mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-liter Ingenium engines were designed in-house by Jaguar Land Rover and produced at the company’s £1 billion Engine Manufacturing Center in the UK. But the very best feature may be the price, as you get all this for a base sticker of $38,600, a number that is bound to give the competition conniptions.

Also optional are 21-inch alloy wheels, one of nine available wheel options, and the E-PACE can be specified in 11 exterior colors. Inside the vehicle the sensual experience continues: soft trimmed door casings with satin chrome door handles, “Noble Chrome” details and a posh leather-clad fascia and optional Windsor leather seat upholstery with twin-needle stitching being the focal points of the wraparound cockpit. And the pilot’s elevated “Sports Command” driving position is an enviable one.

“Creating a dynamic, modern and relevant interior continues the promise of the E-PACE’s exterior character as soon as the doors are opened,” notes Alister Whelan, Creative Director, Jaguar Interiors. “The soft, high-quality materials used throughout the cabin are the first ‘handshake’ with the customer, while charming British detail design leaves a lasting memory. The E-PACE interior design raises the bar for the compact performance SUV.”

We had a chance to put this to the test on a spirited drive of the E-PACE through the unspoiled scenery of Corsica, the famed island in the Mediterranean that belongs to France but retains its unique character. Sinuous roads climb through stylish coastal towns, dense forests and craggy peaks, the perfect backdrop for the E-PACE’s considerable accomplishments. Rarely have comfort and agility been so capably blended without watering down either one or the other.

“With the E-PACE, our aim was to develop a Jaguar SUV that feels and responds with the character of any of our rear-wheel drive vehicles,” as Mike Cross, Jaguar’s Chief Engineer of Vehicle Integrity, puts it. “It was fundamental to us that E-PACE delivers exceptional drive dynamics yet is refined and comfortable. Here is an all-wheel-drive compact performance SUV that has the precision and body control to make the E-PACE as rewarding for the driver as it is comfortable for the passengers.”

Of course, the E-PACE underwent extremely rigorous testing in far less hospitable environments than Corsica to ensure our driving experience, and that of all buyers, is a beautiful one. From Germany’s legendary Nürburgring circuit and Italy’s high-speed Nardò test track to the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa, the E-PACE passed all its tests with flying colors.

“Jaguar engineers and dynamics specialists have meticulously developed the driveline to work in harmony with the E-PACE’s chassis and stability systems,” Graham Wilkins, Chief Program Engineer, Jaguar E-PACE, says. “Months of tuning and calibration work on proving grounds, test facilities and public roads around the world have helped our engineers to deliver a fully capable compact SUV with Jaguar’s trademark driving DNA.”

Obviously, all that counts for nothing if it doesn’t turn a few heads as well, and even in off-season Corsica the E-PACE managed to do that without causing a scene. Corsica is an incredible place in any conveyance but experiencing it behind the wheel of the E-PACE was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Jaguar’s original founder, the esteemed Sir William Lyons, may never have envisioned anything like a compact SUV, but we’re sure he’d be extremely proud of this one.