Friday, September 7, 2018


As a 20-year veteran of working for Jaguar I never foresaw the day I would be reporting that two SUVs are basically the company's lifeguards, keeping Jaguar's sales results in positive territory.

The August sales results from the USA show that F-Pace continued to lead the brand’s performance with 1,124 units sold. The Jaguar E-Pace achieved its best month since its launch a few months ago.

In fact for the company, Jaguar Land Rover enjoyed a 12% sales increase Year-on-Year in the USA, thanks to the launch of the E-PACE (right), and the Range Rover Velar (below).

However, the USA team reports that total Jaguar sales for August were down 20% from a year ago. The dramatic fall-off in sales of XE, XF and XJ is described as “following industry trends”, however the American sales picture resembles the same results globally.

Australia’s sales report for August shows overall national sales YTD were down a mere 0.3%, so the market is maintaining the same vigor it enjoyed last year.

Jaguar Land Rover Australia’s sales for August are down 7.1% and YTD, down 14.2%. Jaguar sales alone, YTD August, were down almost 50%.

The three Jaguar sedans dragged JLR’s performance in Australia down dramatically, with XE down 55%; XF down 40% and XJ down 30%.

In its first month on sale E-PACE sold 645 units for a segment share of almost 6%.

By comparison the Range Rover Velar sold almost 1100 units for a segment share of 5%. So the eagerly-awaited new SUVs from JLR are providing the major lifeline for the company as buyers turn away from passenger cars to SUVs.

The E-PACE is right-sized for its target market – professional women, with one or two children.

The interior, though sombre, is sophisticated and elegant, with outstanding seats.

Despite the short wheelbase, the E-PACE is still able to provide useful stowage space behind the rear seats.

The equipment levels are good, with a new infotainment unit offering simple, intuitive controls.

That is unless you need to delve into vehicle dynamics and the whole thing becomes a ‘mystery trail’ using the menu/arrow keys on the steering wheel.

However, once on the move the chassis dynamics are typically Jaguar. Excellent handling precision, totally-sorted secondary ride, and pin-sharp responses to steering input. No complaints at all in that department.
Jaguar’s new Ingenium engines, both petrol and diesel are offered in E-PACE, but the petrol engine is a far better match with the ZF 9-speed auto.

The performance from both engines is good, considering their modest capacity, but the petrol is far more civilized around town.

If you live in the country, then the diesel will suit your conditions better.

The diesel is quiet at idle, but even with the flexibility offered by nine gear ratios in the superb ZF transmission, it can be caught out when you're accelerating suddenly in city driving.

Occasionally, when you tread on the gas, instead of dropping one ratio, it could drop two or three, which makes for a very 'jerky' response to just a simple acceleration manoeuvre.

Off-road is not this Jaguar's natural habitat; it's perhaps more suited to residential roaming - but in the wild, it's remarkably capable.

From a design perspective, I think most knowledgeable, and even amateur observers agree that Jaguar’s Design Director Ian Callum expresses a beautiful balance of line, perspective and refinement. The subtlety of the surfacing, and the preservation of Jaguar’s design DNA across every product from sports cars to sedans and the life-line SUVs, is 'perfetto'.

The car I drove featured only three extras - optional wheels, metallic paint and different headlining - and totaled AUD$67,000 (plus on-road costs); which given the highly competitive state of the compact/luxury SUV segment is good value, because the E-PACE delivers Jaguar levels of ride and handling, sophisticated design, outstanding fit’n’finish, and excellent choice of materials.

The standard audio system is excellent.

Jaguar's range of SUVs will soon be expanded with the all-electric i-PACE (to which I say, so what?); but it’s clear that strategically Ian Callum and the company management have expertly ‘read the tea leaves’ in the marketplace.

Which is a real pity, because the XE and XF are the best Jaguar sedans ever built and they deserve to be better appreciated.

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