Jaguar’s Chequered Flag special edition adds a host of extra equipment and a unique colour palette to its compact performance SUV. But is it worth the extra outlay?
In May, 2019, Chequered Flag Editions were announced for the E-Pace compact SUV and its larger sibling, the F-Pace. It’s a high-end trim grade previously introduced on the XE and XF saloons and – in the case of the E-Pace – takes the top-spec R-Dynamic as a donor model and adds a host of extra equipment and a unique colour palette to its compact performance SUV.
Size-wise, the E-Pace is larger than an Audi Q3, smaller than the Q5, but in the flesh is closer in size to the BMW X2. Nevertheless, what is evidently clear is that no one will mistake the E-Pace for anything but a Jaguar cub.
The Chequered Flag is marked out from other E-Pace models by a host of performance and styling upgrades, as well as a unique colour palette.
Standard exterior kit on the Chequered Flag edition is a set of 19-inch alloys, a range of ‘Chequered Flag’ badges, a unique set of tread plates and a choice of four exclusive colours. Like the donor E-Pace R-Dynamic, it also comes with a sports body kit, twin tailpipes and LED headlights.
More noticeable is Jaguar’s ‘Black Pack’ – the replacement by gloss black of all the chrome brightwork, including the grille surround, side window trims, door claddings, roof rails, and side vents featuring a unique integrated Chequered Flag logo.
To keep costs and prices down, the chassis is primarily steel, but lightweight aluminium has been used for the roof, bonnet, front fenders and tailgate. Those measures reduce its overall mass, but the baby Jaguar still has too much baby fat. At 1,890kg, the E-Pace id 70kg heavier than its more aluminium-intensive brother, the F-Pace.
Inside, the exterior Chequered Flag theme continues when you open the doors and are greeted by model-specific sill plates. There’s an R-Dynamic sports steering wheel with black shift paddles, heated front seats clad in ebony grained leather with red stitching.
Just like inside a regular E-Pace, it’s all ergonomically appealing and Jaguar’s upgraded InControl infotainment system with its 10-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital driver’s display mark it out as being every inch a modern, premium SUV. The system includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The steering wheel adjusts four ways, while the front seats offer decent comfort and eight-way adjustability. Rear-seat passengers benefit from comfortable furniture and good legroom, although the fixed panoramic sunroof on the Chequered Flag may impinge on headroom slightly, depending on their height, of course.
D180 drivetrain and performance
Buyers have the choice of four engines for the E-Pace Chequered Flag, opening with Jaguar’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, producing 148hp and 380Nm of torque or 178hp/430Nm of torque (the D180 as tested). Both engines are mated to a ZF-sourced nine-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system.
Petrol options are also available, with Jaguar offering a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit in two states of tune - 197hp/320Nm and 246hp/365Nm. Both too, are paired with a nine-speed automatic gearbox and an all-wheel-drive system.
On the road
The E-Pace leans towards the sporty side of the dynamic driving spectrum, with a ride that's a little firmer than you would expect. That’s not to say the E-Pace is really sporty because you’re never too far away from being reminded of its bulky weight. While the steering is light and not particularly communicative to the fingertips, its accuracy is excellent.
The suspension setup does a great job of keeping the car flat through corners, which makes the E-Pace more enjoyable to drive on a twisty road than the Audi Q3, BMW X1 or Volvo XC40.
The Jaguar’s AWD system only comes into play if the electronic system senses extra grip is needed, meaning that the E-Pace behaves like a rear-wheel-drive car by default – although 100% of the engine’s power can be sent to the front wheels if needed.
Off the road
The E-Pace shares platforms with the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. While that gives it plenty of off-road breeding, it also means it differs from its traditional aluminium-intensive Jaguar siblings.
Courtesy of – and accompanied by – a local chicken farmer, am fortunate enough to have access to my own little off-road course and the baby Jag behaved impeccably throughout. With minimal suspension travel, the little SUV prefers to lift a wheel when things get really rough. However, its electronically-controlled all-wheel-drive system appeared nearly unflappable regardless of the task. Safe money says that if the ‘road’ has been crudely created, the E-Pace will confidently get you to your destination.
Jaguar is expecting buyers to step up to its newest offering by asking them to pay more for its E-Pace than its myriad of rivals – especially this rather pricey Chequered Flag version. While that may seem like a challenge, especially considering its tight rear quarters, there's more than enough substance in terms of technology, equipment and innovation to justify the choice.
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