Dodge race is on; new SUV, wagon for Jaguar

Clockwise from upper left: ’18 Jaguar E-Pace SUV, Dodge Charger Funny Car, ’18 Jaguar XF Sportbrake AWD Wagon, Dodge Challenger Scat Pack

While Dodge is running the big NHRA show at Bandimere (July 2018), I’m reviewing two new Jaguars – the E-Pace all-wheel-drive SUV and the long, slick-looking XF Sportbrake AWD wagon.

The side-glance to Dodge comes from a noon luncheon at Simms Steakhouse in Lakewood where the FCA performance division revealed two new race vehicles – the Challenger SRT Demon and Charger Hellcat Super.

They’re being featured at the three-day NHRA Nationals at Bandimere. It is the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar, in reference to that car company’s first year as title sponsor at the Bandimere Speedway.

Dodge Charger NHRA Funny Car driver Matt Hagan and Mopar Dodge Top Fuel pilot Leah Pritchett squared off between qualifying rounds.

Bandimere, a quarter-mile drag strip just west of C470, opened 60 years ago near Morrison and Lakewood.

Golden wheat and clouds are backdrop for 2018 Jaguar E-Pace SUV.

In regards to the new Jaguar E-Pace P250 SE, even with its heavy weight of 4,220 pounds it slipped into the luxury subcompact SUV classification and competes with the Volvo XC40, BMW X2, Mercedes GLA-Class, Range Rover Evoque and Infiniti QX30, among others.

It sits on a wheelbase of 105.6 inches, is 173 inches in overall length, 74.8 wide and 64.9 high. Its relatively wide track is 64.4 inches in front and 64.3 at the rear. Cargo space behind the rear seats is 24 cubic feet.

Positive comments were heard from many of those seeing the E-Pace for the first time, not only a credit to its style but also its azure blue finish which at times seemed almost a purple tint.

The E-Pace carried Jan and me to Strasburg for celebration of the 7th birthday of great-granddaughter Ava Zink. The Jag, on its return, showed good grip in the rain which deposited fairly deep water on the roadways to the northwest, then onto Colo.  52 at Prospect Valley. It is a fairly rough rider at times.

Performance comes from a 2.0-liter, 246-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine with 9-speed automatic transmission. A bit of hesitation on takeoffs was routine; the Jaguar moved with more pep when the dynamic drive mode was engaged. The E-Pace delivered an overall fuel-mileage average of 25.4. EPA estimate is 21/28. It rides on Pirelli Scorpion Zero 245/45R20 tires. Suspension components are struts, coils and antiroll bars in front, with multilink at the rear.

The interior niceties of the E-Pace aren’t up to Jaguar standards; neither, though, is the sticker price. From a base of $45,295, it climbed to $54,190. A nice feature on exiting the four-door were puddle-lamp silhouettes of a jaguar and its cub projected onto the ground.

If the E-Pace is a subcompact, one look at the elongated roofline of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake wagon tells you this is a midsizer which competes with the Mercedes E-Class wagon, the Volvo V90 and Buick Regal TourX.

The XF Sportbrake is Jaguar’s first wagon since the X-Type was discontinued nine years ago.

The XF Sportbrake is considerably larger than the E-Pace. The new wagon measures 116.5 inches in wheelbase, 195 in overall length, 78.2 wide and 58.9 high, with curb weight of 4,145 pounds, a bit lighter than E-Pace.

It has a sloping hood, the long roof and raked rear glass. Staying with its sleek image, the Sportbrake runs on low-profile 35s – Pirelli Cinturato 255/35R20 tires.

Wagons have long been popular in Europe; not so here, though the new Sportbrake and V90 with AWD might lure a few SUV devotees. Jaguar’s last wagon before the Sportbrake was the X-Type, which ended production in 2009.

Performance is a highlight from the Sportbrake’s 380-horsepower, supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Drive-mode selection allows the driver to adapt from normal response to dynamic or economical or adapt to what is being faced in the way of surface conditions. The shifter is a twist dial on the center console.

This car does have a spare, though the wheel is bright orange hidden beneath the cargo floor and it will not match up with the fancy wheels and red brake calipers of original equipment, i.e. get the flat fixed quickly.

Inside the big Jag are white leather seats with black inserts, panoramic roof and motorized covers for closing the dashboard air vents. Cargo space behind the rear seat is a roomy 31.7 cubic feet.

This classy-looking wagon with its power and amenities doesn’t come in the cheaper category of the E-Pace. Sticker on the Sportbrake jumped to $84,245 from a base of $70,450.

Adding $3,495 was a driver-assistance package of adaptive cruise control and speed limiter, 360-degree parking aid, surround camera, blind-spot and park assist. Adding another $3,285 were navigation, Meridian surround sound and interactive driver display. For $2,890 came the four-zone climate control, suedecloth premium headliner, ambient lighting and rear sunblind. That left $1,805 for the heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and soft door-close.

I averaged 22 miles per gallon of premium fuel with the XF Sportbrake, close to the middle of its EPA estimate of 18/25.

Dodge Challenger

Dodge Charger.