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Crossing Over: with Grace, Space, and Pace

Jaguar’s “Leaping Cat” Adorns a Crossover, While Japan delivers an Infinitely New Experience

Both a Jaguar and an Infiniti crossover in one article?! It’s a new world and two manufacturers mainly known for fast sedans are turning the crossover (a/k/a, small sport-utility vehicle) world on its head with style, panache, and high-tech flash. 

Grace, Space, and Pace

Jaguar’s founder, Sir William Lyons espoused “grace, space, and pace” as the benchmark attributes for his automobile marque. “Wild Bill” would be pleased with his company’s newest offering, the versatile 2018 Jaguar E-Pace. As a smaller sibling to the F-Pace, the E-Pace offers every bit of its big brother’s sharp styling and London flair, yet in a package geared toward the buyer who wants something easier to pilot around than the F-P. Jaguar hit a home run with the F-P, so when it comes to design, it’s no surprise that the E-Pace looks like a scaled-down F-Pace. Up front is a sporty crosshatch grille that sits between the “cat’s-eye” headlamps. The window line is more reminiscent of a coupe than a sport-ute, and these elements harmonize perfectly with a classy, not-too-cluttered tailgate. In short, it’s a modern, urban-stylish design that looks great either after a fresh detailing or a muddy romp through winter streets. 

The Jaguar’s four-cylinder engine pumps out 246 horsepower in base trim and 296 in the E-Pace R-Dynamic. An all-wheel-drive system throws the power to the pavement via a nine-speed automatic transmission. Speaking of the R-Dynamic, in addition to more “go,” there’s a revised AWD system, more aggressive bodywork, 18-inch wheels, an even more luxurious interior, and automatic parking assistance for those tight spots. Even a base E-Pace will give you lane-keeping assistance and LED headlamps—making this vehicle a value when compared to some of its competition. 

Yes, It’s A “Real” Jag

The E-Pace is a delight to drive and the turbo engine never seems to suffer a lack of low-end grunt. This frugal-on-fuel power plant has enough strength on tap to hustle the E-P around, both on road and off. For those who question if it’s a “real Jag,” the base E-P sprints to 60 mph from a rest in only 6.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 143 mph! “The E-Pace as compared to the F-Pace is a bit more of a sports car than an SUV. I know it’s a bit tough to imagine an SUV as a sports car but it is a Jaguar,” says Thom Buckley, President and Partner of Red Noland Auto Group. What isn’t typical is a highway miles-per-gallon figure of 24 and a city mpg number of 21. This cat doesn’t lap-up gas, it merely sips it. 

The 2018 Jaguar E-Pace proves that Jaguar, as a brand, can run with the “young guns” in the hotly-contested crossover market by way of a decades-old commitment to grace, space, and pace…repackaged for the coming decade and beyond.

To Infiniti, Via Germany

If the Infiniti salesperson is smart, you’d be informed in the first stages of any conversation that the new-for-’19 QX50 is based on a Mercedes-Benz. That’s right, Nissan’s upmarket label, Infiniti, has a new crossover that isn’t based on a Nissan, but on a Benz. Yet, this union only yields positive results, as anyone who has spent time with the 2019 QX50 will tell you.  

The exterior is a fresh take on Infiniti’s “bionic cheetah” design language for its line of SUVs. The front has a large, chrome-framed grille, the sides have rather aggressive sculpting, and in the rear, the “kink” in the aft pillar serves to smoothly integrate the rear windscreen. The exterior is punctuated by chrome “jewelry” for the ersatz air intake ahead of the doors and the bright stuff even spans the tailgate—tastefully. 

Indulgence, the Japanese Way

Inside the 2019 QX50, it’s leather, high technology, and a sense of purpose. The perforated-hide thrones boast a diamond pattern that would look at home in a Bentley, and your fingers control a navigation system with a gnarled chrome dial that also looks to be swiped from a car costing hundreds of thousands more. One’s eyes are further treated when looking ahead: there’s a display projected in front of the driver on the windshield, with speed and other relevant information; directly above is a panoramic, glass roof. Color displays are everywhere, just like in a Mercedes, with the navigation, instruments, and general control interfaces glittering like a mobile Las Vegas. 

The QX50 is propelled by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder motor that produces 268 ponies. The engine is something of a pioneering celebrity in the auto world. “It’s no surprise that the engineers at Infiniti have come up with an innovative engine; the world’s first variable compression internal combustion unit, that provides not only impressive performance, but also greater fuel efficiency. At our altitudes, this engine is going to be a game changer,” says Buckley. The QX50’s gas engine offers fuel consumption figures once only found in diesels: we’re talking around 27 mpg for a front-drive QX (26 mpg for the AWD version). This genius of a power mill is mated to a continuously variable transmission that Infiniti claims is one of the smoothest available. 

Some car brands wither on the vine (hello, Saturn and Saab) and some change and adapt to new circumstances. Jaguar and Infiniti are the latter and they’re not giving up the fight against boring “people movers.” It’s undeniably a new era: Jaguar’s E-Pace and Infiniti’s QX50 are prophetic of good times ahead for luxury vehicles in the coming “roaring ‘20s.”