F-Pace-lite? Not quite.
When Jaguar first announced that it would be going into the SUV game back in 2015, it was met with the same sort of backlash as Porsche faced when it announced the Cayenne about a decade earlier, though the fury was also mixed with a little confusion. Not only was Jaguar about to dilute the value of the leaping cat, but it was also about to squeeze sister-brand Land Rover, considering that the two have always coexisted harmoniously with Jag doing cars and Land Rover doing SUVs.
While we would have assumed that that relationship would have gotten that little bit more complicated now that Jag’s got SUVs, the two brands appear to still be coexisting happily. That happiness could be at risk though because Jaguar’s got its sights trained on the Range Rover Evoque with this, the E-Pace. Built with the same underpinnings as the baby Range Rover and powered by the same engines, the E-Pace does promise one thing that its sibling cannot: Unrivalled Jaguar driving ability.
Available in our market in E-Pace, E-Pace S, SE, and HSE trims, does the E-Pace deliver on that promise, despite its hefty weight and aged underpinnings?
"All style and no trousers?" – TopGear UK
Where the bigger F-Pace drew inspiration from the Jaguar XF, the company saw an opportunity to have a little fun with the E-Pace, given the reception that its target audience tends to afford cars that dare to be different. So rather than shrinking the F-Pace to fit (the way Volvo did with the XC90 to result in the XC60), the E-Pace drew inspiration from the F-Type sports car instead. As such, it wears a suit that is distinct to the F-Pace yet recognisable as a Jaguar in all the right ways, and we have to say, we like it quite a bit.
Despite the pert dimensions, the E-Pace holds itself well, which isn’t something that can be said about some cars in this segment (like the first-generation BMW X1). It looks athletic and poised, like a cat waiting to pounce (you knew this analogy was coming). In photos it actually looks bigger than it is: This is a contender to the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA, and you’d better believe it.
At the rear, it’s a bit more familiar territory, with slim taillights and the ‘chicane’ rear light guides that are a gentle nod to the F-Type sports car (which in turn doffed its hat to the E-Type). See why we think this looks like a thoroughbred Jag?
Engine & Drivetrain
“As far as engine size goes, there is one choice: Two litres.” — CarsGuide
For the E-Pace, Jaguar has supplied just two four-cylinder Ingenium mills, in petrol and diesel guises. However, there are five versions between them, with the diesel available in two states of tune (D150, D180, and D240) while the petrol comes in two forms (P250 and P300).
The D150 is the base engine, offered on every model. The 2.0-litre oiler here puts out 110kW and 380Nm, with a nine-speed automatic gearbox and permanent all-wheel drive as standard. The century sprint time for the D150 is clocked at 9.9-seconds, with a claimed fuel consumption average of 6.5L/100km.
Step up to the D180 and you get a bit more power. 132kW and 430m, to be exact. That drops the century sprint time to 8.7-seconds, despite the fuel consumption not rising at all. The top-spec D240 however offers up a properly meaty 177kW and 500Nm, with the century sprint covered in just 7-seconds. Fuel consumption for the D240 is rated at 7.2L/100km.
On to the petrols. The P250 offers up 183kW and 365Nm, again with the same standard 9-speed auto and permanent all-wheel drive. The century sprint here is completed in 6.6-seconds, though it does consume 9.5L/100km while it does so.
The top-spec P300 is, as suggested, the top-dog in the engine lineup, with a rather impressive 221kW and 400Nm. The century sprint here then drops to 5.9-seconds, which will easily make you grin, but beast’s worth bearing in mind that its claimed fuel consumption figure is noted at 9.7L/100km. Good luck achieving that in the real world.
As said earlier, all cars get a 9-speed automatic ZF transmission, as well as standard permanent all wheel drive. As an option, you can spec on an Active Driveline which permits the E-Pace to run only its front wheels most of the time, with the rear wheels coming on when needed, and power shuffling between the axles depending on the situation.
“It’s a clean and handsome layout that’s surprisingly user-friendly.” — WhatCar? UK
Like how the exterior is derived from the F-Type sports car, the same can be said of the cabin. With a passengers-side grab handle and an angled centre stack, only the driving position betrays the SUV reality. You sit surprisingly high up in the E-Pace, a stark differentiation from its competitors where they want you to feel as hemmed-in as possible. Everything falls very easily to hand, and all-round visibility is great, though the latter can be improved further with the optional 360º camera system.
The centre stack is dominated by the 10-inch TouchPro infotainment screen, which sits nicely beneath the air-conditioning vents. We quite like the HVAC controls with their screens set within the dials, and we’re glad that the rotary gear selector, a novelty from the 1st-generation XF that hung on a bit too long, has been swapped out for a meaty new gear lever. Everything looks crisp, sharp, and well thought out, including the shortcut buttons set beneath the touchscreen that allow you to access certain functions easily.
Digital dials are saved only for the top-spec model, though the standard dial-and-screen combination is pretty clear and pleasing enough. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is nice to hold with fine-grain leather, though the interior plastics in other places can get a bit dodgy, just like its Range Rover Evoque sibling. It’s no Volvo XC40 or Audi Q3, we’ll say that much.
Behind The Wheel
“What can be stated from driving the E-Pace in Corsica is that they do put the ‘Sport’ back into ‘Sports Utility Vehicle.’” — Motoring
The E-Pace may be a Range Rover Evoque in an Ian Callum-designed frock, but from behind the wheel, you wouldn’t dare call it anything less than a Jaguar. We haven’t the slightest clue how Jaguar has retained its superbly connected, sensational steering, or how they’ve made the portly and heavy E-Pace dance through corners, but it does. It throws its weight around a little bit when you’re really shuffling, but if you’re just blasting down a B-road just a bit faster than normal, you won’t feel it.
The nine-speed ZF automatic employed in the E-Pace is a wonderful match for the Ingenium mills under the bonnet, keeping the car on song and delivering power when needed (and conversely, keeping the engines running quietly and almost imperceptibly in the background). The diesel mill does a good job at delivering its torque smoothly in ‘Sport’ mode, and compliments the E-Pace’s capabilities as a motorway cruiser.
However, if you’re odd and think a modern diesel still isn’t refined enough for your exacting tastes (or if you don’t think there’s enough power on offer), you can opt for one of the Ingenium petrol mills. Willing to rev, effortlessly smooth, and rather rorty to listen to, the E-Pace feels just as suited to run on unleaded as it is on oil, and it enjoys the slightly lighter nose. Admittedly though, a petrol mill in an E-Pace will end up costing you in the long run if you do lots of miles, because the petrol engines have a freaky ability to tempt you constantly to misbehave behind the wheel.
When you’re not busy working the E-Pace to the bone, you’ll find a resolved ride, a hushed cabin, and realise that the ‘cub’ in the Jaguar range is entirely capable of being a calm mile muncher too. Just, only for four, because a fifth adult wedged in the middle of the rear bench would be complaining sooner rather than later.
Safety & Technology
“Jaguar has very kindly fallen into lock-step with Land Rover in its model structuring, which means a very, very complex model lineup…” — CarsGuide
Okay, so there are four models in the range like we said earlier: E-Pace, S, SE, and HSE. Each model is standard with the D150 entry-level diesel, though a more powerful D180 oiler, or a P250 petrol is available. There’s an even gruntier D240 oiler available from S models and upwards, while the most powerful P300 petrol is limited only for SE and HSE models. Got it? Cool.
So with the standard E-Pace, you’ll get tech like dual-zone climate control, all-round parking sensors, lane-keep assist, reverse camera, and a safety package that includes front autonomous emergency braking (AEB). There’s also a 10-inch touchscreen which we mentioned earlier, and a standard stereo with 125W of power.
Move up to the S, and standard kit adds LED headlights, electrochromatic rear view mirrors, powered and heated folding mirrors, electric seats up front, satellite navigation, WiFi hotspot capability, rear cross-traffic alert, and automated parking.
SE models add to that the signature LED daytime running lights up front, intelligent high beam assistance, adaptive cruise control, motorway-speed AEB, blind-spot monitoring, a powered tailgate, and 14-way electrically-adjustable front seats.
And if you splurge on an HSE, you get to enjoy additional luxuries like keyless boot operation, keyless entry and go, 18-way adjustable front pews (like 14 wasn’t enough), digital instrumentation ahead of the driver, as well as a 380W Meridian Audio sound system.
For an additional $4500-$6240 depending on grade, you can also add an R-Dynamic package that makes the Jaguar cub look that much angrier, with more aggressive bumpers on either end, a gloss-black front grille, paddle-shifters on the steering wheel, and a host of other things. Oh, and the requisite smattering of ‘R-Dynamic’ badges.
As is traditional with a Jaguar (or Land Rover) product, there is a ridiculously long options list that includes things like LED headlights with adaptive beam, privacy glass, DAB digital radio (yeah, that’s not standard), and an activity key. To simplify things, Jaguar has organised some options packs like Cold Climate, Drive, Park, and Performance Pack, as well as a Smartphone Pack which doesn’t include a smartphone.
The Jaguar E-Pace was given a full 5-star safety rating by independent adjudicators ANCAP, and was noted for its excellent occupant protection.
The E-Pace might only be Jag’s second crack at the SUV space, but it doesn’t seem to have any of those first-go foibles that you’d expect. Instead, the E-Pace comes off as polished, composed, poised and ready, more like what you’d expect of a Range Rover. However, while there may be an Evoque hiding beneath that F-Type-inspired face, the E-Pace is a distinctly Jaguar experience throughout, with an engaging drive and a range of well-behaved engines that complement the chassis beautifully.
In a space that’s been dominated mostly by Germans, the E-Pace throws a bit of new Britannia in there to spice things up. Sure, it’s not as commodious in the rear as something like a BMW X1, but it’s also more engaging than the Beemer. And the E-Pace is definitely more of an SUV than the Mercedes-Benz GLA, that’s for sure. That said, we reckon the baby Jag does have a formidable rival in this space, just as new as itself, in the form of the Volvo XC40.
Time will tell which of the two is the better bet, but in isolation, there’s no doubt that the E-Pace is one hell of a car. It drives well, it looks good, it’s got a decent amount of kit, and it has the lustre and allure of a leaping cat on the bonnet. In the range, we’re definitely torn between the S and SE, though we’d definitely option on a diesel mill. The D150 is fine, but the D180 is the best available.
CarsGuide — 7.4/10 — “From a challenging first drive, the Jaguar E-Pace has proved itself a sporty proposition as well as a stylish one. Whether it can tempt you away from the obvious choices is now really down to the badge.”
Motoring — 86/100 — “Jaguar’s new cub will deliver competitors a severe mauling.”
CarAdvice — 7.9/10 — “Jaguar’s latest effort has a lot going for it; Proper good looks, genuinely capable handling, and a beautifully-crafted cabin. Better than the F-Pace, even.”
Wheels Magazine — 8.0/10 — “The E-Pace is a pretty compelling proposition, with neat exterior design, an F-Type-inspired interior and enough space for family duties. Despite a disappointing kerbweight, the E-Pace feels agile and engaging to drive quickly, though the top-spec petrol’s pricing throws it under the wheels of the Mercedes GLA 45 AMG – a rival that offers significantly more bang for your buck.”
TopGear UK — 8.0/10 — “Jaguar’s little crossover aims to storm a competitive set with F-Type inspired looks inside and out, and an engaging drive.”
WhatCar UK — 3.0/5.0 — “Great to look at and well-equipped, but rivals are better to drive, plusher inside.”
AutoExpress — 4.0/5.0 — “There’s little doubt that the E-Pace is going to be another smash hit for Jaguar. It has a great blend of agility and comfort, with decent cruising refinement and impressive practicality. It’s also fun to drive – exactly how a Jaguar should be.”