Interior doesn’t wow, frustrating infotainment, expensive to buy and run
If you’ve lusted after Jaguar’s F-Pace but wanted its essence bottled-up in a smaller package, then the Jaguar E-Pace isn’t quite that car. It’s still a competent member of the small premium SUV market, being decent enough to drive, smart enough to look at, and available in a dizzying number of configurations – 54 by our latest count – but it ultimately fails to stand out. Have a good long sit in one before you take the plunge, as the interior isn’t the most exciting place to be.
With one successful SUV already in the bag, you’d forgive Jaguar if it decided to spin the E-Pace off simply as a scaled down version of the popular F-Pace. However, that’s not quite what has happened from a design standpoint.
Look closer and you’ll see that the design language employed by the E-Pace is completely different. While the F-Pace takes after the firm’s established line-up of saloons, this smaller SUV takes its inspiration from the F-Type sports car, the shape of the grille and the headlights are a dead giveaway.
Elsewhere, the E-Pace’s bending roofline and kinked window line are much more aggressive than on the F-Pace, feeding into a chunky little hatch lid spoiler. The car’s overhangs are particularly short too, noticeably at the rear. Finally, there’s a more angular theme to the E-Pace’s tailgate and taillights than on any other Jaguar. All cars feature twin exhausts.
Styling differences between the regular E-Pace and the sportier E-Pace R-Dynamic are subtle. The R-Dynamic gets a revised front apron with larger, singular air intakes either side of the grille, front fog lamps plus a slightly different rear diffuser. Some of the black plastic exterior trim elements are transformed too, and become body painted. R-Dynamic cars ride on different alloy wheels too, and come with grilles finished in gloss black. Touches inside include bright metal pedals, metal treadplates, and sports seats.
The interior feels much more conventional in design. The dashboard itself is long and flat, rather than upright, while the positioning of the vents, infotainment display and climate control settings is straightforward and at hand. It can feel a little conservative though, in a class where style and technology are becoming big selling factors.
The metals and leathers used in the cabin feel good, and while the plastics are soft too the touch, it feels like Jaguar has leant a little too much on that material. The entirety of the dashboard surrounding the steering wheel and instruments is made from plastic, as is the area around the gear selector’s chrome housing. As such it can look a bit drab, depending on spec, but there are plenty of interior colour schemes to choose from.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
All Jaguar E-Pace models are equipped with a ten-inch touchscreen infotainment system called Touch Pro. It’s a system we’ve come across in plenty of JLR products before, and we’ve found it far from perfect. Running software known as InControl it’s a little slow to respond compared to the likes of BMW’s iDrive system or a Mercedes COMAND unit. Annoyingly, neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto is available, with Jaguar’s in-house smartphone mirroring software supplied instead.
All cars above S grade are equipped with navigation as standard. Maps are easy and clear enough to follow, and the screen resolution is decent too. However, the shallow angle of the dashboard means that the infotainment screen lies in a less than ideal position.
A 12.3-inch fully digitalised instrument panel with configurable interfaces is standard fit on the fully stocked HSE car, and an option to consider on S and SE grade models.
Jaguar’s engineers have been hit with a demanding task for this car; how do you apply the Range Rover Evoque’s heavy D8 platform to an SUV which buyers will expect a degree of driver engagement from?
Weighing in at 1,775kg at its very lightest, the E-Pace is actually heavier than its larger F-Pace sibling – the heaviest versions, all-wheel-drive D240 cars, tip the scales at very nearly two tonnes.
Despite this, The E-Pace hits back against its kerb weight with decent driving dynamics. Push on and you’ll feel the car’s weight for sure, more so than in a BMW X1 or X2, as the E-Pace picks up a smidgen of bodyroll and a weighty nose prone to washing out into understeer. It’s safe rather than fun, but at eight tenths it feels composed and could even be described as agile. Jaguar has equipped the E-Pace with a lovely power steering system too, which is well weighted, responsive and delivers good feedback considering it’s an electric system. It is a little weighty around town though.
All-wheel-drive models are kitted with Jaguar’s Active Driveline system enabling torque vectoring on the rear axle, though the difference it makes isn’t game changing. You’ll feel a little tug at the rear as the inside rear wheel is braked, and the outside is fed more power, with up to 100 per cent of the rear axle’s torque available in just one corner of the car. It’ll sharpen your line but won’t put a huge smile on your face, and the extra grip quickly gives way to understeer.
All but the entry level, front-wheel-drive D150 car are available or equipped with adaptive dampers. With these, you’ll be able to configure the E-Pace into a relatively comfortable SUV, though the Volvo XC40 remains softer and better at soaking up bumps.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
Kicking off what is an expansive E-Pace engine line-up is the D150 diesel. This two-litre four-cylinder unit serves up 150bhp and 380Nm of torque, and is available linked to a manual gearbox and front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive and a nine-speed automatic gearbox, depending on trim.
Despite being the smallest, least powerful option it doesn’t feel sluggish, and for many this might be all the performance you’ll need – a sub ten-second 0-62mph dash and a top speed of 124mph is respectable enough.
However, the real pick of the engine line-up is probably the more powerful D180 diesel. It’s the same four-cylinder unit, only with the wick turned up to 178bhp and 430Nm. It doesn’t wholly transform the level of performance on offer, taking 8.7 seconds to 62mph and topping out at 127mph, but all-wheel-drive and an automatic gearbox are standard fit. It’s respectably refined and smooth but the gearbox could be a little better. It’s Jaguar’s implementation of a ZF transmission, and it can get caught out from time to time. You’ll need an R-Dynamic car for steering wheel paddle shifters.
The third diesel option is the D240, again using a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. With this unit equipped, the E-Pace moves from offering a respectable level of performance towards being a lot more pacey, thanks to a 7.4 second dash to 62mph and a top speed of 139mph. As nice as this is, we’d recommend saving cash and sticking with the D180, which will also be cheaper to run.
Petrol power in the E-Pace isn’t as popular, but there are three options nonetheless. The P200 is a relatively new addition to the line-up, and we’ve yet to drive it. This 2.0-litre turbocharged option serves up 197bhp with 62mph coming up in 7.7 seconds. The 246bhp P250 sits above it and is equipped with all-wheel-drive as standard.
The most powerful E-Pace you can buy is the 296bhp P300. 0-62mph comes up in 6.4 seconds and top speed stands at 151mph. We wouldn’t recommend it though. The highly-strung four-cylinder unit is pacey but not outrageously so, and it’s not particularly exciting either, producing a flat, uninspiring engine note. It’ll prove very costly to run, too.
A diesel E-Pace makes sense if running costs are a concern, and Jaguar claims some decent and competitive fuel economy and CO2 figures for these cars. For instance, the most basic E-Pace – the front-wheel-drive D150 equipped with a manual gearbox – claims 53.3mpg with tailpipe CO2 emissions of 141g/km. In real world conditions, you can probably expect this E-Pace to easily return over 40mpg. It occupies the 33 per cent Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax bracket for company car buyers, which is the lowest rate of any E-Pace.
However, the overwhelming majority of buyers will specify an automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive. In this regard, the D150 AWD Auto returns a still favourable 47.1mpg, but emissions climb to a fairly dirty 159g/km.
Buyers who step up to our pick – the D180 AWD Auto – will find that there is no fuel economy penalty. Officially, it returns the exact same 47.1mpg and 159g/km of CO2. The D240 can’t repeat the same trick however. It dips to 40.9mpg, while tailpipe emissions soar to a heady 175g/km. Your first year tax bill will be £830.
Despite all being four-cylinder options, the petrols are thirsty. The basic P200 chalks up official fuel economy of 34.4mpg, while emissions stand at 186g/km. The E-Pace P250 claims the exact same figures.
Meanwhile the P300 dips further to 33.2mpg, while a CO2 figure of 194g/km means you’ll face a hefty first year tax bill. Of course, many of these higher-powered E-Pace models stray over £40,000 too, meaning your yearly rate after the first year rate will sit at £310 instead of £140. So far as trim is concerned, there are no differences in official fuel economy and CO2 between regular and R-Dynamic finished E-Paces.
There’s no denying that the E-Pace occupies lofty insurance groups. The most basic and cheapest version sits in group 24, while our choice – the D180 – is in group 29. Compared to the Range Rover Evoque the Jaguar should theoretically be cheaper to insure, though it should be said that other rivals slip into lower groups. The Audi Q3, for instance, is lower across its entire line-up.
Residual values for the E-Pace look very good indeed, with values for both the D150 and D180 versions are predicted to remain strong over three years. Our pick – the D180 in S trim with an automatic gearbox – is predicted to retain 56 per cent of its worth, while higher spec models such as the HSE D180 approach keeping nearly 60 per cent of their value. Petrol versions are worse, and expect any given petrol powered E-Pace to be worth around 45 per cent what you paid for it three years down the line, if you stick around 10,000 miles a year on the car.
You’ll find that despite the E-Pace’s dynamic and sporty focus, it remains a fairly practical and spacious small SUV. Forward and side visibility is good thanks to the short dashboard-to-axle ratio, though the rear window is a little small in the mirror. Thankfully, a reversing camera is standard kit on all cars.
Overall, the E-Pace a fairly competitive package compared to many of its rivals on many fronts. You’ll find plenty of cubbyholes and storage spaces in the cabin, including a huge one in the central armrest. Two cupholders are present as well.
Against the tape measure, the E-Pace sizes up at 4,411mm long, 1,649mm tall, and 1,900mm wide, with a wheelbase of 2,681mm. It means that compared to the car it’s closest to – the Range Rover Evoque – the Jag is a little longer and boasts a longer wheelbase, but is just as wide and a little lower at the same time. Overall the proportions are bang in line with the segment and with the Jag’s varied rivals, including the Volvo XC40 and Audi Q3, while it’s a little smaller than a DS 7 Crossback.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Four adults should be able to get reasonably comfortable in the Jaguar, though carrying five is ever so slightly hampered by the raised transmission tunnel cutting into rear legroom for the middle seat. Some rivals boast better leg and headroom, but overall the E-Pace doesn’t let you down when it comes to passenger room.
Space up front for driver and front passenger isn’t tight at all, and the Jaguar’s driving position is very flexible, so you should be able find a comfortable spot to drive from with ease.
Jaguar claims a 577-litre boot, which is impressive on paper. In reality it’s good enough for families to live with. However, the space on offer isn’t completely accessible, and while that 577-litre figure means that officially it’s more practical than many of its rivals, day-to-day you’ll find that cars with better boot layouts, like the Volkswagen Tiguan and Volvo XC40, are more user friendly. The rear bench can’t do clever sliding tricks either, and folds down in a 60:40 split only.
Fold everything flat and you’ll get a 1,234-litre loading bay. In comparison, a BMW X1 sizes up at 1,550 litres.
Euro NCAP testing has resulted in a reassuring full five-star score for the E-Pace, which performed particularly strongly in pedestrian crash testing thanks to a standard pedestrian airbag. However, for adult occupants it still lags a little behind the safety benchmark for the class – the Volvo XC40.
Across the line-up, the level of standard safety and assistance equipment is as you’d expect of a premium SUV. All Jaguar E-Paces are fitted with lane keep assist, driver monitoring systems, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. Of course, a sophisticated automatic emergency braking system is included by default as well.
A wealth of other safety and assistance features can be specified. A Drive Pack includes adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, which can keep the vehicle moving in stop/start traffic with no input from the driver. Blind spot assistance is optional too.
The E-Pace is too new to have featured in one of our Driver Power new car surveys, though Jaguar as a marque claimed a respectable 10th place finish in our 2018 edition. However, the British brand placed a less encouraging 20th out of 27 for reliability, with 28 per cent of Jaguar owners reporting having encountered an issue with their car.
Jaguar’s standard warranty package stands at three years with unlimited miles, which is more or less the industry standard. Customisable extended warranties are available too, with quotes available on request if you submit your vehicle’s age, condition and mileage online with Jaguar.
Jaguar offers tailored servicing plans for the E-Pace, with plans up to five years in length available. A five-year/50,000-mile service plan costs £625 right now, for both petrol and diesel models.