Jaguar E-Pace review
The Jaguar E-Pace has its work cut out in the ultra-competitive small premium SUV market
If you’ve lusted after a Jaguar F-Pace but wanted its essence bottled-up in a smaller package, then the Jaguar E-Pace isn’t quite that car. It’s a competent member of the small premium SUV market, though, because it's decent enough to drive, smart enough to look at, and available in a dizzying number of configurations.
Ultimately it fails to really stand out against some particularly strong rivals, in spite of a mid-life facelift bringing welcome improvements to driving feel, efficiency and the on-board infotainment set-up. Have a good long sit in one before you take the plunge, as the interior isn’t the most exciting place to be, while the car's running costs could be better.
About the E-Pace
It’s highly unusual for a car to be switched to a new platform mid-way through it’s life, but that’s what JLR has done for the E-Pace SUV. It’s a move allowing the introduction of a new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant that should attract more business customers, and which also addresses criticisms of the previous model’s less than sparkling handling and off-the-pace infotainment.
The new E-Pace underpinnings are a version of the PTA platform shared with the latest versions of the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. They’re lighter and more advanced, but you can’t tell you’re looking at a new E-Pace by what’s lurking under the bodywork.
To help with that, JLR has also provided the 2021 E-Pace with redesigned bumpers at both ends, plus new mesh grille, lights and wheel designs. The interior has been upgraded a little too, with a new drive selector, retrimmed instrument binnacle and a modified transmission tunnel for extra driver knee-room. More importantly, there’s a new 11.4-inch touchscreen with JLR’s Pivi operating system and the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster has been updated too.
Small premium SUVs are having a bit of a boom at the moment, and the Jaguar E-Pace is in a prime spot to take sales. It's the smallest car for sale in the Jaguar SUV line-up (a range that didn't exist before 2015), and whether you want to pay the list price or lease one, the E-Pace is offered in a wide range of configurations to suit your budget.
But the E-Pace doesn't have the premium small SUV market to itself. There are a number of manufacturers that are fighting for market share in this lucrative sector. Chief among the E-Pace's rivals are the BMW X1 and X2 duo, plus the Audi Q3, Mercedes GLB and the excellent Volvo XC40. There's also the Lexus UX, plus in-house competition from the second-generation Range Rover Evoque.
In terms of design, the E-Pace is recognisably a Jaguar, but the designers haven't just created a shrunken F-Pace. The baby Jaguar SUV has its own distinctive proportions, with shorter front and rear overhangs, while the low roof line is said to be inspired by the F-Type coupe. Inside, the dashboard layout is more familiar, with lots of existing Jaguar switchgear and materials used to create an upmarket ambience.
The Jaguar E-Pace range comprises standard, S, SE and HSE trims, while all cars can be upgraded with an R-Dynamic pack that adds a sportier look inside and out. There’s also a bespoke single trim grade for the P300 Sport.
All cars are powered by 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, badged P200, P250 and P300 or D165 and D200. Front-wheel drive features on the D165 in standard and S guises, but higher-spec D165 models get four-wheel drive and mild-hybrid (MHEV) tech - both the latter are standard across the rest of the E-Pace line-up.
A six-speed manual is offered with the D165 and D200 engines in standard and S trims, but the rest of the range gets Jaguar's latest 9-speed auto.
The new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option is badged P300e, and it combines a 197bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with a 108bhp electric motor for a maximum combined power output of 305bhp - just beating the 296bhp of the P300 Sport. Unlike the 2.0-litre P300 petrol, you can specify the P300e PHEV powertrain in S, SE or HSE trim grades.
Prices for the E-Pace start from around £32,000, with the R-Dynamic pack adding around £1,400 to the list price and a bespoke body kit, sports seats, steering wheel and sports pedals for the money. At the top of the range, the most P300e R-Dynamic HSE costs almost £51,000, which is nearly £5k more than the P300 Sport.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Jaguar E-Pace has its work cut out in the ultra-competitive small premium SUV market
- 2Engines, performance and driveE-Pace boasts good steering and is decently grippy, but engines are dull and it feels a little heavy
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsBoth the D150 and D180 cars shouldn’t be too expensive to run, but more powerful versions aren’t frugal
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe E-Pace stands out with its sporty exterior design, but the interior feels a little plain
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceE-Pace’s sporty outlook belies its practical side, with good headroom and a decent boot
- 6Reliability and SafetyA good Euro NCAP score puts the Jag in good stead, but we’re still waiting for owner feedback on reliability