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 variety 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 R-Dynamic styling pack is now standard with S, SE, HSE and Black Edition models, with the P300 Sport available as an individual bespoke trim grade.
All cars are powered by 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, badged P250, D165 and D200. The P200 is no longer featured on the price list. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox features on the D165 in S and SE guises, but higher-spec D165 models get four-wheel drive, mild-hybrid (MHEV) tech and Jaguar's latest 9-speed auto (standard across the rest of the E-Pace line-up).
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 £37,000, while at the top of the range, the P300e R-Dynamic HSE costs more than £51,000, which is nearly £5k more than the P300 Sport.
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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 CostsThe E-Pace plug-in model should be reasonable 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 five-star Euro NCAP score for the E-Pace is encouraging, while Jaguar continues to perform well in our Driver Power survey with another top ten finish