New Jaguar E-Pace D150 manual 2018 review

We try out the entry-level Jaguar E-Pace D150 with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Those after a cheaper route into Jaguar SUV ownership shouldn’t feel shortchanged by this entry-level E-Pace. The D150 engine is eager and the gearbox precise, offering a decent blend of driver engagement and low running costs. It’s easy to see why many opt for the auto, especially if you spend a lot of time in town, but the manual is a fine drive and well worth a look.

This is near enough the cheapest Jaguar E-Pace you can buy. While the majority of the firm’s SUVs have all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox, this entry-level 2.0-litre D150 model is powered via the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

We’re big fans of the Evoque-based E-Pace, and price aside, it’s one of our favourite small premium SUVs. But with relatively high ownership costs, does a bog-standard low-power diesel make more sense? We’ve driven it to find out.

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The first thing you’ll notice is how eager the engine feels. It’s a punchy performer, and it never feels sluggish, so long as you don’t let the revs bog down. Apart from the long throw, the gearbox is pleasant and precise to use.

Grip is good, despite losing out on the more expensive models’ all-wheel drive. Body roll is kept in check, too, cornering deftly in all but the tightest of bends. The steering is weighty and quick to respond, gifting you the ability to place it accurately on the road, and while a new Volvo XC40 is comfier, our car’s optional 19-inch wheels didn’t harm the ride too much.

Without adaptive dampers fitted, the JaguarDrive Control settings make little difference on manual models. Our advice would be to leave it in Comfort and work the gearbox for maximum performance.

The basic unbadged E-Pace starts from £28,500, but the S car as tested here throws in desirable kit such as sat-nav, leather seats and Park Assist. A reversing camera, parking sensors and a suite of safety kit also feature.

Yet if you want an automatic, you’ll need to opt for the pricier AWD model. This makes it harder to compare and contrast raw figures, although a quick glance suggests the manual should be much cheaper to run, with lower CO2 emissions and superior fuel economy.

Yes, the E-Pace Auto offers smooth changes and improved grip, but it’ll also add a substantial £3,300 to the list price, or £49 per month on a three-year finance deal.

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