Jaguar’s E-Pace was first launched back in 2017, following in the footsteps of it’s very successful older, larger brother, the F-Pace. Having been established in the market for a while now seemed a good time to take a fresh look at the E-Pace. With our bags packed, we set off for Belgium in a 300PS R-Dynamic HSE edition E-Pace.
Initial impressions count for so much and fortunately, the E-Pace doesn’t disappoint. Finished in Farallon Black Pearl paint with privacy glass in the rear, this spec of E-Pace has a real focus and stealth-ness to it. It’s clear to see there’s been a carry-over with the F-Pace design language, whilst the signature Jaguar grill is neatly flanked by sculpted LED headlights.
The rear takes a more bulbous approach compared to the sleek front, with twin pipes mounted low in the bumper hinting towards the slightly more sports-focused nature of this SUV. The E-Pace continues the trend seen across numerous SUV’s, with a heavily raked rear window emulating a more coupe-esque body shape.
It’s always fun devising test routes when evaluating a test car, with the E-pace coinciding with a planned European road trip; 2 days, 700 miles, Belgium and back via the Euro-tunnel. This wouldn’t be half-hearted either, as the E-Pace was going 5-up with all 3 rear seats filled with fully grown adult humans. Early starts and late finishes beckoned…
Fortunately, the E-Pace is ideal for chilly early starts. With what I can only describe as the best cold-weather cabin I’ve ever experienced, the E-Pace de-mists the screens and heats the cabin with fantastic efficiency. This is largely thanks to the use of heater elements within the glass itself, as well as the car automatically activating the de-misting system should the conditions require. Coupling this with heated seats and steering wheel results in the ultimate cold-weather formula.
Keeping with seats and steering wheels, it’s worth discussing the interior as a whole. Finished in ‘Mars Red’ leather with chrome highlights scattered throughout, it’s a smart cabin with the leather dash a nice addition. Further spec’ing on this model includes the Suedecloth headlining – a pricy option at £820 that adds an extra bit of luxury and tactility to the upper surfaces.
The overall fit, finish & feel of the E-Pace is very good, with the only let down being the area above the rear-view mirror – the sunglasses holder is a frustrating film-fest. Overall though, it’s one of the best put together interiors I’ve experienced and feels solid enough to easily last through years of abuse – bravo Jaguar.
Space-wise, the boot holds a reasonable 577 litres, but it’s the interior cubbies where the E-Pace excels. The door bins are cavernous (easily big enough for a couple of bottles of wine…), whilst the armrest/centre section opens out to offer plenty of additional space. In terms of occupant space, three adults across the rear is a bit of a squeeze (2 adults or kids will be fine), whilst the low roofline can make the rear feel a little claustrophobic. Fortunately, the panoramic glass roof is a superb remedy to this – but at £970 it is an expensive tonic.
Enough about the interior – having been given the top-spec 300PS R-Dynamic model, it’s about time we discussed the E-Pace’s drivetrain. It’s a 4-cylinder petrol engine, which drives all 4 wheels through a 9-speed automatic gearbox. All four corners are sprung using traditional springs/dampers (no trick air suspension here), although the ‘adaptive dynamics’ pack does upgrade these to electronic dampers.
The ride is on the firmer side, which can be a little crashy over bumps but allows the E-Pace to really stretch its legs when it comes to cornering. Body roll is kept to a minimum, whilst steering feel and a general sense of the car feeling very planted are excellent. The E-Pace certainly registers at the entertaining end of SUV drives, which is all the more surprising when you realise the engine is just a diminutive 2.0-litre unit and the E-Pace weighs close to 2 tonnes.
It’s the same engine unit as fitted to the F-Type I drove last year, in which I felt the engine failed to fit the personality of the car. Take the high-demand for noise & drama out of the equation though and it’s an impressive unit. It takes the E-Pace to 60mph in 6.1 seconds, with its general grunt and ‘squirt’ plentiful for daily driving.
With 9-speeds to choose from, the gearbox does a good job of keeping the engine in its sweet spot should you push on. Conversely, with so many ratios on offer, it is surprising how poor the fuel economy can be. Driven carefully in eco mode, 30mpg can just about be achieved, but expect figures around 25 for normal driving and 20 for anything excitable… Ouch!
In terms of car tech, the E-Pace offers up the now-expected suite of connectivity, touch screen and controls. The digital dashboard is well integrated and a fantastic display, complemented beautifully by the heads-up display on this model (£920). The software feels a little behind rivals, lacking the fluidity and plethora of features that rivals such as Audi fit in their vehicles. However, it’s all simple and easy to use, with the condensed button selection below the central display offering a good balance between touch and physical controls.
An optional 825w Meridian sound system can be spec’d for an additional £1,020 – again, an option ticked for this vehicle. As sound system upgrades go it’s a little hit and miss, fitting firmly into the middle ground and is nothing to shout about.
Jaguar has also squeezed in a decent suite of driver aids – auto lights, wipers and adaptive cruise are complimented with traffic sign recognition, a 360-degree parking camera and rear cross-traffic monitoring. All the systems worked well throughout testing, with their integration into the steering wheel and centre console controls easy to master. The adaptive cruise must be praised and lauded, for it can be incredibly strict about the distance to the vehicle in front, resulting in a lot of accelerating/braking as it hunts for the optimum gap. However, in doing so it did respond well to some incredibly dangerous driving encountered on a Belgian motorway, so it’s not all bad…
It took me a long time to decide how I felt about the E-Pace, and its perhaps best summed up in a single word: solid. It’s well built, sturdy and has all the creature comforts you’d expect from a car in 2019. Where it perhaps loses marks is that it offers nothing particularly standout, nothing to get excited about or that you’d be desperate to show off to your friends.
It’s a good-looking car, handles well and offers plenty of get up and go for an SUV in this class. Given the choice though, I can’t help but feel the Diesel engines on offer (the D240 looks an excellent proposition) would be a better bet, with their favourable fuel consumption to performance balance an attractive option. Care also needs to be taken when spec’ing up the E-Pace; starting prices are as low as £28,900, whilst this spec came in at £48,900 OTR.
MSF would like to thank Jaguar UK for supplying today’s review car and being kind enough to let us enjoy it during our trip to Belgium.