Jaguar E-Pace SUV review
"The Jaguar E-Pace is a stylish SUV with the option of an impressive plug-in hybrid powertrain"
- Efficient plug-in hybrid
- Firm ride
- Top-spec model is expensive
Making a smaller SUV like the Jaguar E-Pace was an easy decision for Jaguar once it gauged the popularity of the F-Pace. The F-Pace may have been the manufacturer’s first SUV but it quickly became its fastest-selling model ever, and the obvious potential in making a smaller, less expensive version, to compete with upmarket rivals such as the Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA, Volvo XC40, Lexus NX, BMW X1, and Volkswagen Tiguan was too good to ignore.
The E-Pace isn’t, however, just a shrunken F-Pace. Sharing its underpinnings with the Range Rover Evoque, the silhouette of the car is noticeably different, with a significantly shorter bonnet. The car is much more influenced by the styling of the Jaguar F-Type sports car, outside and in, even if the rear of the car bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the F-Pace.
A facelift for 2021 went much further than just tweaking the SUV's looks, ushering in the new underpinnings used for the latest Range Rover Evoque. The big news is that this architecture has allowed Jaguar to fit a plug-in hybrid powertrain but buyers are equally as likely to be impressed by the advanced new infotainment setup.
The E-Pace range consists of three petrol (P200, P250 and P300) and two diesel (D165 and D200) models, all of which are based on Land Rover’s four-cylinder 2.0-litre Ingenium engines, with power outputs that increase as you ascend the model hierarchy. From its name, you might imagine the E-Pace is electric but the Jaguar I-Pace is actually the company’s battery-powered SUV. From 2021, you can, however, pick a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version badged P300e. This has a 15kWh battery, giving it a range of up to 34 miles that slashes running costs, and could prove a hit with business drivers.
The 2.0-litre D165 diesel engine at the bottom of the range is the most economical non-hybrid, capable of up to 47mpg, partly because it’s the only model available with front-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is available on the E-Pace and is mandatory if you want an automatic gearbox. The more powerful D200 is our pick of the range, combining its 201bhp with economy of just over 40mpg when fitted with a manual gearbox. If your preference is for petrol, the 197bhp generated by the P200 will be more than adequate, but it will cost significantly more to run than a diesel E-Pace. You’ll struggle to see more than 30mpg from any of the petrols. The P300e PHEV is the economy star, returning an official 141mpg with CO2 emissions of just 44g/km thanks to the helping hand from its electric motor and battery.
The E-Pace is available in four trim levels, which are the unnamed entry-level model, the S, the SE and the HSE. You can choose to have all four trim levels in R-Dynamic form, which means the car comes with some styling add-ons to give it a sportier appearance. Range-topping HSE models feel distinctly expensive for what they are, so our recommendation is to opt for the E-Pace in S trim unless you really fancy the extra kit included on the SE model.
The E-Pace is a good car to drive, and while it weighs more than a number of the other cars in its class, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, the new chassis does a good job of disguising its weight. The interior is smart and surprisingly practical, and the performance on offer doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, even if the car can feel a bit fidgety sometimes, especially on larger alloy wheels.
Our main gripe with the E-Pace used to be its infotainment system, which was sluggish compared to most other systems on the market, but the facelift has also seen big upgrades here. Jaguar has fitted the latest Pivi Pro setup, with an attractive 11.4-inch touchscreen boasting sharp graphics and far quicker responses.
Reliability is somewhat hard to judge. The E-Pace shares parts with the Range Rover Evoque but neither of these cars appeared in our 2020 Driver Power ownership survey. It’s concerning that, overall, 25.6% of Jaguar owners reported a problem within the first year of ownership. Safety won’t be a worry, though, with a stellar five-star score and a huge array of driver assistance features.