Jaguar E-PACE review
The Jaguar E-Pace is a smart-looking SUV but it isn’t as good to drive as a Jaguar should be. The interior is better thanks to big updates, however, and it’s reasonably practical.
Find out more about the Jaguar E-PACE
The Jaguar E-Pace is a sporty-looking small SUV with seats for five. Its sleek looks aim to turn your attention away from the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Mercedes GLA.
Despite its on-trend looks, though, the E-Pace used to be like a Hollywood actor using plastic surgery to hide their age, as it was based on the old Range Rover Evoque. It’s all change for 2021, though – underneath it now shares most of its oily bits with the fresh new Evoque.
The sporting theme continues in the Jaguar E-Pace’s interior, however. It all looks very nice with a sweeping dashboard design and plenty of metal-effect inserts and leather trims, and the latest update has improved quality. The posh climate control dials, nicked from the I-Pace, are a welcome touch.
The infotainment used to be another weak spot, being both glitchy and sluggish. It’s greatly improved as of 2021 and a match for the Germans, so Jag has seen the error of its ways.
You won’t have any trouble adjusting the front seats to find your ideal seating position – regardless of whether you’re Harlem Globetrotter-tall or professional jockey-small. Things in the back are less comfortable for tall passengers, though, and carrying three adults abreast is a definite no – on long journeys at least.
The Jaguar E-Pace’s boot is also smaller than some alternatives, although its wide opening and lack of a load lip make sliding heavy objects in a breeze. And, it’s still plenty big enough to carry a family’s luggage for a two-week holiday.
The E-Pace drives better now it's been updated, but it's still a bit of a porker. The BMW X2 is still the king of sporty small SUVs
Performing more mundane tasks such as commuting in the city, the Jaguar E-Pace’s high driving position makes you feel safe and gives you a great view out. Visibility out the back isn’t so good but all models come with a rear camera and all-round sensors, so even if you hate reversing you’ll find the Jaguar E-Pace is easy to park.
Out in the country, the Jaguar E-Pace’s suspension does a better job of soaking up bumps than it does at slow speeds and it has plenty of grip in corners. But, it still feels like a fairly big, heavy car and consequently can’t match a BMW X2’s ability to put a smile on your face.
That said, the Jaguar doesn’t suffer from the BMW’s tyre noise when you’re driving at speed – there is a little wind noise at a cruise – and it feels planted and composed. Range-topping models have plenty of driver assistance tech too, that’ll accelerate and brake for you in traffic jams – just the thing if your commute takes in busy town centres.
Sadly, the Jaguar E-Pace isn’t particularly cheap to run, and can’t match the Audi Q2’s or BMW X2’s engines for efficiency, although all models bar the entry diesel come with grippy four-wheel drive as standard. In fact, if you’re looking for an SUV that can handle more than a slippery road, then the Jaguar E-Pace does a pretty good job.
However, if you spend most of your motoring life in town, the powerful E-Pace PHEV with its 34-mile electric-only range is worth a look.
And that pretty much encapsulates the Jaguar E-Pace, it’s a big, solid and reasonably practical SUV that will appeal to you if you’re more interested in your new SUV looking sporty than feeling particularly athletic to drive.
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The Jaguar E-Pace cabin has plenty of room for passengers and enough seat adjustment for very tall drivers to get comfy but its boot isn’t as big as in some alternatives
You’ll have no issues whatsoever getting a comfortable driving position in the Jaguar E-Pace because all models come with height-adjustable front seats and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach.
All but entry cars have electrically adjustable front seats so there’s no need to manhandle yourself into position, and SE cars and above have electrically adjustable lumbar support to stave off back pain on long journeys.
You can go one step better in Jaguar E-Pace HSE cars though, by spending extra to have front seats that are heated and cooled so your backside can be shielded from the worst the UK’s weather has to throw at it.
Sadly, the back seats don’t have any of the adjustment offered up front, but there is plenty of headroom for tall friends to get comfy. Knee room isn’t so good though, and tall adults sitting behind equally lofty individuals will have to rely on them sliding their chair forward and compromising their own comfort.
Getting three in the back will also require a bit of compromise because the middle seat is hard and makes you feel like you’re perched up above those in the outer seats.
Unfortunately, headroom is at a premium if you specify the optional panoramic glass roof and the large hump in the floor means a third person will also have to share the outer passengers’ footwells.
At least fitting a child seat should present no issues. The Jaguar E-Pace’s rear doors open wide and its Isofix mounting points are clearly marked behind removable plastics tabs that should make it easy to latch the base of a seat into place.
You don’t have to worry about keeping the interior of your sparkling new car tidy because the Jaguar E-Pace comes equipped with numerous interior storage cubbies that are ideal for hiding the mess that comes hand in hand with everyday life.
For one, the huge glovebox will happily swallow two-litre bottles of water with room left over for a few snacks to keep everyone fuelled on long journeys. The door pockets can hold enough bottles of water to douse a small forest fire and you can get yet another bottle of water under the front centre armrest.
Plus, the Jaguar E-Pace has more electricity outputs than a small power station – you get no fewer than four 12V sockets and five USB plugs, so there should be no need to argue about who charges their phone first.
The Jaguar E-Pace has a 425-litre boot that is bigger than the Audi Q2’s (405 litres) but smaller than the one you get in the BMW X2 (470 litres). It’s worth noting that the plug-in hybrid also cuts another chunk of space due to the batteries under the boot floor.
Getting away from raw figures, the Jaguar’s boot has been well thought out with a small cubby on one side to keep the boot tidy and an elastic strap to keep things such as washer fluid and cleaning products held in place. On top of that, you get hooks for your shopping and four tethers to stop your suitcases from sliding about.
The boot has no problem swallowing a baby stroller and a couple of soft bags, and is well up to the job of carrying the luggage needed for a two-week family holiday.
The load bay’s square shape, the large boot opening – and the fact that there’s no load lip to lift things over – means that the Jaguar E-Pace can take awkward jobs, such as trips to the tip, in its stride.
That said, visits to IKEA might require you to fold the rear seats down, achieved by pulling a couple of latches next to the headrests on the back seat. That gives you a total capacity of 1,234 litres – that’s less than you get in a BMW X2, but still enough to fit a mountain bike with both its wheels attached.
The Jaguar E-Pace is a small SUV that feels more like a big SUV. It has a tall driving position and loads of grip, but it’s not as agile and fun as you might expect
The Jaguar E-Pace is available with a choice of two diesel and three petrol engines, all bar one of which features mild-hybrid assistance.
Excluding the entry-level 163hp diesel, all models come with four-wheel drive as standard, but even the entry-level version costs more to run on paper than comparable models from Audi and BMW.
The best all-rounder in the range is the mild-hybrid 163hp diesel. Fitted with the optional nine-speed automatic gearbox (which brings all-wheel drive), it can do an average of 44mpg. It’s the only engine you can spec as a manual, although you’ll find it doesn’t suit the diesel engine as well as the auto.
If you want a decent turn of speed, choose the 204hp diesel. It’s only a little slower than the 250hp petrol and it’s also quieter at a cruise, while it won’t be much less efficient than the smaller diesel on a run.
If you rarely do many miles, consider a petrol. The 200hp petrol is fine if you will take things easy, but go for the 249hp P250 for more get up and go on flowing country roads. There’s also a 300hp P300, which borders on hot hatch brisk, but you’d struggle to crack 30mpg even driving gently.
Company car user-choosers will be drawn to the plug-in hybrid model, which features a 200hp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and 109hp electric motor. This can cover the 0-60mph dash in 6.1 seconds, emits just 44g/km of CO2 and has an electric-only range of 34 miles.
It’s brisk when you want it to be, frugal and super smooth when you don’t, and has very low company car tax. As with all PHEV models, the key to making the most of its efficiency is to charge up the battery so you can use electric power as much of the time as possible.
The Jaguar E-Pace has been eating more than its fair share of pies. It’s around 250kg heavier than a BMW X2, and despite Jaguar’s best work it feels every bit of that if you push on.
Hurried down a country road, the E-Pace’s steering is quick and its huge tyres (top-end cars have 20-inch wheels) have lots of grip. But, at anything above brisk speeds, the steering is too light and uncommunicative to give you complete confidence and the brakes always feel like they have their work cut out scrubbing off speed.
Factor in an automatic gearbox that never seems to know what gear it should be in and, if you’re a keen, Jaguar-loving driver being forced into SUV ownership by a need for practicality – you’ll be much better served by the rather excellent Jaguar F-Pace.
If however, you want an SUV that feels big and unshakable then the Jaguar E-Pace fits the bill. Its tough construction means four-wheel-drive models are capable off-road and it can tow a trailer weighing up to 1,800kg.
It’s also worth mentioning its five-star star Euro NCAP safety score, plus a vast array of safety features to either mitigate a collision or avoid one entirely.
With this in mind, the Jaguar E-Pace is a comfortable car to cover long journeys in. There’s a little wind noise from the mirrors, but the engines are quiet (once they’re up to speed, anyway), the suspension does a good job of soaking up bumps and it will resist fast crosswinds with stout disinterest.
It doesn’t feel quite so at home in the city, however. There its suspension is a bit firm over broken surfaces and sharp bumps, particularly on the 20in wheel option. The small back window and thick rear pillars would also make it a pain to park, but neither is a problem because all models come with a reversing camera as standard.
Front parking sensors are also fitted to all versions, but if you want to preserve the E-Pace’s lovely alloy wheels then it’s worth specifying the optional all-round cameras.
The view out the front, meanwhile, is excellent. The Jaguar E-Pace doesn’t feel like a normal family car that’s been raised up slightly, as with the Audi Q2, instead, you can peer over traffic at junctions and get a bird’s-eye view on country roads.
The Jaguar E-Pace’s interior is finally a match for the Germans thanks to a big 2021 update – for the most part, anyway.
Jaguar E-PACE colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.