The Jaguar E-Pace is a small SUV that feels like a big SUV. It has a tall driving position and unshakable grip, but alternatives are nimbler in bends and more comfortable in town
The Jaguar E-Pace is available with a choice of three diesel and two petrol engines.
Excluding the entry-level 150d, all models come with four-wheel drive as standard, but even the entry-level version costs more to run than comparable models from BMW and Audi.
The best all-rounder in the range is the 180d diesel. Fitted with the £1,760 nine-speed automatic gearbox, it can get from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds – almost a second quicker than the 150d model. Its 50.4mpg average fuel economy is about 10mpg down on what you’d get from the 150d, but that’s mostly because it has grippy four-wheel drive rather than the two-wheel drive of the basic model.
The E-Pace handles like a Jaguar that’s had one too many hits from the tranquiliser gun
If you want a decent turn of speed, choose the 240hp 240d diesel – in normal driving, it feels just as quick as the 300hp petrol and it’s also quieter at a cruise. Officially, it’ll return 45.6mpg but it doesn’t take too much spirited driving to see the figure drop far south of that. Even so, it’ll be cheaper to run than the quick petrol.
The Jaguar E-Pace is a heavy car – it weighs roughly 300kg more than a BMW X1 and a whopping 570kg more than an Audi Q2 – and that shows in the way it drives.
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 much-sharper 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, and the fact that it comes with automatic emergency brakes that’ll slam on the anchors if they detect an imminent collision with a car or a person.
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 jiggly over broken surfaces and sharp bumps. 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 £310 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.