- Jaguar’s second SUV faces up to the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Tough task, so is the E-Pace up to it?
What is it?
Likely to be the best-selling Jaguar of modern times. The F-Pace already shifts more units all by itself than did Jaguar in its entirety just six years ago, and the E-Pace is likely to eclipse the F-Pace in the same way as the Porsche Macan eclipsed the Cayenne. This mid-spec diesel will be the best-selling E-Pace of them all, at least in the UK and at least until the politicians and tabloid press have succeeded in their campaign to cleanse the roads of diesel-powered cars.
Powered by a 177bhp specification version of JLR’s ubiquitous ‘Ingenium’ motor, it offers the same fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as its 148bhp sister when similarly configured with automatic gears and four-wheel drive. Front drive is available with only the lower-powered engine although, in reality, even this car is front-wheel drive until slip is detected at the rear.
Otherwise it is as per every other E-Pace – a car derived from the Land Rover Discovery Sport which itself was a highly developed evolution of the old Freelander whose architectural roots could be traced back to the platform developed by Ford for the Mondeoamong others. It’s built by Magna Steyr in Austria because all of JLR’s UK SUV plants are already running at triple shift, 24/7 capacity.
What’s it like?
So much more convincing than the flagship petrol model. At almost 50 grand, even a near-300bhp E-Pace struggles to make a case for itself; competitively priced in the mid-£30ks, this diesel has no such problems. It’s an attractive car inside and out, although lacking the more elegant proportions of F-Pace.
Ergonomically, the driving environment is not as good as the best of the German opposition, but the E-Pace has a sense of interior style they lack. Just remember that the car looks larger than it is and you should satisfy yourself entirely that there’s enough space in the quite cramped rear cabin before taking the plunge.
On the road it’s good enough for its class, but those expecting a proper Jaguar driving experience should manage their expectations. For all the guff in the press pack about the ‘symphonic score’ of the engine and the car’s alleged ability to ‘make the road its stage’, by traditional Jaguar standards it’s a fairly mediocre thing to drive. And if ‘true performance isn’t just measured in figures’ that’s just as well because quick it ain’t. With manual gears it ducks under the 10-second barrier for the 0-62mph run with just a tenth to spare – the equivalent BMW X1 needs just 7.6sec, not least because it’s more than 200kg lighter. The auto is a little quicker, although the nine-speed box tends to hang on to its gears for too long.
The chassis is better but still not quite in the same league as other Jaguars sitting on more modern, lighter, aluminium-based platforms. By the somewhat modest standards of its class it handles quite well, managing its mass in corners, never feeling flabby and with conspicuously good steering. But it’s only been done by nailing down its body movements on its dampers and roll-bars, which means the ride – especially at low speed – is good enough but no better.
But none of this can obscure the fact that, in normal use, the E-Pace actually provides a pretty pleasant place in which to pass the time. The ride is fine on the motorway and from the low noise levels I observed, it seems JLR is getting on top of the refinement issues that affected early diesel Ingenium engines. And it does look and feel different, an interesting and imaginative alternative to the more predictable class norm.
Should I buy one?
If you’re pondering the four-star rating, bear in mind we judge according to where we think a car stands in its class – and in this class of high and heavy cars it does well. Indeed for most people most of the time the looks, interior ambience and image of the E-Pace will trump its modest performance and flawed low-speed ride.
The truth is that while this E-Pace may not be a particularly great Jaguar, by the rather less demanding standards of the compact premium SUV class, it does just fine.
Jaguar E-Pace D180 AWD R-Dynamic Auto
Where Brighton On sale Now Price £34,800 Engine 4 cyls, 1999cc, turbocharged diesel Power 177bhp at 4000rpm Torque 317lb ft at 1750rpm Gearbox 9-spd automatic Kerbweight 1843kg Top speed 127mph 0-62mph 9.3sec Fuel economy 50.4mpg CO2/BIK 147g/km, 28% Rivals BMW X1 120d xDrive M Sport, Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d 4Matic Sport