Love them or loathe them SUV’s and crossovers are big business, with the trend looking likely to continue more manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. Jag did so a few years back with the F-Pace, but that left a gap in the smaller, crossover segment, cue the E-Pace.
However, it’s not just a market segment the E-Pace fills; it also marks the entry point into the Jaguar brand, you can get one on your drive for as little as £28,930. That’s cheaper than a Discovery Sport and even the Evoque.
Our S model starts at £32,645, but with options that price was bumped up to around the £40k mark. It still had the entry-level D150 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine with a manual gearbox.
At first sight, the E-Pace seems like a 75% scale model of the F-Pace, take a closer look, and you’ll find the subtle differences.
Shorter dimensions make the baby Jag appear to sit higher on the road; everything is compressed lengthways, making it look chunky but still small.
Headlights are now an upright affair as you’d find on the F-Type, there’s plastic cladding around the arches, and the rear C pillar is far smaller.
It still looks like a Jag though. There’s that power bulging bonnet, gorgeous rear lamps and side vents on the wings.
Our entry-level diesel engine powers the front wheels only, making it the first front-wheel drive Cat in quite a while. You can opt for all-wheel drive for around £1,800 more, the same in auto guise will set you back a further £1,800.
148 BHP is enough to make the E-Pace feel semi-spritely, 0-60 is achieved in 9.5 seconds. The most potent 2.0-litre turbo petrol model will get you to the 60 mark in just 6.1 seconds, but be prepared to pay nigh on £45k for the privilege.
Jaguar market the E-Pace as ‘Jaguar E‑PACE is Jaguar’s first compact SUV. It’s a unique combination of looks, agility and dynamic driving.’
That last part about the ‘dynamic driving’ is questionable, at least in our 2.0-litre diesel variant. It feels like a bigger car than it is, there isn’t that bereft, bantamweight nature I was expecting. Seeing as the XE is so sweetly set up, I was hoping for something along the lines of Porsche’s Macan…but £15k cheaper.
When you look into the numbers, you find that the E-Pace weighs pretty much the same as its bigger bro, the F-Pace. Our model is the lightest in the range and tips the scales at 1700kg; the F weighs 1775kg.
Over every day driving it’s a comfy cruiser, shielding you entirely from the rough acne scarred roads of our fair land. Push it more than that, and you’ll find the body roll is well controlled, but it never entirely comes alive, it lacks that agile, dynamic nature.
You don’t feel like you could hustle it down a B lane as you could with a Macan, in that respect, the Porsche feels like a hot hatch regarding its composure, something the E-Pace just can’t compete with.
As a crossover, on the other hand, it’s superbly satisfying. Turn in is direct, and you can place the E-Pace easily on the road. Steering weight builds as you give it more lock and it’s surprisingly candid. One of the bugbears was the manual gearbox though.
Jag aren’t known for their manual boxes, and it shows. The throw is heavy, getting it into gear is notchy, and while a weighty shift is nice in a sportier car, the E-Pace doesn’t feel sporty. The weight isn’t needed, it should feel effortless in a crossover of this size.
In fact, just don’t get the manual, the ZF ‘boxes that JLR use are sublime. That means you need to fork out £33k for the AWD auto.
MPG is rated at 50.4 over Urban driving; we solely used the E-Pac around town with only one longer jaunt on A roads. We only managed 36 MPG so a long way off the claimed ability.
Hopping inside and you’ll find a familiar Jag layout, you’ve got everything driver focussed with a grab handle for the passenger like in the F-Type. The angle seems slightly steeper which means in sunlight it can be difficult or impossible to see the infotainment screen.
You also notice the ‘built to a price’ nature of the dash; there’s a lot more plastic than leather on show. That’s no big issue as the quality is still high, all the touch points are rather svelte, aluminium door handles, same interior switches across the range, the ‘soft grain’ steering wheel is an optional extra but felt nice in hand.
Rear seat legroom is spacious, while the headroom is ok for average sized humans, but anyone 6 foot or lamppost tall will struggle.
Boot space measures in at an impressive 577 litres, that’s 2 litres more than the Evoque. A low lip also makes loading a breeze. There’s a handy storage net for the right wheel well, another strap just behind that and a 12v power socket as standard.
There are some lovely Easter Eggs hidden around the E-Pace, a small jaguar cub and a large cat sit in the bottom left of the windscreen, the same image is projected onto the floor via the puddle lights at night.
There’s also some Jaguar print on the rubber mats in the centre console, a few more of these would have been nice and definitely appeal to the younger audience that the E-Pace is aimed at.
Whilst the E-Pace is a great crossover, it lacks some of that Jaguar dynamism when it comes to the handling. The odd thing being that its bigger brother the F-Pace has it by the bucket load.
At 29k it’s a bit of a bargain, just don’t spend any more than £32k as the Volvo XC40 is a far superior offering.