Jaguar E-Pace Launch Review
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
I was lucky enough to attend the European launch for Jaguar’s first SUV.
Much optimism surrounded the new F-PACE and the portents were good. It hit the market at just the right time as buyers abandoned the traditional saloon and estate car in favour of high-riding and more practical transport.
It therefore came as no surprise that the F-PACE has become the fastest selling Jaguar of all time and it is now a common sight on UK roads. It stands comparison with all its immediate rivals, matching them for luxury and surpassing them with sporting talent.
The ‘PACE’ family continues to grow and the I-PACE, Jaguar’s first all-electric car, is set to be revealed in the next few days.
Last week saw an exclusive UK Media Launch event for the new E-PACE, the third and smallest member of Jaguar’s burgeoning SUV range. Not wanting to miss this momentous occasion, I journeyed south to Cheltenham, with the promise of some great driving through the Brecon Beacons, culminating in a little light off-roading at Eastnor Castle.
The family resemblance is clear to see, but there are influences of the F-TYPE sports car both inside and out.
E-PACE shares its chassis with the hugely popular Range Rover Evoque, so either front or four-wheel drive are the options.
Jaguar’s latest four-cylinder engines provide the firepower. The duo of petrol motors, in 249 or 300PS form, comes with four-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Prices start at £35,160.
The diesel buyer has much more choice. Three power outputs are available; 150, 180 and 240PS. Entry level 150PS cars come with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive as standard, with options to upgrade to the self-shifting gearbox and power to all wheels. Prices start at £28,500.
The two more powerful diesel engines are exclusively four-wheel drive.
It is doubtful that six cylinder engines will be offered and those seeking a greener alternative will no doubt be drawn to the electric I-PACE.
Having selected the engine, the next choice is whether to go for a ‘regular’ E-PACE or sporty ‘R-Dynamic’ model, the latter boasting extra body detailing, twin exhausts and front foglights. Interior highlights include sports seats and gearshift paddles for the automatic gearbox.
Within each of these sub ranges there is a choice of four trim levels. As befitting the E-PACE’s premium aspirations, even the base model is well equipped. Therefore expect to find dual-zone climate control, smart alloy wheels and a rear view camera regardless of the spend.
‘S’ models add leather upholstery, satellite navigation and larger 18-inch alloy wheels, the sweet spot perhaps?
Next in the model hierarchy are ‘SE’ variants, resplendent with LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control and WiFi hotspot.
Those inclined to push the boat out, or up the PCP payment, will be drawn to the top flight HSE model. Better quality leather now adorns the seats, a digital instrument panel is fitted and you guessed it, even bigger 20-inch alloy wheels!
Interior packaging is excellent with space for four large adults to spread out. Rear headroom is surprisingly generous and £970 on the fixed panoramic roof is money well spent, bathing the interior with natural light.
Boot space is a generous 577 litres, so E-PACE is ready and able to tackle family duties. There is also plenty on cabin storage space and ample USB and 12-volt sockets for even the most power hungry passengers.
I was able to spend some time with two quite different models. First drive was petrol-powered (300PS) combined with R-Dynamic HSE trim. Although seemingly wanting for nothing, the list price of just over £50,000 was bolstered still further by £9,000 worth of options, all of which seemed to be worth having.
On paper the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine seems set to thrill with a 0 to 60mph sprint time of just under 6 seconds. However, in real world driving the engine needs to be worked quite hard to extract the best from it and as such economy suffers. It is not especially tuneful either.
Jaguar quotes 35.3mpg for the combined cycle. My spirited driving companion and I were around 10mpg shy of this figure over a route which included some gentle motorway cruising.
Far more impressive was the 180PS SE diesel variant we swapped into after a quick lunch stop. Expected to be the best selling engine in the range it is easy to see why. Producing a heady 430Nm of torque at just 1,750rpm, there is performance aplenty without needing to work the engine hard.
The nine-speed automatic gearbox aids brisk progress, seamlessly shifting between ratios as required. The engine can get a little vocal if fully extended, but this is mostly unnecessary.
Without R-Dynamic trim we were denied flappy paddles for the gearbox – they were not missed.
Up to 50.4mpg is said to be possible with this engine and I believe our recorded 41mpg to be none too shabby, especially as this included some off-road frivolity and a lack of steady cruising.
Once again our test car was well specified, so add around £8,000 to the £39,400 list price. Membership of the upper echelons of the PACE family comes at a price, but I doubt it will be a deterrent.
Jaguar was keen to stress the E-PACE’s sporting credentials and certainly in four-wheel drive form there’s fun to be had. The steering is nicely weighted, inspiring confidence when pressing on through the bends. The Jag rolls very little and yet such composure does not come at the expense of ride comfort, even on 20” wheels. This is important as many an E-PACE will be confined to the urban jungle. Variable dampers are an option.
Eastnor Castle provided the backdrop for a little light off-roading and with Land Rover know-how clearly at their disposal, the E-PACE tackled rutted tracks, a muddy field and wet grass with aplomb. It will do much more than most owners will require.
Outdoor types will like the optional Activity Key, a wearable band that allows the keys to be left in the vehicle when off exploring.
The Jaguar Remote Premium app can remotely start the engine, heat or cool the interior and check fuel levels or vehicle location.
The Touch Pro infotainment system is standard Jaguar fare. It works well enough, but others do it better. The lack of Apple Car Play and Android Auto is an obvious omission.
From my day spent behind the wheel I am certain that the new E-PACE will be another great hit for Jaguar. Sure to overtake the F-PACE as the company’s fastest seller, the premium pricing is unlikely to deter.
There is a space aplenty, lots of kit, a myriad of options and enough sporting prowess to keep the keener driver happy.
In diesel form at least, the E-PACE boasts excellent green credentials and the Jaguar website can guide you through a range of competitive finance options.
My choice, a 180PS diesel in ‘S R-Dynamic’ trim, £38,900 before raiding the options list.
Prices start at £28,500
Three diesel and two petrol Ingenium engines
Front-wheel drive on range-opening models
Four-wheel drive fitted to most.
Six speed manual, optional 9-speed automatic gearbox
Spacious interior, 577-litre boot
Class-leading interior stowage
Jaguar E-Pace Launch Review, 27th February 2018, 6:53 AM