Without a doubt one of the biggest ways the all-new E-Pace will appeal to potential owners is how it drives. Pushing the E-Pace around, it responds well enough but in the current times available right now, its not ground breaking. What you will find is its a great new alternative to a segment that is still new and growing with models like the Porsche Macan, Mercedes GLA and the upcoming BMW X2. Although Top Gear discovered ways the E-Pace can be improved, how it compares to the Macan in upcoming reviews is what we will be looking out for. Hopefully the upcoming E-Pace SVR will become the revelation we're looking for.
- TopGearThe car's accurate and responsive, but it's not so keen to dive for a marketing-friendly apex that it takes your head off. It's just sensible. Plus the front tyres aren't caught napping by attention-seeking jabs from the steering, so there's a greater sensation of grip to lean on. And it's so stable and level, so… car-like. This is not in any way intimidating to an SUVirgin, or ungainly. And because it's so crisp and yet less girthy than the F(at)-Pace, it's immediately less stressful to tack along in. Chuckable, even. The chassis is a proper Jaguar piece of work - one that you can apply your own style to, and get some rewards back from. Of course, this begs the bigger question that if you're so into your handling, why are you buying a tall, heavy, compromised crossover instead of a better-value XE, or another 'sports' saloon? A big, philosophical question for another day, perhaps. Right now, the E-Pace is the B-road benchmark in its segment. And here comes 'the but'…
This has had an effect on the ride. While the body control is superb for a crossover, the steering undistracted and the ability to take the edges off nasty rides a thing of wonder, this is a firm car. Well, this one, on 20-inch rims and R-Dynamic suspension is. Especially at low speed. This is the only E-Pace we've got to try so far, but it didn't have adaptive Comfy/Harder/Ouch modes, so this is a pretty safe bet on what you're going to get in most versions. It's never crashy, but it's not quite supple either, although in return you get the best handling small crossover on the planet. Is that good enough for a Jaguar, which out to breathe with the road instead of going all German and schporty? Again, the E-Pace is fine for a crossover, but no revelation.
Much like how it currently drives and performs, the interior is no revelation. Sophisticated, clean and easy on the eyes like most Jaguars out right now, most potential owners should remain neutral on the interior. While it does pull from the F-Type its easy to see how much more Jaguar can pull from that model in upcoming E-Pace trims, the F-Type's grab handle being one of them. Fortunately Jaguar had time to learn from the F-Pace resulting in improved materials, great fitment and merging of materials and hopefully much less rattling.
- Car And DriverThe interior design is clean and simple, modern mass-market Jaguar. The front seats are comfortable, but the cabin is positioned so far forward that the passenger will notice the wheel well intruding awkwardly into the footwell. The rear-seat measurements look competitive on paper, but in reality that space is inordinately vertical. Most adult passengers will struggle with kneeroom, even while sitting behind average-size front-seat occupants. Twenty-four cubic feet of cargo space, on the other hand, easily surpasses what most competitors can muster.
- TopGearChances are if the E-Pace's looks seduce you, the interior will seal the marriage. The front doors - which borrow Land Rover's trick of sealing below the sills, barring any splashes and detritus from gunging your legs - open into a cockpit that's unashamedly inspired by an F-Type's. Only, it's better.
For a kick off, the materials are just consistently better. There are great fillets of polished, ice-cool metal encircling the outermost vents, the scalloped door inserts, and the pistol-grip gear selector that's been chosen instead of the hateful rotating knob that makes life difficult every time you need a three-point turn or to parallel park. The leathers butt up tightly to reassuringly solid plastics, and the impression of space is way more prevalent than the F-Pace or XE, where hemmed-in doors and a tall central tunnel aim for 'Because Racecar' but give off an oppressive, bathtub-in-a-power-cut vibe.
Diesel models have been reported to send vibration back to the driver resulting in a not so plush and refined ride. Some might suggest this can be damaging to Jaguars reputation unless potential owners can justify getting the near 300 horsepower gasoline engine with its generous torque/power curve. Its a trade off of better range for refinement. Ultimately a hybrid powertrain will achieve levels of refinement an entry-level Jaguar deserves but there has been no mention of it so far.
- WhatCarYou feel a surprising amount of vibration through the diesel E-Pace's pedals and steering wheel. You could argue that this is just about acceptable in the Discovery Sport - a car built on utilitarian principles - but, in a Jaguar, you expect a little more polish.
The gruff engine note is still audible at a steady 70mph cruise and there's some wind noise around the mirrors and windscreen. Still, there isn't much road noise, so the E-Pace is, overall, a quieter cruising companion than the Q3 or X1.
The 298bhp petrol is, unsurprisingly, smoother and quieter than the diesel. It's just a shame that it doesn't sound a bit sweeter when you rev it out.
Performance is one area that Jaguar has been strong in and the E-Pace brings some of that to a segment that demands it. European owners get around 300lb-ft with the available diesel powertrains, however these do better with range rather than performance. Gasoline powertrains are where it stands out globally. a 2.0L i4 Turbocharged engine paired with an AWD system and torque distribution system come together to offer sports car like driving. Some have argued that the 4000 LBS curb weight is too much and hinders its performance thanks to a steel platform. We hope a move to aluminum like its bigger brother (the F-Pace) is in the near future.
- Driving.caOur time hooning the scenic coastal roads before tackling the mountainous twisty bits took place in a European-spec R-Dynamic S. Not only did this model provide the necessary torque to power out of hairpins, it gets the upgraded Active Driveline all-wheel-drive system. This setup can transfer almost all the engine torque (295 pound-feet) to either the front or rear axles in extreme conditions. During steady state cruising, Active Driveline disengages the AWD system, sending power only to the front axle, yet it will re-engage AWD within 300 milliseconds when a change in driving conditions is detected. Also, at the rear axle, two independent electronically controlled wet-plate clutches distribute torque between the rear wheels, with the capacity to direct 100 per cent of that torque to either the left or right rear wheels in 100 milliseconds. It was possible to induce understeer in some of the wetter, tighter corners, but the feeling was fleeting as Active Driveline diverted power and gathered up the Jaguar.
Starting from $38,600 (USD), if you don't mind some of its flaws like the interior design, heavy steel platform and average performance, then the E-Pace is for you. Still, it shines in many other ways that can outweigh its flaws listed here depending on what you want as an owner. Even lower trims like the E-Pace S and SE offer great value for a sub-$40,000 product. Making this even better is the ease of servicing from the intervals required right down to dealership experience.
- TopGearHere are the stats, so far as UK buyers goes. Half of all E-Paces will be R-Dynamic trim, which starts at £30,750. The D180 diesel will be the most popular engine: it's AWD only, and the manual starts at £30,790, without R-Dynamic trim. Spec-wise, the E-Pace is a complex beast, with many permutations of powertrain, toys and body kit, and a rapidly ramped-up price tag. With the UK's favourite spec, the R-Dynamic D180 coming in at over £35,000, it's going to need competitive PCP margins to compete with the X1s, Q2s and so on of this market. Competitive world, crossovers.
Service intervals are 24 months and range between 16,000 and 24,000 miles depending on model. Jaguar's dealers have a stellar reputation for service according to recent surveys, so at least getting your E-Pace looked after ought to be painless.
The cheapest version to run, according to official stats, is the basic D150 front-drive manual, which is also the cheapest E-Pace, at £28,500. It's good for a claimed 60.1mpg and 150g/km, but the D180 is only a single tax band higher, claims mid-50s to the gallon, and has a useful slug of extra performance, on paper. We'll report back on the E-Pace's sweet spot when we've driven further versions of the range, throughout 2018.