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Jaguar E-Pace plug-in hybrid review

We think the Jaguar E-Pace is better than it's given credit for, but would suggest a regular petrol model over the pricier plug-in hybrid

Summary

We think the Jaguar E-Pace is better than it's generally given credit for, but would suggest a regular petrol model over the pricier plug-in hybrid. There's also too much form over function throughout, which hurts its everyday practicality.
Design
5
Comfort
6
Driving experience
8
Value for money
5
Safety
9

Summary

We think the Jaguar E-Pace is better than it's generally given credit for, but would suggest a regular petrol model over the pricier plug-in hybrid. There's also too much form over function throughout, which hurts its everyday practicality.

Make and model: Jaguar E-Pace P300e R-Dynamic HSE
Description: Small SUV, petrol-electric plug-in hybrid
Price range: £52,480 (plus options)

Jaguar says: “The compact performance SUV with sports car looks”

We say: It’s getting long in the tooth and competes in a very crowded marketplace, but the E-Pace still has something to offer the right buyer.


Introduction

This is the updated Jaguar E-Pace, which was given a major mid-life facelift in late 2020 after its original launch in 2017. We’re driving the plug-in hybrid version, which pairs a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and battery.

The E-Pace is the smallest model in the Jaguar family and its styling, both in side and out, is inspired by the original version of the Jaguar F-Type sports car. It’s a cousin to the Range Rover Evoque, although it looks and feels a generation behind the smallest Range Rover.

What is it?

The Jaguar E-Pace is a premium-price small SUV, in the same sort of ballpark as the Audi Q2, BMW X2, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40. You can have your choice of diesel, petrol or – as we’re driving here – plug-in hybrid power.

As the E-Pace approaches its twilight years, the model range has been slimmed down somewhat, with all models now produced in variations of Jaguar’s sporty-ish R-Dynamic specification.

The plug-in hybrid has a form of all-wheel drive, with the petrol engine driving the front wheels and the electric motor (assuming you have charge in the battery) driving the rear wheels.

Who is this car aimed at?

The small SUV segment is one of the most fiercely contested sectors of the new car market, with pretty much every major manufacturer getting involved.

The Jaguar E-Pace leans towards style rather than practicality in pretty much every way, so it’s going to suit singles or couples with either no kids or smaller kids who can fit comfortably in the fairly cramped rear seats. It would also be best if you don’t want to carry too much luggage.

Price-wise, the E-Pace is higher-end than most cars as well, so you’ll need to be happy shelling out a premium to put one of these cars in your driveway. The Jaguar is very much pitched against brands like Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW, so its price tag and monthly finance instalments fall very much into this region.

Who won’t like it?

If you’re looking for practicality, or value for money, you’re probably looking in the wrong place here. If you want to regularly carry adults in the back seats over longer distances, you’ll want something a bit larger. And the boot has less space than some superminis, so you couldn’t fit much luggage for four people in there anyway.

First impressions

It’s been around for about six years, so the Jaguar E-Pace is certainly a familar sight these days. It’s still a good-looking car – particularly when wearing diamond-turned 20-inch alloy wheels, like our test car – but there’s no denying that it’s starting to look a bit last-generation compared to some of its rivals. The good news, though, is that the styling isn’t going to put anyone off (have you seen any new BMW model lately?).

Step inside and the feeling continues. Everything looks elegant enough, including more styling details borrowed from the F-Type sports car, but it’s no longer state-of-the-art. The other thing that was immediately noticeable was that it was smaller inside than I remember, a feeling not helped by an all-black leather interior.

As part of the E-Pace’s mid-life update, the car’s infotainment system got a complete overhaul. The old system was replaced with JLR’s latest Pivi Pro system, which provides a bigger touchscreen and slicker programming. However, it’s still mounted lower down in the dashboard than newer cars, which tend to have the screen mounted up at the very top of the dashboard so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road for as long.

We like: Styling is clean and neat, although starting to look dated
We don’t like: Cabin is tight and layout not as convenient as newer rivals

What do you get for your money?

Once we’ve got the first impressions out of the way, it’s time to look a bit harder at exactly what you’re getting for your money with the Jaguar E-Pace.

In 2023, the range is more limited than it has been in previous years. All E-Pace models are provided in various levels of Jaguar’s R-Dynamic trim, which means big wheels and sporty styling touches like chunky bumpers and sports seats.

In terms of equipment, the levels are S, SE Black and HSE Black as of May 2023. The ‘Black’ bit signifies replacing most of the usual chrome with black trim. Pricing currently starts at just under £43K for a 160hp petrol automatic R-Dynamic S, rising to more than £54K for the 309hp plug-in hybrid R-Dynamic HSE that we’re testing here.

Standard and optional features change regularly on most models, as manufacturers balance costs and supply issues. This is normal, but means you need to check any specific vehicle you’re looking at to make sure all the features you’re expecting to be getting are still included. Our test car was only a few months old, yet specifications were already different to brand new vehicles available to order at time of writing.

As the top-spec model in the E-Pace range, the HSE/HSE Black comes loaded up with most of the available kit as standard. Seats are full leather (actual cow hide, not ‘artificial leater’ or ‘vegan leather’), and our car had an £800 seat upgrade that provided heated and cooled front seats that adjusted electrically with memory functionality. The same pack also offers heated rear seats.

Our car also had an excellent Meridian sound system, which may or may not be standard (it’s one of those features that seems to move between standard and optional equipment). It’s one of the better brand-name stereo upgrades in the market, and well worth the extra £350 – assuming it’s not standard on the car you happen to be looking at.

What’s the Jaguar E-Pace like inside?

There’s a lot to both like and dislike inside the E-Pace’s cabin – which is also affected by the standard and optional features on the car you’re looking at.

Our test car, for example, had a (standard) all-black leather interior and (optional) privacy glass, which made the interior feel very dark and cave-like. This is also not helped by the usual new car problem of quite shallow windows, especially in the rear seats, and thick pillars all round. However, opening the blind on the (optional) panoramic roof to let more light in made a huge difference. Choosing a lighter colour leather – grey and red (as shown in the photos below) are also available – would also help.

Up front, things are generally pretty good. The seats are well bolstered but still comfortable on longer journeys and the driving position is good. You have to stretch a bit to reach the far side of the touchscreen, which is a fairly common problem with most cars these days, but most controls are close at hand.

In the back, it’s a bit squeezy. Headroom is OK but there’s not a lot of kneeroom or legroom for adults. The rear door shape and height off the ground can also make getting in and out a bit tricky, both for adults and especially for kids in car seats. Our six-year-old son found it awkward compared to our usual family estate.

The boot is very much on the small size – in fact, it has less load space than you get in a Skoda Fabia supermini hatchback. On a weekend away with three people, we pretty much filled it up despite only having small bags and the usual family paraphenalia.

On the plus side, the rear seats fold down in a 40:20:40 format rather than the usual 60:40 split, which gives extra flexibility for carrying longer loads. There’s also a separate section under the floor where you can keep you charging cables on the plug-in hybrid version.

Jaguar’s latest Pivi Pro infotainment system is a massive improvement over its previous effort, but it’s still easier and more convenient to use either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. These functions are also wireless, which is great, but the wireless charging plate isn’t designed brilliantly. My phone would slide off it the very first time the car went over a bump on each journey, so when I did need the phone to charge on a longer trip, I ended up plugging it in to make sure it actually worked.

The touchscreen is a good size at 11 inches, but unfortunately the software designers seem to have spent too much time trying to make the display look pretty rather than make it easy to use. The icons and text are too small and the colour choices don’t offer enough contrast to easily recognise what you’re looking for while driving. This makes the system harder to use than it should be, and gets annoying – especially if you like jumping between radio stations while you’re driving. I got fed up with it so we ended up on Absolute 80s radio for a whole weekend road trip, which wasn’t universally popular among all passengers…

Because the screen sits relatively low in the dashboard, it’s also angled upwards. However, that means it suffers from reflections on a sunny day, again making the screen hard to read.

Jaguar does get plus points for keeping the air-conditioning controls as physical knobs rather than integrating them into the touchscreen. That mens adjusting the temperature or fan or seat heating on the fly is quick and easy, rather than hunting through touchscreen menus.

We like: Quality materials, comfortable front seats, standard 40:20:40 split rear seat
We don’t like: Low-mounted touchscreen with poorly designed graphics, small boot, awkward rear door shape

What’s under the bonnet?

The P300e plug-in hybrid version of the E-Pace that we’re driving here consists of a petrol engine and an electric motor. The engine is a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder unit that produces 200hp and drives the front wheels. The electric motor produces 109hp and drives the rear wheels. When the two power units work together, you have an all-wheel-drive car.

Officially, the P300e powertrain produces 309hp (which you’ll have noticed is the combined total of 200hp from the petrol engine and 109hp from the electric motor) and can go from 0-60mph in 6.6 seconds. It has an official fuel consumption of 182mpg and an electric-only range of 37 miles. However, as is always the case with plug-in hybrids, most of these figures are absolutely useless.

For a start, you only get the full 309hp – and therefore the quoted acceleration figures – if you have enough electricity in the battery to run the electric motor. Once that runs out, which it does quite easily, you basically have a 200hp petrol engine hauling around a few hundred kilos of ballast.

The fuel consumption figure of 182mpg is also complete nonsense, although that’s not Jaguar’s fault. The problem lies with the official EU/UK test methods that every car manufacturer is required to use. There is no possible way you can drive this car for 182 miles using only the electricity from the battery and a gallon (4.5 litres) of petrol.

Officially, the battery will give you enough charge for 37 miles of driving. In the real world, expect 20-25 miles. Once that runs out, fuel economy isn’t too flash. Over a week of mixed driving, including a 170-mile road trip with no opportunity to charge on the way, we averaged about 28mpg when the E-Pace was running as a purely petrol car. Once batttery contributions were included, the overall week’s average was about 31mpg. That’s not great, and you’d expect a regular petrol model to do better (as well as being thousands of pounds chceaper to buy in the first place).

To get the best value from this or any other plug-in hybrid, you need to be charging up the battery pretty much every time you stop. So if you don’t have a charging point at home, or you do lots of longer trips, it’s a tough ask to make this version of the E-Pace work for you.

While on the subject of charging, the E-Pace comes with two cables as standard – a Mode 3, Type 2 cable for charging at a wallbox or public charger, and a three-point plug cable if you don’t have access to a proper charging point. Both cables are 5m long, which is longer than some vehicles get (although we’d prefer it to be a bit longer to give owners more flexibility when parking near charging points).

One other point of credit for Jaguar is that the E-Pace has an above-average reliability record, according to data provided exclusively to The Car Expert by our commercial partner, MotorEasy. We have often criticised Jaguar Land Rover for the poor reliability records of its other models, so it’s very pleasing to see that the E-Pace has seemed to avoid any major issues to date. It’s also a good sign if you’re considering a used E-Pace.

What’s the Jaguar E-Pace like to drive?

Being a plug-in hybrid, the E-Pace P300e driving experience is like reviewing three cars in one.

The E-Pace feels nicest running as a pure EV, when everything is quiet and smooth. Like any EV, it’s responsive so you can nip around town or into gaps in traffic very easily.

The electric motor isn’t as powerful as you’d get on a full EV, but it’s more than enough for boring urban driving. Although it is only a 109hp motor, performance is better than it suggests on paper. Electric motors generate all their torque immediately without needing to rev up, so you get very good response as soon as you touch the throttle. Once your speed builds up past about 30mph, the petrol motor needs to join in the action to maintain your acceleration.

When it’s running purely as a petrol car, things aren’t as serene. The engine sounds gruff and is fairly noisy, even at half-throttle. You certainly hear about it when you put your foot down to overtake another car, or enter a motorway off the slip road. Everything is also quite sluggish – which is not surprising, given that your 309hp car is now only a 200hp car.

Working as a hybrid with both power units operating together, performance is obviously a lot sharper, as you’d expect when the full 309hp is at your disposal. It’s still noisy but at least you get acceleration to match. To be honest, it still doesn’t feel like there’s 300-odd horsepower on tap, but at least you can pull out into traffic with confidence.

In terms of ride, the big 20-inch wheels look good but they don’t make for smooth going over the UK’s potholed roads. The combination of a short car with big wheels makes for a bumpy journey on anything but the smoothest surfaces. Also, as an aside, you don’t get a spare wheel for when one of those low-profile 20-inch tyres pop…

The driving dynamics are are pretty good, which is usually a strong point for most Jaguar cars. Steering is pretty good, with more feel than you usually get on modern cars. The handling is responsive and predictable, which inspires confidence within a very short distance. It’s certainly an easy car to jump in and drive without having to worry too much about what’s going on underneath you.

The brakes are similarly predictable, rather than being over-assisted like some rivals (for example, most Volkswagen/Audi/SEAT/Skoda models). On the other hand, the turning circle isn’t great, and we ended up doing more three-point turns and fewer U-turns than we would in some other cars.

Overall, it reflects on a high standard of engineering from Jaguar, provided you can live with the bumpy ride. Given the popularity of big wheels and sports suspension on most premium European cars, presumably most buyers in this market are happy with that trade-off. If you enjoy driving your car rather than just steering it from A to B, the Jaguar E-Pace is better than most small SUVs.

We like: Steering, handling and braking are all top notch, which puts the driver at ease very quickly
We don’t like: Average performace and fuel economy once the battery runs out, ride quality not the smoothest

How safe is it?

The Jaguar E-Pace was tested by safety body Euro NCAP back in 2017 when it was first launched, earning a five-star rating and good scores in every category. Although Euro NCAP’s safety standards have been raised in recent years, you can still be confident that the E-Pace will be good at both avoiding an accident and helping protect you if an impact can’t be avoided.

Jaguar certainly deserves credit for including almost all of the safety kit as standard equipment, rather than palming off features to the options list. The only exception is that entry-level R-Dynamic S models don’t get blind spot assist and the rear collision warning systems as standard.

The lane-keeping assist system feels bit weak compared to many other cars. Although a lot of drivers don’t like a car that tries to override you if you change lanes without overtaking, it does tend to defeat the purpose of the system if it makes no real effort to help keep you in your lane.

Summary

The Jaguar E-Pace is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s definitely more enjoyable to drive than most small SUVs, and its compact size makes it easy to live with on UK streets and in UK parking spaces. But the relatively poor turning circle is annoying if you regularly need to manouevre in tight spaces.

The level of standard kit is good, particularly the safety equipment, compared to its rivals. Of course, it will never win a value-for-money contest against a Skoda or MG, but the little Jaguar is not really competing in that segment of the marketplace.

For most customers, the extra cost for the plug-in hybrid version is probably not worth the money and you’d be better off with a conventional petrol model (or even a diesel, if you must). If you have the ability to charge the car at home or work every day, so that you’re maximising the EV side of the equation, it may work out economically. But you still have do a lot of short trips between regular charging to make the numbers add up.

If you’re looking at a used E-Pace, it’s definitely worth trying to fit a post-2020 model into your budget. The E-Pace range overall certainly benefitted from its mid-life update, with meaningful improvements throughout the car even if the styling didn’t change much along the way.

Should you buy a Jaguar E-Pace? According to our awrd-winning Expert Rating Index, the overall E-Pace range has a score of 56% based on 24 UK reviews, which is low compared to rivals (the related Range Rover Evoque has a score of 74%, for example). In blunt, objective comparison terms, Jaguar’s prioritising of form over function throughout the E-Pace carries a penalty.

That doesn’t make it a bad car as such, but it does mean that the target market for people who are really going to like it is narrower than for most rivals. If you’re coming out of a 2+2 coupé, like an Audi A5 or BMW 4 Series, then a small boot and lack of rear seat space won’t be too much of a concern.

We think the Jaguar E-Pace is better than it’s generally given credit for, but would suggest a regular petrol model over the pricier plug-in hybrid. Even if you charge it regularly, it’s still tough to see how the plug-in version stacks up for most people.

E-Pace highlights

  • Styling still looks good after six years on sale
  • Build quality and materials are good
  • Better to drive than most small SUVs
  • Excellent safety rating and standard equipment

E-Pace lowlights

  • Interior space is tight
  • Infotainment systems is still off the pace
  • Fuel economy is unimpressive
  • Plug-in hybrid not worth the extra money

Similar cars

Audi Q3 | BMW X1 | BMW X2 | Cupra Ateca | Cupra Formentor | DS 3 Crossback | Lexus UX | Mercedes-Benz GLA | Range Rover EvoqueVolvo XC40

Key specifications

Model tested: Jaguar E-Pace P300e R-Dynamic HSE
Price as tested: £58,620 (including £6,085 of options)
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol plus electric motor
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 309 hp
Torque: 540 Nm
Top speed: 134 mph
0-62 mph: 6.6 seconds

Battery range: 35 miles
Fuel consumption (combined): 182 mpg
CO2 emissions: 35 g/km
Euro NCAP safety rating: Five stars (2017)
TCE Expert Rating: 56% (as of May 2023)

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.
We think the Jaguar E-Pace is better than it's generally given credit for, but would suggest a regular petrol model over the pricier plug-in hybrid. There's also too much form over function throughout, which hurts its everyday practicality.Jaguar E-Pace plug-in hybrid review