New car review

Jaguar E-Pace test drive

Jaguar’s baby E-Pace may be the smallest SUV in its range, but can it offer big-car practicality and drive?

What’s it like inside?

As is the case with most Jaguars, the E-Pace’s cabin is very much focused around the driver, in this case thanks to a large sweeping section of trim which angles the displays, controls and driving mode buttons towards whoever’s behind the wheel.

It’s well executed; the buttons feels robust and chunky, while the switchgear is placed in just the right area. It’s fringed with harsher plastics, however, which is a shame as elsewhere through the cabin quality levels are kept reasonably high.

Rear seat legroom is reasonable enough, though it may be a little tight for taller passengers. You’ve also got a 425-litre boot to play with, and though this lags behind rivals in terms of overall size it’s square and easy to access.

What’s under the bonnet?

Though a range of petrol and diesel engines are available, our test car came fitted with a 250hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. It sits underneath the range-topping 300hp unit, but still manages to give the E-Pace a certain amount of spring in its step.

A healthy 365Nm of torque is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, pushing the E-Pace to 60mph in a respectable 6.6 seconds and onwards to a 143mph top speed.

Jaguar claims that it’ll return 36.7mpg combined too, while emitting 174g/km of CO2. It’s a surprisingly punchy unit and gives the E-Pace a decent whack of performance – more than you’d expect from a car in this class, in truth.

What’s it like to drive?

Driving the E-Pace is as you’d expect; predictable and safe. The steering itself has a good amount of weight to it, making it easy to accurately place the car on the road. It hasn’t got much feel, but then we’ve come to expect this of modern steering systems.

The ride is firm around town, which is no doubt worsened by the inclusion of 20-inch alloy wheels on our HSE R-Dynamic specification car. It does mean that it feels a touch fidgety when driving at lower speeds, though the ride settles down on the motorway. Once you’re there, the cabin remains quiet and is only impeded by a small amount of tyre road.

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The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is also impressively punchy, though it’s let down at times by the gearbox which lags and struggles to deliver power exactly when requested – this is noticeable most when pulling away from junctions or trying to exploit gaps in the traffic.

Verdict

The E-Pace may reside in a flourishing compact SUV segment, but it does make its presence known thanks to good looks, a reasonably involving drive and a good amount of standard equipment.

It’s let down somewhat by a choppy low-speed ride and some low-rent interior materials, but on the whole, it’s a product which will undoubtedly appeal to many people. It’s an expensive proposition, that’s for sure, but go easy with the spec and it’ll make a little more sense.

The Jaguar E-Pace is built in Britain.

Similar cars

Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC40

Key specifications

Model as tested: Jaguar E-Pace HSE R-Dynamic
Price (on-road): £47,060
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 250 hp
Torque: 365 Nm
Top speed: 143 mph
0-60mph: 6.6 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 36.7 mpg
CO2 emissions: 174 g/km

Jack Evans
Jack Evans
Articles by Jack Evans are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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