14 March 2018

Review: Jaguar E-Pace

When Jaguar produced its first SUV, the F-Pace, they were late to the premium crossover game, writes Brian Byrne. But that didn't stop the car becoming the best selling one in Jaguar's range. It also became my favourite.

Then came the E-Pace. Smaller, but not just a reduced version of the larger car. It has a more sporty sense about it. A bit more coiled strength in the rear quarters design, perhaps. From a certain front angle, it even looks like a coupe, though this is definitely a car for full-sized people front and rear.

Inside too, the style and the treatment is a tad more traditional than tech-modern. Though tech it truly is, with my review car having all the mods and cons expected in a premium brand. What I immediately liked was the relative simplicity of the dashboard and instrumentation, and the excellent integration of all their parts to true driver focus.

Those big rotary knobs for climate control should be copied by all carmakers, with the seat-heating incorporated for those who like that. Those who wish to poke at a screen for all the workings can do so, but in the critical elements, there's real switchgear here.

I also smiled wide when I saw the auto gear-shifter — the horrid rotary knob is not in this model, replaced by an intuitive 'stick' shift that is nevertheless nicely electronic.

It goes without saying, almost, that the finish and fit of the E-Pace would be right on message with the position of a premium brand. In the review R-Dynamic SE version, it included leather seats and trim, the seats electrically adjusted and with memory. A high-end sound system and equally upper end navigation fitted perfectly with wherever we were going.

It may be a 'small' Jaguar crossover but there is ample room front and rear for occupants, especially with no dearth of knee-room or head space for those in back. A good cargo capacity matches with the clever interior packaging in a relatively short vehicle.

The core engine for the E-Pace is the 2.0 Ingenium diesel developed by JLR themselves, and in my time with the car it was remarked on by passengers as being exceptionally quiet. I agreed. The diesels come in 150hp, 180hp and 240hp power options, and there's also a brace of high-power petrols in the mix.

The engine layout is a first for Jaguar, being transverse, and that means there are FWD versions of the E-Pace available. The review car was AWD, with the 150hp diesel. All in all, a very decent match.

The car can be switched through different driving modes, and elements can be configured separately — the steering was a tad light for my taste, for instance, and I could have had it firmed up through all modes.

I strongly suspect that the F-Pace has now been supplanted as my favourite Jaguar by this one. It will be interesting to see how it affects the overall sales mix after a year of being in the market.

PRICE: From €36,000; Review version from €50,450. WHAT I LIKED: The excellent interior space and ambience. RATING: 5/5.