By: Candy Chung
The Jaguar E-Pace is the smallest offering in the Jaguar line up. The symbol of a mother jaguar followed by a cub is shown in various places throughout the E-Pace. Although it is the smallest vehicle in the line-up, it is still worthy of the Jaguar badge and sports car heritage.
My tester comes with the smaller of the two engines, P-250 which produces 247HP and 269lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 9 speed automatic with All-Wheel drive. The E-Pace competes with the likes of Audi Q3, BMW X1 and X2 and Volvo XC 40 etc. It has a short wheelbase and the physical length is also on the small side, but the interior and storage space are not compromised in my opinion. More on that later.
Sharing design cues with the sporty F-Type, the Jaguar E-pace has a very distinctive and sporty appearance for a compact SUV. The LED headlights and taillights are very much like the ones on the F-Type. I especially like the rear design of the E-Pace; it’s strikingly stylish and aggressive-looking, even more so than the bigger Jaguar SUV, the F-Pace.
Step into the E-Pace and you’re greeted with more design cues from the F-Type. The driver-oriented center console and leather-wrapped grab handle divides the driver and the passenger. The standard 10” touch screen controls navigation, audio, blue booth connectivity, parking cameras and park assist. There are also hard buttons for HVAC controls and dials for climate controls. The touch screen is large and easy to use and I didn’t find it hard to read on sunny days. There are also buttons for automatic start/stop and drive mode. The whole set up is very easy to use and I appreciate the simplistic design. The shifter seems like a clone from the F-Type and is a pleasure to use. As mentioned earlier, the interior and storage space are not compromised for its small size. The center armrest is huge and you can even remove the cup holders to store even bigger items. The glovebox and door bins are also generously-sized. The trunk has decent space and is capable of carrying at least 3 pieces of 25” suitcases. There is no under floor storage though. There are, however, hooks, netted pockets and a 12V outlet in the trunk. The rear seats offer fairly good space for two adults but carrying three would be a tough job. I was able to fit a rear-facing car seat in the E-Pace and the front passenger still has an acceptable sitting position. The only complaint I have is that the rear doors don’t open wide enough.
The E-Pace is a gem to drive. The engine doesn’t look all that powerful on paper but it is indeed very punchy and responsive. There is plenty of low-end torque and you can really feel it going from idle. There is a slight turbo-lag from kickdown but it’s not really an issue. The engine feels even more responsive than my BMW 3 series, which is very impressive for a small SUV. The steering is precise but it does feel heavy and not sharp enough for its engine. Also I would want the steering wheel to be a bit smaller. The 9-speed automatic gets the job done with no real issues. The Sport transmission mode keeps the RPM above 2000 so it’s always ready to accelerate. Cornering is great; the AWD E-Pace feels solid and planted at all times. There are several drive modes to choose from via the drive mode selector next to the shifter. There are Rain/Snow, Eco, Comfort and Dynamic. I drive in Comfort mode most of the time and occasionally in Dynamic mode if I want to have some more fun. The Dynamic mode quickens the throttle response. Steering feels about the same in all modes though. The ride is on the firm side so you will feel the imperfections of the road. My fuel economy is not bad at 11.5L/100km.
Starting at a little over $49,000, the Jaguar E-Pace is actually a vehicle I would recommend. I think it offers something different than the competition and is a gem to drive. The strikingly good looks, the responsive engine, the good quality cabin and surprisingly good amount of space make it a good option for shoppers looking for a luxury compact SUV.