New Jaguar models seem to arrive in a flurry and the E-Pace is the latest such venture. A crossover that is set to rival the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and the Mercedes GLA
The E-Pace sits atop the steel Evoque platform and is the first available with front-wheel drive since the ghastly X-Type. The confusion with the name is that it suggests electric but no, there is no such version available as the I-Pace takes that crown and damn good it is too as l mentioned in my recent review. FWD is available, of course, and why wouldn’t you?
If l listed all the models available in the range we would be here all day so let’s cover that by saying there are lots. Diesel and petrol models, from 148bhp to 296bhp and everything in between. Mine is the P300, petrol with 296bhp that makes a decent fist of shifting its 1.9 tonne bulk and will deliver 60mph in around 6 seconds. It handles well with a great level of grip and when you aim it into that corner, you can have total faith that it will do what you tell it and that’s no mean feat in a fairly high riding SUV – sorry, crossover. Even on huge 20 inch wheels, the car never feels unsettled or brash.
Inside, it is definitely F-Type territory and it will seduce you. It is superbly put together with decent seats and well paid out dash. The gear shifter is the pistol grip in place of the rotating gear knob but, personally, l don’t like it. It’s too fiddly to get into the right gear without looking down and when l am parking or three-point turning, l don’t want to look down. My left hand is very used to doing this without having to look so surely a step backwards.
All occupants are well catered for with four 12v charging points and five USB connections serving the front and rear and the car’s own 4G wi-fi hotspot will cater for up to 8 devices, and a 6-footer can sit behind a 6-footer – just.
There is a great feeling of space and this is not a large car so bravo, and there are seats and wheel adjustments galore so getting comfy for anyone, of any size, is a breeze. Setting up the tech is easy with the 12.3-inch InControl Touch Pro media centre. Load space is good but not huge and beats the Q2 but fails against the BMW X1. But, this is a much prettier car than the BMW and a more engaged drive, l would venture.
The race to see how many gears manufacturers can get into a gear box continues apace, with nine ratios here but you won’t notice as it is all pretty seamless unless you screw it up by trying to use the paddle shifts. Don’t – the car doesn’t like it and does much better without your clumsy human interference.
The best seller in the UK, allegedly, will be the D180 offering 178bhp and 55.4mpg and that matches what l feel is its nearest rival, the Volvo XC40. The Volvo is a great car but l still think the E-Pace pips it to the post but then, that’s a very personal choice.
Jaguar have been going through a torrid time of late but we might be seeing a glimpse on the horizon of a rebirth in the entire car industry and the E-Pace is a great fit for a resurging JLR. I spoke to head of Harwood’s Business, Mike Harris and the company have just had their best ever quarter.
With cars like this, and the I-Pace, and the F-Pace SVR that is coming soon, l think the company is set for a glorious future if we silly humans stop worrying about what will power our cars in the future and just get on with buying cars that are available today, all will be well.
Model tested: 300PS HSE R-Dynamic
Speed: 0-60 5.9 seconds
Economy: 35.3 mpg combined
Price from: £27,845
Price as tested: £47,330