Jaguar’s E-Pace compact sports SUV follows on from the brand’s first foray into Range Rover territory with the F-Pace.
While its big brother might have raised an eyebrow or two on announcement, its success commercially and critically means that the E-Pace is a natural next step for Jaguar rather than a gamble.
Like the F-Pace, the E-Pace takes SUV ride-height, comfort and practicality and pairs it with a sporty design so sharp it ought to come with a safety warning.
Interior space is pretty good and short overhangs mean the SUV is only 4,395mm long, but seats five in comfort with rear legroom of 892mm and a 577-litre boot.
The interior of the First Edition model sent for us to test was full of high-grade leather and solid-feeling plastics, but I couldn’t help but feel it failed to match the flair of the car’s stylish exterior.
Unlike the F-Pace, or the various saloons in the Jaguar range, the E-Pace has done away with the rotary gear selector and doesn’t feature any rotating infotainment systems or air vents when you press the ignition. You do get a satisfyingly throaty roar from the 246bhp, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, however.
Jaguar E-Pace First Edition
Engine: 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 6.6 seconds
CO2 emissions: 162g/km
The nine-speed automatic transmission might not pop out of the dashboard, but it changes sharply and seems fairly unflappable (poor choice of words,of course like most modern high-end autoboxes it does, in fact, come with flaps).
Our test car came with 20-inch diamond finish alloy wheels which, while pretty stunning to look at, seemed to transfer every bump and scrape of the pockmarked city roads to the base of my spine via the driver’s seat. On the open road though, everything was far more settled.
The steering felt direct and carried a weight to it missing from many electrically-assisted set-ups. This did mean that at low-speed manoeuvring it erred on the side of heavy.
The other problem is the rear view, or lack thereof. All cars come with reversing camera as standard through a large, and very sharp, high-definition monitor on the dash, although the view from that camera was slightly unnatural and took a bit of getting used to as it distorted the proportions slightly making everything seem a bit taller.
If I’m going to nitpick, and focus on small inconveniences like that, it seems only fair that I also spend a moment mentioning some of the inconsequential things about the E-Pace that I actually loved.
The colour (Caldera Red) looked great, and combined with the sharp styling, made it a proper head turner, The ebony leather ‘Windsor’ seats looked stunning and were very, very comfortable and – my favourite touch – the projection of a jaguar walking along a tree branch that projects onto the pavement when you open the driver door.
It’s certainly not the cheap option of that trio, and has the least impressive interior. It’s great fun to drive though – and neither of those two competitors is going to turn heads in quite the same way as the E-Pace.