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Jaguar E-Pace 2018 Road Test

By Danny Cobbs

Despite being the obvious and smaller brother to the F-Pace, Jaguar hasn’t taken the usual ‘mini-me’ approach with the design of its Q3-rival - the E-Pace. It retains the bold, upright, Jaguar grille and haunches but the rest of its sharply creased bodywork makes it appear far sportier than the taller F-Pace. If the F-Pace is a fully grown Jaguar, then this is its cub.

Jaguar has adopted a more youthful approach for the interior as well. Unashamedly, they have replicated the layout of the F-Type sports car for the E-Pace, right down to centre console grab handle and joystick gear lever – so there’s little to complain about the driving position.

It certainly gives the impression of being sat in something quite prestige, yet when you delve a little deeper the use of hard plastics tends to cheapen the overall effect. Still, for a car which has a fairly small footprint there’s a surprisingly good amount of head and legroom for backseat passengers.

The boot space is a decent size, too - 577 litres expandable to 1234 litres when the rear seats are folded flat. That said, the steeply sloping rear screen may prove a challenge for anything as large as a fridge freezer. For family life it shouldn't pose too many problems, though. 

Jaguar E-Pace 2017 (7)

Navigation, audio and Bluetooth phone settings are found via the 10-inch touchscreen (which isn’t as slick to use as others in this class) while heater controls and other more basic functions are returned to analogue dials and buttons. There are also plenty of cubby holes and stowage compartments dotted around the cabin, plus five – yes, count them – USB ports, four 12V charging sockets and 4G wi-fi hotspots for up to eight devices.

Built in Austria and based upon the Range Rover Evoque platform, this is be the first Jaguar since the X-Type to be offered with a front wheel drive option. Does either of the points really matter a jot? Probably not. Jaguar sees the E-Pace as a global car with most buyers more interested in its curb-side kudos rather than its off-road ability or the country in which it was built.

Although the E-Pace will be offered with a choice of five engines – 3 petrol and 2 diesels - only the range-topping 240PS diesel and 300PS petrol were available for us to drive at its launch. Other powerplants in the range, all turbocharged four-cylinders from Jaguars new ‘Ingenium’ family, will include the entry-level 150PS diesel and the 180PS diesel, which is expected to be the best-seller.

There is no low-powered cheap petrol option though - just a 250PS variant and the 300PS model tested here. So, no matter which trim level you opt for, if you want a petrol-powered E-Pace it will have all–wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission. 

Jaguar E-Pace 2017 (9)

The E-Pace’s trim levels are a little complicated to fathom. We drove the ‘First Edition’ trim, which, at £47,800 is at the furthest end of the pricing scale and kitted out with every conceivable extra Jaguar could throw at it. The base model at £28,500, on the other hand, is the E-Pace in its simplest form. Between these two options are the HSE, R-Dynamic, R-Dynamic S and SE, plus R-Dynamic HSE. There’s also a choice of an active suspension system, if you so desire or really need.

So, does it deliver on that sporty drive promised by Jaguar? Well, not quite. And the reason for this is that it weighs-in at nearly two tonnes. Granted, it is driver focused and the steering is really sharp, responsive and quick. The problem is that you can feel all of its weight shifting about when changing direction, especially when braking hard.

Even with the bigger engines we drove the car's weight numbed the performance potential and the 5.9 second sprint time seemed very laboured indeed. Heaven only knows what it’s going to be like in the lesser powered engines. The ride is very stiff too, far firmer than say, the Mercedes-Benz or BMW equivalents.

The E-Pace is not without flaws then, but it does look stunning. And since Jaguar is seeking the young and style-conscious consumer, then the E-Pace will probably prove to be just as successful as the F-Pace, even if it isn't quite as good to drive as we were hoping. 

The Jaguar E-Pace is on sale now, with first deliveries in early 2018.

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