Jaguar’s small luxury SUV looks lovely and embodies the ‘big Jag’ experience, but big-ness also works against it
The facelifted Jaguar E-Pace is a small car that feels like a big one. For a small luxury SUV, that gives it more pluses than minuses.
First launched in 2018, the first-gen E-Pace brought Coventry to the lucrative small lux suv segment with the car becoming the immediate headliner for the brand here. In our review of that car, we praised its handling, design, and its ticking of the practicality boxes too.
Like its big brother, the F-Pace, the E-Pace is now facelifted – as covered in our news story – and that means minor improvements to the front end, the most obvious being the new LED headlight clusters with the ‘double J’ DRL signature, but it does make the car look fresher.
As mentioned in our review of the facelifted F-Pace, Jaguar doesn’t need a coupe-styled alternative to the E- and F-Paces because they’re already quite slinky in the appearance department, and that as we know, is a crucial factor for this segment.
The downside here is thick pillars that do limit driver vision. At least the 360-degree parking camera is excellent, and helps in tight spots.
The inside, just like the F-Pace, now has a digital screen as the driver’s instrument panel, but the centrepiece is the 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system. As far as full-touchscreen systems come, this one is very good: Classy presentation, sharp graphics, and a simple layout, plus the requisite Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Below that, the revised climate control section is a big step up over the old, plasticky one, with nice knurling on the knobs and a heritage badge on the gloss black fascia. Further down is a usefully-angled smartphone charger/cubby hole, and a new-design gearshifter.
The E-Pace had a nice cabin from launch, with plenty of premium materials and design, but these improvements go some way to raising the tone of the cabin. Small details count too, like the jaguar prints on the smartphone charger surface, and the ‘E-Pace’ badge on the shifter surround.
Space and practicality remain the same as before – decent, but not outstanding. Three adults will fit the rear bench with a squeeze, and 494-litres of boot space. Head room isn’t generous though – tall drivers above 1.8-metres – might have hair brushing the headliner.
But the E-Pace packs a bigger surprise, or rather a smaller one, under the bonnet: The previous 2.0-litre engine is now downsized to a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder power unit. Fun fact: This is only the second front-wheel drive Jag in relatively recent history, the previous one being the XE predecessor, the X-Type from 2001.
Jaguar also says it’s a mild hybrid, but it’s on the very mild side of the hybrid scale. There’s an integrated starter motor/generator which claws back energy, but it doesn’t add power or torque to the 1.5’s output, so in this case it’s simply extended start-stop.
From behind the wheel, most drivers won’t know nor care that it’s front wheel drive (BMW learnt that with its 1 Series). The inline three isn’t far off from an inline four, and there are no unpleasant vibes or harshness. It also gives a slightly more interesting purr to the exhaust note, while the acceleration is sprightly, matching segment rivals. The big car dynamics come in as a plus here, with the car displaying planted, pleasing handling even at high speed.
But if it has big car dynamics, that’s because it has considerable mass – the E-Pace’s kerbweight of 1,783kg is a good 200kg more than segment rivals, and it suffers because of that.
The ride quality is typical small SUV, with jitter over small imperfections despite the high profile tyres, and there is some wind and road noise at speed, and you can feel vibrations from rougher tarmac in the steering wheel itself. It also feels less sprightly and agile at times: what gives it a centered feeling of stability at high speeds also translates to inertia at lower speeds.
The fuel consumption is also on par with a midsized SUV rather than a small one – we saw no better than 9.0L/100km even with considerable highway running, and that makes it thirstier than the competition. The good news is it does qualify for a VES B rating, which keeps the pricing relatively competitive.
That’s a pity, since this is where a less mild hybrid system would earn its keep. The facelifted E-Pace ticks most of the small, luxury SUV boxes with its big-car experience in a small car body, but that does work against it too. If Jaguar had given the E-Pace more electric pace, that would give it a considerable jolt in the segment race.
|Engine||1,498cc, inline 3, turbocharged|
|Power||178hp at 5700rpm|
|Torque||221Nm at 3600-5200rpm|
|Electric Motor||Regeneration only|
|Battery||Lithium Ion, unknown capacity|
|System Power||Not applicable|
|System Torque||Not applicable|
|VES Band||B / Neutral|
|Price||S$194,944 with COE and VES|
|Verdict||Jag’s small SUV feels grown up – techy, luxurious and is nice to drive, but its ‘bigness’ also works against it in ride and efficiency terms|