Test Drives

Jaguar E-Pace review: Another pacesetter

Take Land Rover underpinnings, add some sparkle, and you have the new Jaguar E-Pace

SINGAPORE — Here’s an interesting statistic about the Jaguar Land Rover group: last year, Land Rover actually (narrowly) outsold Jag in Singapore, which tells you that no one wants ordinary four-door sedans anymore.

Instead, crossovers, Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), 4x4s or whatever you want to call them, are red hot at the moment. It’s the same story worldwide, only to a greater extent: for every Jaguar the group makes, it sells more than two Land Rovers. Cha-ching!

What Jaguar has done is what you would do in the same position: build more SUVs.

The first of these, the F-Pace, was a hit, and so here we have the second of a proposed three-model Jaguar SUV lineup, the E-Pace. (The third, the I-Pace, only arrives early next year. It’s a high-performance electric vehicle, so expect it to be a niche seller.)

Assuming you know your ABCs, the name of the car gives you some idea of where the new model sits in the family. “E” comes before “F”, so the E-Pace is a smaller SUV than the F-Pace, just as the XE is smaller than the XF which is smaller than the XJ.

Another way to think of the E-Pace is as a rival to any number of compact SUVs: the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mini Countryman and Volvo XC40 are the most directly comparable cars.

Yet another way to understand the E-Pace? It sits on the same underpinnings as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque, so think of it as a Jaguarified version of those cars.

But never mind what it is; if you’re wondering how it drives, the answer is, pleasantly enough. It’s priced on the upper end of the scale compared to rivals, but for the money you at least get plenty of power.

Three versions are on sale in Singapore — all are powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo that drives all four wheels through a nine-speed auto — with a 249 horsepower model kicking off the range. Top-of-the-line for now is a 300hp model that zips to 100km/h in a brisk 6.4 seconds.

Then there’s this, the 2.0 First Edition, which has the less powerful engine but more equipment, much of which helps to make the car look more sporty.

It’s only available for the E-Pace’s first year of production, and that limited availability seems to have been healthy for sales — the First Edition has been the most popular E-Pace here so far.

When you climb aboard, three main things hit you. First, the cabin quality is as high as what you find in the bigger F-Pace, and in some places, the plastics actually feel slightly softer and thus, posher.

Second, for a compact SUV the E-Pace is surprisingly spacious inside. There’s no sense of the cabin being dark or cramped, even in the back, where three adults would fit snugly but comfortably.

Headroom and legroom feel generous, and the boot manages to be a useful 484 litres in capacity.

The third thing about the E-Pace’s cabin is that it’s an overtly sporty place to be. Much of it seems inspired by the F-Type, Jaguar’s two-seat sportscar: the steering wheel design, the gearshift lever, the driving mode selector all could have been lifted straight out of that car.

The climate controls are pretty slick to look at, too. They were apparently inspired by the focus ring of a high-end Leica camera.

The most annoying thing about the E-Pace’s cabin is how, at some times of the day, the silver plastic that surrounds the gearshift tends to bounce a huge amount of sunlight right into your face.

Still, the cabin has been designed with utility in mind. The are numerous large storage spaces around the interior, and family friendly touches have been inserted — how many cars do you know have a bank of three USB chargers in the back?

For all that, the cabin is littered with playful elements. Look around and you might spot the odd Jaguar-skin motif inside, along with the adorable silhouette of a mother and her cub on the lower edge of the windscreen on the passenger side.

The same silhouette is even projected onto the ground at night by the puddle lamps.

That playfulness extends to how the E-Pace behaves, too. The handling isn’t as sharp as you’d get with, say, the new BMW X2, but there’s more feedback from the steering than in the Volvo XC40.

That makes plenty of difference, because when you can feel what the front tyres are up to through the steering, you end up with plenty of confidence with which to bomb along a set of corners.

Don’t expect a huge amount of grip, even if your E-Pace comes with the Pirelli P Zero tyres that our test car was shod with, but it’s remarkable how different the Jaguar feels from a Disco Sport, which is about as indifferent about cornering as it gets.

The 20-inch wheels that come with the First Edition pack add plenty of firmness to the proceedings, but the E-Pace isn’t an uncomfortable or jarring car to ride in, so the overall result is a car that feels eager to get on with the business of hard cornering.

It’s a lively thing in a straight line, too. Turbo four-cylinder engines are everywhere now, and their ubiquity has brought a kind jadedness with them, but the E-Pace’s engine, from Jaguar-Land Rover’s new “Ingenium” powerplant family, actually sounds distinct, with a bit more edge to its wail.

It’s a brawny piece of work anyway, and in this car it’s tuned for aggression, so small prods at the accelerator result in a pretty hearty surge from the car.

That means, ultimately, that the baby Jag feels pretty much like how it looks — the SUV morphology means it has plenty of space and cargo hauling abilities, but it’s sporty, and you’ll be constantly reminded of that. The rear end, for example, is a dead ringer for the backside of the F-Type.

Our prediction is that you’ll be seeing a statistical anomaly correct itself, at least within the Singapore context: with the E-Pace around, there’s no way Land Rover will outsell Jaguar here in 2018.

NEED TO KNOW Jaguar E-Pace 2.0 First Edition
Engine 1,997cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 249hp at 5500rpm
Torque 365Nm at 1200 to 4500rpm
Gearbox 9-speed automatic
Top Speed 230km/h
0-100km/h 7.0 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.7L/100km
Price S$225,999 with COE
Agent Wearnes Automotive
Available Now


Confused about the Jaguar E-Pace line-up for Singapore? We make sense of it here…

about the author

Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.