We drive the new Jaguar E-Pace on Irish roads
Pros: Rewarding drive, handsome looks, spacious
Cons: Firm ride quality, pricy options, no Apple CarPlay
Like almost every other car brand, Jaguar has been focusing its efforts on success in the SUV space. Jaguar’s first foray into the SUV class came in 2016 with the popular F-Pace, and now a smaller sibling has joined it in the line-up for 2018. This is the Jaguar E-Pace, a handsomely-styled compact SUV with frugal diesel engines and attractive tech to compete against class leaders such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. We put the E-Pace through a gruelling 1300-kilometre test from Dublin to Donegal and back, to see what it is like to live with and if it can become Jaguar’s best-selling model here in Ireland.
What is it like?
Jaguar has a rich heritage of building stylish cars, and that continues with the E-Pace. In similar fashion to the larger F-Pace, it boasts an imposing front grille with large air intakes, a swooping roofline and distinctive LED brake lights with twin exhaust pipes. The E-Pace’s compact platform makes it quite distinctive in the SUV space, and it certainly draws attention out on the. Our test car is a range-topping First Edition model, so it is equipped with every extra under the sun, including 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and various other upgrades for a sportier finish.
Despite being the smallest SUV in Jaguar’s range, the E-Pace offers considerable room inside. The doors open widely, and the cabin is filled with good materials and lots of touch screen tech. It’s easy to get comfortable in the driver’s seat with a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment available, although we would have liked a better range of height adjustment from the steering wheel. Space in the rear seats is good for tall passengers too so the E-Pace is well-suited to four tall adults, although a tall transmission tunnel in the middlemost seat inhibits leg room somewhat. Space in the boot is reasonable with 425 litres of room, and there is a pair of ISOFIX mounts in the rear seats for discerning family buyers.
As standard, the E-Pace is equipped with a crisp 10-inch touch screen infotainment system which is quite intuitive to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality isn't included, however Jaguar plans to add this in future updates. There is also a smaller five-inch digital driver display which displays information such as songs, driving distance and speed. Family buyers will appreciate the large amount of safety equipment included with the E-Pace too, including front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, emergency braking technology and a suite of airbags throughout the cabin, while the E-Pace’s tall ride height gives great visibility of the road from the driver's seat.
The E-Pace is available two turbocharged engines in Ireland; a 2.0-litre diesel unit and a 2.0 litre petrol unit, and both engines are available in various states of tune. Due to its lower running costs, the 2.0-litre diesel will prove most popular here in Ireland and it is available with 150 horsepower or 180 horsepower, a choice of a manual or automatic transmissions and front or all-wheel-drive. Our test car is the 2.0-litre diesel 180hp with all-wheel-drive and an automatic transmission, which is the ideal combination for long journeys on the open road. The 2.0D 180 feels powerful and it can sprint from 0-100km/h in 9.3 seconds or go on to a top speed of 204km/h. We found it rather economical during the test too, with fuel economy returns of 5.6l/100km and annual motor tax rated at €390.
Out on the road, the E-Pace is agile by SUV standards and it trumps many of its rivals in this area. All-wheel-drive models are equipped with Jaguar’s Active Driveline system which allows torque vectoring at the rear wheels. Essentially this helps during cornering and is particularly evident on tight and twisty back roads. The E-Pace is assured and confident thanks to its firm ride quality and large wheels, however this does impact on bumpier roads where the suspension doesn’t cosset as well as its rivals. Different driving modes can be selected via a switch on the centre console and there is even an off-road mode for those rare occasions when the terrain gets difficult. We tested this during a rainy ascent at Slieve League in Donegal and the E-Pace climbed with confidence and surefootedness
Prices for the new Jaguar E-Pace start from €38,060 in Ireland and there are three levels of specification to choose from with ‘E-Pace’, ‘R-Dynamic’ and ‘First Edition’ models. In standard E-Pace specifaction, it is very well equipped with LED headlights, heated door mirrors, rain sensing windscreen wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, two-zone climate control, the aforementioned 10-inch touch screen infotainment system and lots more.
The mid-range R-Dynamic model adds sportier bumpers, a gloss black front grille, satin exterior trim, sports seats and various other upgrades for a sportier finish. The range-topping First Edition model leaves little to be desired, with upgraded LED lights, an electric tailgate, 20-inch wheels, ambient interior lighting, electric and heated front seats, suede cloth headlining and lots more, however it is demands a hefty asking price as a result.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
Desirable, spacious and filled with tech, the new Jaguar E-Pace has the right ingredients for success in the small premium SUV class, and then some. It’s also rather rewarding to drive, unlike most of other SUVs on the market. That said, the E-Pace can prove expensive and options quickly ramp the asking price. What’s more, interior quality isn’t as impressive as some of its rivals, and some offer better practicality too. That said, the E-Pace is a stand out option in the small premium SUV class and one that is likely to become Jaguar's best-selling model for many years to come.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Jaguar E-Pace First Edition
Prices from: €38,060
Price as tested: €71,425
Annual Road Tax: €390
Engine: 1,999cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Top Speed: 204km/h
0-100km/h: 9.3 seconds
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 425 litres
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