by: Mike Ginsca,
Jaguar’s first fully electric crossover SUV is here. Wait, what?? This isn’t the full electric crossover? … Confusing isn’t it? The “E” in E-Pace is not for electric instead it’s just a naming thing to denote the smaller of the Jaguar SUV family. The E-Pace is a completely new model for Jaguar and follows in the footsteps of its bigger brother, the F-Pace, as a sporty and luxury SUV from the British brand.
Engine – There are two engines to choose from with the Jaguar E-Pace, a 246hp turbo 4-cylinder or a 296hp turbo 4-cylinder as tested. For a compact SUV that tips the scales at almost 1,900 kg, the P300 engine gives you a pretty good kick in the back when accelerating. Granted it does have quite a high turbo threshold, as in, you have to rev the engine before the turbocharger can give the boost in power. Jaguar says that the 2.0L engine produces 295 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 and 4,500 rpms but in reality it feels more like it’s between 2,500 and 5,000 rpms. But keep those revs up and you will always have peak torque at your disposal.
It’s also a surprisingly economical engine. During my week with the E-Pace, on a highway I averaged around 9.5 L/100km which is about 0.9 L/100km higher than what it’s rated for. But in a city (with some enthusiastic driving) I averaged 11.5 L/100km which is just 0.3 L/100km off the EPA estimated fuel economy of 11.2 L/100km.
Transmission – The only transmission available with the 2.0L turbo engine is a ZF sourced 9-speed automatic. This is where some of the sporty driving dynamics fall short on the Jaguar E-Pace. Normally ZF transmissions are fast and smooth and while this 9-speed is fast and smooth on upshifts, it is slow, dimwitted, and jerky on downshifts. It doesn’t matter whether the crossover is in Normal, Sport, or manual modes, the transmission when downshifting is slow to respond to the driving situation.
Brakes – The brakes on the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace R-Dynamic are strong and bring the hefty cat to a stop quickly. When first stepping on the brake pedal, it is a bit sensitive but after a few uses, you get used to it.
Handling – This being the more sporty compact luxury SUV in the segment, it is quite fun to drive on twisty mountain roads. The steering is precise and quick to driver inputs. For all out sporty driving, the steering is a bit on the light side in terms of feeling but for everyday city maneuvering it is perfectly weighted. The body has some body roll through corners but if you opt for the Adaptive Dynamics package, I’m sure it’ll minimize the body roll a bit more (this demo vehicle did not have it equipped).
Ride Comfort – Despite not having the adaptive suspension, the Jaguar E-Pace is still a comfortable daily commuter crossover. The standard suspension is a bit on the firmer side when compared to other compact crossovers like the Volvo XC40, but it’s not back breakingly bad. Both front seats offer good support for the bum and the back as well as fairly good side support when driving enthusiastically around corners. Front occupants have plenty of head and leg room but rear occupants are more limited in terms of both. The XC40 has better leg and headroom in the rear seats than the E-Pace.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – For the most part, the cabin of the Jaguar E-Pace is well insulated. Wind and tire noise are fairly subdued on highways and are at levels that you’d expect from a compact luxury SUV. Engine noise is a bit loud when starting up cold but after a few minutes it quiets down.
Interior Design – The overall look of the E-Pace interior is reminiscent of the Jaguar F-Type sports car. It has a similar steering wheel and center console design. It doesn’t have the dual screen layout of the Range Rover Velar but the addition of physical buttons and knobs just makes it easier to use without having to take your eyes off the road. Overall the interior looks premium and depending on what you touch, it feels the same way. However there are some pieces of the trim that are not so premium. For example, the gear selector, the drive mode selector, and the steering wheel paddles feel like very cheap plastics and not all what one would expect from a premium brand like Jaguar.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – As this demo vehicle sits, it costs around $62,000 CAD before taxes. For that money you get the usual gadgets such as navigation, heated seats, heated steering wheel, emergency automatic braking, blind spot sensors, lane keeping aid, and so on. But there are some features that make you wonder how they are not included when paying over $60,000 CAD on a vehicle. These include a power tailgate, 360 camera system, heads-up display, satellite radio, or ventilated seats. All of these features are available on the Jaguar E-Pace as options but it will raise the price on what is already a very expensive compact crossover.
Exterior Design – Just like the interior, the exterior of the E-Pace is a looker. Especially in this Caesium Blue colour, it stands out in an otherwise grey city landscape. A few of the exterior design cues are inspired by the F-Type sports car such as the headlights, taillights, and rear diffuser. I also like the cute baby Jaguar following the momma Jaguar logo on the windshield.
In all the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace R-Dynamic is a fun luxury crossover that nicely blends sporty driving characteristics with daily commuter comfort. But the biggest let down is that transmission. If it was just a bit faster and smoother when downshifting, I’d be ok to overlook some of the cheap interior plastics and the hefty price tag when well equipped.
Thank you to Jaguar Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Jaguar.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.