2018 Jaguar E-Pace S P300 Review
Isaac Bober’s Jaguar E-Pace S P300 Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Baby Jaguar arrives Down Under boasting good looks inside and out and in P300 trim, plenty of stomp.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace S P300 Specifications
Price from $64,020+ORC ($85,450+ORC as tested) Warranty three-years, 100,00km Service Intervals 26,000km or 12 months Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol Power 221kW at 5500rpm Torque 400Nm from 1500-4500rpm Transmission nine-speed automatic Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 4411mm (long) 1984mm (width) 1649mm (height) 2681mm (wheelbase) Ground Clearance 204mm Angles 22.8-degrees (approach); 29.4-degrees (departure); 21.1-degrees (rampover) Wading Depth 500mm Weight 1819kg GVM 2400kg GCM 4200kg Towing 1800kg braked) Boot Space 484 -1141L Spare space saver Fuel Tank 68L Thirst 8.0L/100km claimed combined – 95RON
ARRIVING DOWN UNDER just ahead of the same-category Volvo XC40, the Jaguar E-Pace is hoping to woo those looking for a premium compact SUV. And, on the surface it’s certainly got the looks to attract attention.
What is the Jaguar E-Pace?
Well, for a start Jaguar is hoping it’ll become a cash-cow for the brand, pushing sales through the roof and taking over from the bigger F-Pace SUV as the brand’s best-selling vehicle. And you can just about bank on that given that a large chunk of the vehicles built and sold will be expressly for the Chinese market. The rest of the world is getting its E-Paces from Austria via Magna Steyr – or, the business that’s been building the G-Class for donkey’s ages. Moving on.
The Jaguar E-Pace a compact SUV and obviously, in Jaguar’s line-up sits below the F-Pace. It’s based on the platform under the Land Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport but runs a different mounting for a stiffer front suspension sub-frame. Like its sibling, the E-Pace uses a lot of aluminium, for the bonnet, tailgate and front wings but none of it is in the structure itself, unlike the F-Pace. And, so, the E-Pace is heavier than the F-Pace, weighing from 1819kg (the F-Pace tips the scales at 1722kg) despite being a physically smaller vehicle.
It’s interesting to note that some commentators have claimed Jaguar hasn’t just shrunk the F-Pace to create the design for the E-Pace, rather, they claim and rightly too (bear with me), Jaguar has drawn inspiration from the F-Type. And you only have to look at the headlights and wraparound tail-lights to see that. Look at the thing in profile and squint and you can almost imagine a miniaturised F-Type…but that’s exactly the same as the F-Pace. It too takes it styling cues from the F-Type…so…maybe shrinking the F-Pace and borrowing styling cues from the F-Type for the E-Pace isn’t such a bad thing because this is a genuinely good-looking little machine.
The E-Pace measures 4395mm long and the wheelbase is a sizeable 2681mm, there are short front and rear overhangs and this, Jaguar says, makes for impressive interior room, but we’ll come back to this shortly.
There are a couple of Ingenium engines to choose from, both petrol and diesel, and some are in different states of tune. Our test car is the mid-spec E-Pace S in P300 trim and that means its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine makes 221kW at 5500rpm and 400Nm of torque from 1500-4500rpm.
Our test car lists from $64,020+ORC and comes standard with a leather interior, active safety suite, LED headlights, passive suspension but active driveline (which I’ll explain later), rear traffic monitor, and a 360-degree parking camera as well as a 10-inch infotainment system and more. However, our test car was far from standard, and added 20-inch alloys ($2740) a fixed panoramic sunroof ($2160), head-up display ($1630), 18-way electric adjust front seats including heated rear seats ($1310), Meridian sound system ($1270), cold climate pack which includes heated windscreen and more ($1220), Drive Pack which includes blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and high-speed emergency braking ($1020), keyless entry ($950), powered tailgate ($900), illuminated metal scuff plates ($820), gloss black roof rails ($740), privacy glass ($690), configurable dynamics ($680), digital radio ($430), smartphone pack ($420), cabin air ionisation ($380), surround camera system ($220) and more. All of this added up to a list price for our test car of $85,450+ORC. Now, don’t read too much into that, because it’s unlikely an owner would tick all these options but given our experience with the E-Pace there are plenty of cost-options that you’d want to have. So, the E-Pace might be the smallest Jaguar but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly budget friendly.
What’s the interior like?
Well, you’ve got to take the images of our test car with a pinch of salt because they’re indicative only of this test car and not the E-Pace S as a variant. But, armed with that knowledge, let’s dive in.
Opening the door is the first hint that Jaguar’s designers wanted owners to feel special each time they climbed into the E-Pace. Highlighting that it’s the baby SUV in the range there’s puddle lighting of a Jaguar cub following its mother cast onto the ground every time you unlock the car.
And then you swing open the door and behold the Ebony-grained leather seats which look delicious and that’s just as well, because the rest of the interior errs heavily on the side of conservatism. The materials used in the front of the car all feel of a reasonable quality but there’s very little switch gear on the dashboard or centre console and so you find that all the cosmetic fripperies that cost extra are probably necessary evils to break up the expanse of dashboard. And, what switchgear there is, particularly some of the steering wheel-mounted buttons feel a little cheap to the touch.
A standard-fit 10-inch infotainment screen running Jaguar’s Touch Pro system sits in the centre of the dashboard. This is a touchscreen and while the basic menu structure isn’t overly difficult to get the hang of, the lack of smartphone mirroring via Apple or Android is a negative. Sure, if you actually owned the car, you’d likely download Jaguar’s InControl apps which allows you to do a lot of what Apple and Android mirroring would handle natively; you’ll need to download several InControl apps and pay an extra ($420) for the Smartphone Pack which includes the InControl connectivity.
While it’s a cinch to connect your phone via Bluetooth or USB to the E-Pace it wasn’t always a smooth or stable connection. Occasionally music wouldn’t play through the car but instead would be piped through my phone and for one 10min period I had a ‘loading’ icon on the main screen. This isn’t the first time I’ve had an issue with an iPhone in a JLR vehicle but it’s not the E-Pace’s fault. Quite often an update on the phone will cause things to fall out of sync and so a visit to your local dealership will be required to similarly update your vehicle so that the two systems will continue talking. That said, just including Apple or Android connectivity would solve that issue. Another gripe with the system is that while the matte screen looks nice against the dashboard it’s almost impossible to see in sunlight.
The climate controls are easy to use but for anyone unfamiliar with JLR product you’ll likely tear your hair out when you press the ‘recirculate’ icon only to see it say, ‘timed recirculation’…and that’s exactly what it is, and after a while the system will default back to sucking air in from outside. To override this, you’ve got to hold your finger on the button until it flashes. That said, a run through the M5 tunnel or when following trucks, even with recirculate activated, would ‘smell’ like the system was drawing air from outside, meaning exhaust fumes. Hmmm.
Sat behind the steering wheel, the cost optional seats offer plenty of adjustment and so it’s quite easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. There’s good vision to the front and sides, although the rear windscreen feels very small and the c-pillars mean you’ve absolutely got to shoulder-check when changing lanes.
The centre console borrows its grab handle from the F-Type and creates a definite driver’s zone. There’s excellent storage in the front of the E-Pace (I particularly liked the hidden storage space between the seats which offers enough room for two one-litre bottles laid flat, or you can add a pair of cup holders and still leave some storage beneath) and you can option up to four 12v outlets and five USB connections for the front and the back of the thing. And the E-Pace’s standard-fit Wi-Fi hotspot can handle up to eight different devices connected at once.
Climb over into the back of the E-Pace and while there are claims of a roomy backseat, it didn’t feel particularly roomy to me. I set the driver’s seat to suit myself and had enough room in the back, but when I climbed in behind the passenger seat, which I’d set to suit a more stretched-leg seating position, I found my knees were almost hard up against the back of the front seat.
The sloping roofline and curved sides of the car certainly eat into headroom with the sense that the back seat of the E-Pace is much smaller than that of either the Discovery Sport or Evoque.
Over in the boot, there’s 484 litres of storage space with the 60:40 split fold seats in use. Fold them down and this grows to 1141 litres which isn’t huge but it’s big enough for the size of the vehicle. A space saver spare lives beneath the boot floor.
What’s it like on the road?
Under the bonnet of our E-Pace S P300 is the highest-output version of the JLR 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine you can get, making 221kW at 5500rpm and 400Nm of torque from 1500-4500rpm. This is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission which sees service across the Jaguar and Land Rover universe. The E-Pace P300 will get from 0-100km/h in 6.4 seconds.
Make no mistake, this is a cracking engine that’s a whole lot quicker than the E-Pace’s tiny tot looks might suggest. On the highway or when travelling at more than 60km/h there’s an ease with which this thing accelerates that you don’t expect. Uphill or through the corners effortless thrust is just a flex of the toe away. But, as we’ve found in other JLR applications with this nine-speed automatic moving off from a standing start or dribbling along can see the transmission shift clumsily once it’s realised it’s in too high a gear and that’s despite the 450Nm of torque arriving at 1500rpm and hanging around for ages. You’d expect it to be a little easier going even if it is in third when it should be in second, or second when it should be in first for a particularly hilly take-off.
But once you’re out of the first one or two gears, as mentioned, this thing is effortless and the transmission is smoother. And, so it remains once you arrive at a corner…out on the Practical Motoring road loop which is now much longer to incorporate a section of patchwork bitumen (our previous section was re-laid recently) also throws in more high and low speed corners.
And that’s good news for this particular E-Pace, because although it ran the standard suspension (read: non-adaptive dampers) it did have the clever AWD system (known as Active Driveline) this set-up allows for a near infinite adjustment of torque from the front to the rear and side to side able to adjust distribution in 100 milliseconds – indeed, the system can shift virtually all the torque to the rear axle if needed. In general driving, the Active Driveline disengages the AWD sending power to the front axle only; saving fuel. But it can re-engage AWD in around 300 milliseconds.
Indeed, Jaguar reckons the slip control unit can lock both rear clutches to provide traction equal to that of an AWD equipped with a locking rear differential. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a situation to test out this claim; a split-mu surface would have been ideal. There are several driving modes to choose from, including ECO, Rain, Ice and Snow and Dynamic, and in the last three modes, all-wheel drive is always engaged. In ECO it isn’t.
In addition to a clever all-wheel drive system, the E-Pace also offers torque vectoring by braking, which means, when cornering hard, the brakes are applied, if necessary, to keep the car hugging the corner and maintaining traction. The E-Pace also features Jaguar’s All-Surface Progress Control which functions between 1.8-30km/h and it’s excellent. Think of it as a low-speed cruise control when on an icy, or muddy track. It also works as an uphill or downhill speed control. Using the cruise control to speed up or slow down you can slow the progress right down to a walking pace and simply concentrate on steering.
But, back to the cornering. All the above gadgetry means the E-Pace will happily throw itself into a corner and grip on for dear life. Indeed, the grip levels the thing can generate on turn-in (thanks to the stiffer front-end compared with the Discovery Sport and Evoque) are impressive. And unlike the F-Pace, the steering in the E-Pace is on-point allowing you to exploit the grip available should you so choose. There’s a directness to the steering and a meatiness that builds in proportion to the cornering forces.
But it’s not perfect. The standard suspension is perhaps a touch too firm for this sort of vehicle, at low speeds anyway, biting at the most minor road imperfection. Get the thing moving beyond 60km/h and it feels much better with the low-speed brittleness replaced by a cushioned control.
Across dirt roads, the E-Pace feels just as grippy and comfortable as it does on the bitumen. But as the road becomes bumpier then you’ve got to slow right down to avoid thumping and bumping across the terrain. There’s good noise insulation across bitumen and dirt and at all speeds. Even on the highway there’s very little wind noise.
In all, the E-Pace S P300 isn’t the most sporting of the pack but it does more than enough to be an enjoyable car to punt along a twisting road. Sure, it’s low-speed ride is a little harder than you’d expect from a vehicle hoping to woo Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz buyers but there’s enough balance that the thing should be seen as a success.
What about safety?
The Jaguar E-Pace gets a five-star ANCAP rating and rated 86% (33/38) for adult occupant protection, 87% (43/49) for child occupant protection, and 77% for pedestrian protection (8.7/12). The E-Pace is standard with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning across the range along with a reversing camera, all-wheel drive, airbags including curtain airbags that reach into the back seat, driver condition monitor, rear parking sensors, lane keep assist and more.
What about ownership?
The E-Pace S P300 lists from $64,020+ORC although our test car, with all its cost-options, listed from $85,450+ORC which goes to show how easy it is to hike the price of the E-Pace. The build quality seemed good and there were no squeaks or rattles in the week we had the vehicle.
The three-year, 100,000km warranty is a bit short and while there’s no capped price servicing plan, buyers can purchase a service plan which covers the cost of servicing ($1500) for up to five years or 130,00km covering labour costs and the use of genuine Jaguar parts.
So, what do we think?
From the moment the F-Pace was launched it was only a matter of time before Jaguar would roll out a baby SUV. And the E-Pace doesn’t disappoint. It looks good inside and out (but a Discovery Sport is roomier in the back) and it drives well enough to ensure that buyers will flock to the thing. That said, it isn’t cheap and even minor cost options that other brands offer as standard can see the price climb fast.