The Jaguar E-Pace is a luxurious crossover that is capable of giving you the thrills of an exciting drive, but that has pothole-approved ground clearance.
The model we tested – selling for R1,065,808 – was in R-Dynamic HSE spec and had the entry-level D200 powertrain, and it certainly ticked a lot of boxes.
It’s premium, sporty, and achingly pretty – but it still left something to be desired.
Allow me to explain.
The E-Pace, thanks to a mid-life update in late 2021, is arguably one of the better-looking crossovers on the market right now, with a pouncing stance and curvaceous lines that only your eyes can do justice.
A gorgeous design is a Jaguar signature and two elements that stand out for me are the almost comically-large wheels that somehow perfectly fit its compact body, along with the pronounced hips that make a welcome appearance with every glance in the side mirrors.
From the outside the small Jag does nothing wrong, and from the inside it’s not short of many equipment or luxuries.
The HSE spec we tested offers lavish leather finishes, premium materials on the buttons and switches, a suede headliner that was a big hit with everyone who got into it, and a clean and relatively buttonless cabin that exudes elegance when you open the door.
It also has 16-way electrically-adjustable seats, a booming Meridian sound system, a lovely deep-dish steering wheel, a huge panoramic roof that doesn’t open but looks very cool, a handful of clever driver assistance features, a highly-configurable driver’s display, and an 11.4-inch infotainment system that rivals the latest smartphones in features.
The cabin is laid out nicely with everything close by, and while the Sports seats are tight and firm, they bolster all the right places and I quite like them.
One interesting thing I also noticed when inside of this Jaguar is that it feels larger than its dimensions would imply, and it’s only once you get out again that you remember how compact it really is.
However, along with the exceptional comes the so-so, which in the E-pace are signs of part-borrowing from the rest of the Land Rover range.
While this isn’t an inherently bad thing, it made the cabin of the crossover familiar and maybe not as special as you’d like your Jaguar to be.
Moreover, the doors of the E-Pace are bigger and heavier than seemingly necessary, and only the armrests are wrapped in leather – the rest being covered in plastic, fabric, and what could only be described as a rubber-like material on the upper sills.
Visibility out of the small rear window is also limited to a degree, which is made up for by the ClearSight mirror that displays a video feed in the rear-view mirror of what’s going on behind the vehicle – but this is an optional extra that owners must pay for.
On the road the premium nature of the E-Pace is apparent as cruising around in this crossover is silky smooth.
The suspension damping and steering precision is expertly calibrated to fit its athletic personality, and the all-wheel-drive system makes it stick like glue around corners.
Unfortunately, though, these excellent attributes are slightly hindered when paired with the 2.0-litre, turbo-diesel under the hood.
Turbo lag is quite prevalent with this engine and what it means is that from 0-40km/h, this particular E-Pace is sluggish, but from 40-120km/h and at higher engine speeds it livens up significantly.
In the Dynamic drive mode the lag goes from noticeable to forgivable, but it’s never fully gone.
Fuel economy isn’t the D200’s trump card, either, as I averaged between 9.7-10.1l/100km for the week I spent with it – while the brochure claims a combined 5.3l/100km.
The E-Pace is also sold with a hybrid motor and two petrol configurations, each with a faster 0-100km/h time than this diesel, and these will be the powertrains I’d go for if I was in the market for one.
The E-Pace has a few drawbacks but there’s clearly a lot going for it, so what then might my hangups be?
I believe the E-Pace could’ve shined much brighter, but it was purposefully made not to do so.
It must fit in a rigid and well-defined spot in the Jaguar-Land Rover (JLR) stable and act as an entry point to the brand to make owners want to upgrade.
But, the E-Pace could’ve been so much more – a true competitor to the identically-priced Porsche Macan, a baby F-Pace SVR for fans of smaller SUVs, a Jaguar that doesn’t look and feel like a Land Rover inside – while still achieving the same goals.
Although I doubt you’ll find many owners that are unhappy with their E-Pace – I certainly enjoyed many smiles in the athletic Jag – if the price tag was better justified we probably would’ve seen many more roaming the streets.
If you do have your heart set on an E-Pace and you don’t mind these minor concerns, well I’m happy to report it remains a high-quality SUV from a good brand, and I’m sure you’ll love it.
Jaguar E-Pace D200 AWD R-Dynamic HSE
Click to enlarge