Jaguar entered the SUV scene with the F-Pace in 2017. It managed to be practical yet sporty and introduced some neat features such as the activity key – a bracelet that doubles as a key and is both water proof and shock proof.
For 2018, Jaguar adds a second SUV to its fleet with the flirty, fun-to-drive and compact E-Pace.
While there is a bevy of interesting features on this all-new vehicle, here are five key items of note.
A pair of 2.0-liter engines
E-Pace will come to the U.S. with a pair of 2.0-liter Ingenium “petrol” engines. The base engine will deliver 246 horsepower, and the up-level engine, which is available in the R-Dynamic models, will deliver 296 horsepower. Each will be mated to the 9-speed ZF transmission.
While there will be a diesel engine available in Europe, Jaguar has not announced plans to bring it stateside. However, big brother F-Pace has a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel, so we have hopes the E-Pace might get the diesel eventually.
The only drivetrain available on E-Pace is all-wheel-drive. While this system is generally front-biased, the interesting thing is the system can transfer almost all the engine torque to either the front or rear axels in extreme conditions. When a change is detected in driving conditions, AWD can re-engage in 0.3 seconds.
The competitive set
Jaguar has set its sights on the compact Germany SUVS, and it considers E-Pace’s key competitors to be the AWD versions of the BMW X1 ($35,900) and X2 ($38,400), Mercedes-Benz GLA ($35,400) and Audi Q3 ($35,000).
E-Pace easily tops all three of these vehicles in terms of interior and exterior design. The German vehicles tend to be more austere, and the E-Pace has flair.
I’d also argue that E-Pace handles better than the A3 and the GLA, with a quicker engine response and better connection to the road.
Priced under $40K
The base price for the E-Pace is $38,600, which might seem a bit high compared with the base prices of Q3, X1 and GLA, until you consider that the E-Pace comes standard with Lane Keep Assist and emergency braking. The Q3 does not offer these features, and when equipped appropriately, the GLA and X1 hover around $40K.
We like that there are a lot of options and levels on the E-Pace. You can keep it simple or you can check every box – including an up-level engine -- and top $65K. Only the GLA offers an up-level engine and allows you to lux-out your vehicle to the max.
A touch of whimsy
During the design presentation, the execs said E-Pace is meant to be the fun one in Jaguar’s SUV bunch. The compact size and peppy engine lend itself to sportier handling and fun-to-drive dynamics.
So it only seems fitting that Jaguar would take a page out of the Jeep handbook and embed a little design “Easter Egg” on the windshield.
If you’ll look closely at the driver’s side windshield, you’ll see a mama bear and her cub in the lower right-hand corner.
The significance? E-Pace’s code name during development was “Cub.”
The Bottom Line
We had a blast during our first-look drive of the all-new 2018 E-Pace. It’s practical and up-scale with some nice design flair and excellent high-tech options.
Plus this cat’s got bite if you opt for the sexy red leather interior and 296-horsepower engine – meee-ow!
We think E-Pace will compete well with its German competitors – even if the X1 does handle better, the E-Pace holds its own and looks nicer in our book.
Looking for more information on the E-Pace? Be sure to catch our full first-look review from our drive in Corsica, France.