By on February 21, 2018

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar claims the F-Pace, its first crossover SUV, more or less doubled the automaker’s sales almost overnight. That little factoid makes a statement about the state of the automotive industry – namely, that crossovers are hot and that just about every brand needs to sell one to survive, regardless of a brand’s history.

Just ask Porsche. If not for the Cayenne (and now the Macan), could that company continue to afford to build the venerable 911, as well as the Boxster and Cayman?

The answer, of course, is probably not. That’s a big part of the reason why even “exotic” brands such as Bentley and Lamborghini have gotten into, or are getting into, the SUV game.

Certainly, Jaguar has picked up on the trend. Following the F-Pace comes the smaller E-Pace, and soon to follow is the I-Pace, complete with an all-electric powertrain. It may still seem weird to many of us that Jaguar is building and selling crossovers, but we’re also living in an era in which former Jaguar owner Ford offers a turbocharged four in the Mustang (as something other than a weak “base” powerplant) and Mitsubishi is planning on using the Eclipse name on a crossover. Things change, man.

Consider that Jaguar’s sales saw a 124-percent increase (thanks, former TTAC’er Tim Cain) in the six months after the F-Pace launched, compared to the six months previous to the launch. The XE played a part, sure, but the F-Pace did wonders for Jaguar. So it’s only natural that other crossovers would follow.

Full disclosure: Jaguar paid for my flights (in business class) all the way to and from Corsica, France (!), as well as my hotels and meals, so that I could drive the all-new E-Pace. Also, I may or may not have gotten caught speeding by a speed camera (it’s unclear), and I have promised Jaguar I will pay the fine if I was indeed caught over the limit. Jaguar left us two books about the E-Pace and Corsica, which I was going to leave behind until I realized both may contain information that would be relevant to this review. Jaguar also helped me with my video stand-up for TTAC’s YouTube page.

Odd nomenclature aside (why is the E-Pace NOT the electric one?), the E-Pace rides on a different platform than the larger F-Pace, and Jaguar considers its competitive set to include the BMW X2 and X3, the Audi Q3, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, and perhaps the Lexus NX and Infiniti QX50. Jaguar didn’t mention the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, but that also seems like a natural competitor.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

Before diving into this, I have to say I went in fighting a bit of bias. Not pro-Jag, but the opposite. I knew that if I liked the E-Pace, you out there in Best and Brightest land might just accuse me of being bought off by a trip to Corsica. I tried to keep an open mind, and well, what do you know, I mostly liked it. That had nothing to do with France – it’s just a well-done sporty compact luxury crossover.

Despite riding on a completely different platform than the F-Pace and having its own unique styling cues, the family resemblance is clear. At a distance, the E-Pace looks like a truncated F-Pace. This is both good and bad – I like the overall look of the F-Pace, so I am glad the E-Pace has similar styling, but the larger F-Pace looks better proportioned – the E-Pace looks a little chopped from some angles.

Chopped it may be, but from other angles, the E looks sporty – it just depends where you’re standing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder in relation to the car, goes this version of the old quote I just made up.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

Inside our tester, which spec’d out as an equivalent to a R-Dynamic in HSE trim (more on that below), an available large infotainment screen dominates the top half of the center stack, while the bottom accounts for the necessary buttons and serves as home to three large HVAC knobs. Push the digital readout in the middle to operate the heated and cooled seats – it’s a neat trick that saves space but adds steps to operating a simple function. There is a radio volume knob, but it’s small and oriented nearest the passenger for some inexplicable reason. I am no interior designer, but it looks like Jag could’ve not only placed the knob nearest the driver, but there even appears to be room for a tuning knob. The lack of passenger grab handles also struck me as odd.

At least the infotainment screen is easy to read, thanks to clear graphics, and it’s intuitive enough. Our pre-production tester did run into a minor issue with displaying the correct music information when using the harddrive to play tunes.

The digital gauges are easy to read, as is the available head-up display, and while the cacophony of buttons on the steering wheel looks intimidating, they’re simple enough to use while motoring.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a vehicle of this size, rear-seat space is tight. If you plan on double-dating much, you might want to shop a size up.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

Euros get all the fun, at least when it comes to E-Pace choice. Us ‘Muricans get only two engine choices – both four-bangers of the turbocharged variety, and we don’t get front-wheel drive. We do get two types of all-wheel drive – one which shifts torque to the rear axle on demand, and another that handles the torque distribution duties a little differently. Essentially, the standard AWD system is constantly shifting torque front and rear as conditions dictate, while the optional system – called Active Driveline – switches to front-drive when cruising in order to reduce parasitic losses via the driveline. It can quickly switch back to AWD should the conditions warrant it. One-hundred percent of that torque can go to either rear wheel, as necessary.

On the road, this means that if you overcook a corner and start to experience understeer, you can feel the rear kick around a bit to guide you through. Not that, uh, I found out by underestimating a few corners and coming in a tad too hot, or anything like that. No, nope, not at all.

Joking aside, the E-Pace is a solid corner-carver, at least as solid as any luxury compact crossover can be, especially in dynamic mode (which quickens the steering without firming up feel). Engaging and fun to drive, at least by crossover standards, it felt at home in the mountains.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

Ride-wise, the E-Pace is stiffly sprung, which Jaguar PR told me was the idea – Jaguar vehicles will usually be tuned stiffer than their Land Rover brethren. This stiffness was felt on the pot-holed, two-lane roads of Corisca but there was no chance for freeway driving – I am not even sure if there is a freeway in Corsica.

The top-end 2.0-liter turbo four (296 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque) provided solid punch, but it took a second for the nine-speed automatic transmission to kick down. That transmission was otherwise seen and not heard during cruise, but the wonky shifter frustrates during parking maneuvers. You think you’re in gear when you’re actually in neutral. I prefer JLR’s circular shifter, but that’s just me.

Also, for some odd reason, the turbo four sounded like a diesel at times.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

I can’t write a fair comparison of the E-Pace to most of its competitive set, at least not yet, as I’ve not driven most of the competing crossovers. I’ve only driven the Stelvio (in Ti trim), the QX50, and the NX – and I didn’t get the chance to drive the Stelvio hard on curvy roads. As for the NX, I drove it so long ago that the 2016 presidential election wasn’t yet on the cultural radar.

The E-Pace does outhandle the QX50 (which isn’t as stiffly sprung), which I thought was capable in its own right. Then again, the E-Pace is more focused on being sporty than the QX.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

The E-Pace is a sporty little thing, but comfort and convenience matter much in this segment. Like other compact luxury crossovers, the E-Pace starts at a reasonable price but ticking option selections will run up the bill quickly.

You can build an E-Pace one of two ways – package it together by trim level or shop a la carte, piling options on individually. The latter will cost you more, but if you want an HSE trim vehicle without actually selecting HSE, you can do that.

As it stands now, you can select an E-Pace with the base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (246 horsepower) or an R-Dynamic with the more-powerful four. The R-Dynamic adds chrome exterior trim and has different bumpers and a black gloss grille finish. A this-year-only First Edition model comes with the base engine, standard panoramic sunroof and head-up display, 20-inch wheels, and exclusive trim bits.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

If you don’t pick the R-Dynamic, you can choose from base, S, and SE trims, while the R-Dynamic is available as S, SE, and HSE. Available wheel sizes include 17-, 18-, 19-, and 20-inches. Available features include powered tailgate (with gesture control available), panoramic sunroof, head-up display, navigation, premium audio, USB, Bluetooth, rear-view camera, lane-keep assist, emergency braking, heated front seats, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, 4G in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, Jaguar activity key, front and rear parking aid, and driver-condition monitor.

It’s hard to directly compare the Euro-spec cars we drove to U.S. specs, but the vehicle I drove for a day and a half would set you back approximately $58,210, including the $995 destination fee. It was optioned out similar to a loaded HSE, with a pre-option price of $47,250. That $58K price tag puts it close to a loaded QX50, by way of comparison.

Those options were the 12.3-inch interactive display ($565), 18-way electric heated and cooled memory front seats with heated rear seats ($1,330), standard Wi-Fi, activity key ($410), powered gesture tailgate ($460, plus $565 for the keyless entry system you need first), panoramic sunroof ($1,225), head-up display ($970), “drive pack” driver’s assistance package (blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, $970), red brake calipers ($410), black exterior package ($220), metallic paint ($590), and 20-inch wheels ($2,250).

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

So even if we’re approximating, you have about a $20,000 difference between the base E-Pace ($38,600, before $995 D and D fee) and a top-of-the-walk HSE. The base model doesn’t lack for content – it has some of the key driver’s assistance equipment (such as lane-keep assist), for example, along with rear fog lights, LED headlights, leather steering wheel, push-button start, and dual-zone climate control.

Altogether, the E-Pace is in athletic compact luxury crossover that sacrifices some ride comfort for the sake of sport. It’s handsome in and out, but quirky design decisions mar an otherwise well-done interior. Rear-seat space is limited, too.

Athletic but requires some sacrifice, may be expensive, and posseses a few quirks. As any cat owner will tell you, those are feline traits to a T.

[Images © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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42 Comments on “2018 Jaguar E-Pace First Drive – Athletic, Not Electric...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Hey, it’s an Outlander Sport.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Because Ford has never offered a turbocharged 4 in a Mustang before? In fact, wasn’t it the same displacement? They did and it was.

    Back to the Jag, wouldn’t “E Pace” be more appropriate for the electric version? E as in Electricity.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      True, but I think you’re referring to the relatively low-selling SVO. The current 4-banger ‘Stang is more of a mass-market car.

      Yes, that question was asked by another reporter during the press briefing. Don’t recall Jaguar’s exact answer, but it was a mess of marketing mumbo-jumbo.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim Healey

        Ah, I forgot about the weaker four-banger in the Fox body. My bad. Well, my point stands — today’s EcoBoost is considered to offer acceptable performance in a Mustang. I could’ve said that more clearly, to be sure, but there’s a difference between how Ford positions the current four-cylinder and the base engines of yore.

        • 0 avatar
          boro92

          FYI it was never a base model. The turbo 4 was the de facto performance option. It was one of the first svt projects before svt ever was marketed. The GT was actually used as a base and studied on the track, and improvements were made to the SVO such that it was superior to the GT for road course duty – this included critical component upgrades such as beefier front knuckles, wheel bearings and brakes. It’s probably a car that history generally has forgotten…the SVO was a special car and far from base. The current ecoboost does not sit in the same position as the old SVO

    • 0 avatar
      blackEldo

      I think the naming lines up like this… XF:F-Pace::XE:E-Pace similar to Mercedes’ C:GLC naming convention.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    I just don’t understand how much cheaper cars like the Jaguar F-Type and Tesla Model S can have flush door handles, but Lambo decided to go with VAG parts bin bucket handles with their Urus SUV. Any dynamism in the profile is utterly ruined by those unsightly warts.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    I can’t get past the massive wheels and even larger wheel wells. Ouch.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    It’s not bad looking for a CUV. But it’s still no “real” Jag.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is the future of entry luxury.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Seems a bit pricey for “entry” luxury.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Very few will be HSE R-Dynamics. Most of these will sell in the high 40s, which (more relevantly) means they’ll lease around $599/month.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Still seems like quite a bit to me. Maybe its just me but it looks incredibly cheaply made, the profile from a short distance could be a Mazda CX whatever.

          18xK mortgage @ 3.9 excluding taxes on a 4BR home: $990

          Lease this (money down?): $599

          NEO: Whoa.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            If you could just go ahead and beam that four bedroom, $990/mo house to Denver, 28, my broke a** would sure appreciate it.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            LOL. I’ve got 3 unrenovated bedrooms and my mortgage is about 350% of that.

            Edit: Oh, wait, you’re excluding taxes. “Only” a bit under 300% then…

          • 0 avatar
            IBx1

            “18xK mortgage on a 4BR home”

            Say it with me:

            LOL

            Maybe in the war-torn streets of Detroit.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Freed

            I’m guessing here but actually I think you’d like it: Ugly 70s decor inspired by cocaine and cigarettes. Our taxes are high proportionally speaking, though. I read a comment somewhere where someone claimed their property near downtown Seattle was $6300 in taxes, mine is a shade under 5 and I’m sure heading up. Neighbors across the street are well over 10K on a roughly $500K property from 1980 (I think they’re assessed at about half, bought in ’97).

            Actually you would have loved the one house I looked at: stone ranch 2000sf plus 500sqft 3 season room, mid 50s construction, I think 3BR/3BA, and an acre of land in South Fayette (read: country). Assessed at 225K, listed at 200K and was 120K when I viewed it after a year sitting. Dated but good bones, finally sold for 80K cash money. Taxes? $8,000 all in from what my realtor found out which is why it could not sell. Pony up the money and your “mortgage” is your tribute but I suppose most people didn’t like the idea of a mortgage, and a tax “mortgage”, being that far out in the country, and whatever other recon costs it needed. I’m also fairly certain my one ex grew up there so its probably cursed.

            Actually here it is:

            https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/South-Fayette-PA/59855106_zpid/395519_rid/pricea_sort/40.386119,-80.182442,40.383447,-80.187055_rect/17_zm/

            @Dal

            Because Seattle.

            I’ve never been but always wanted to go since the 90s. Not sure I could live there though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @IBx1

            You’re really feeding my ego now.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Once in a while I think of selling out and moving somewhere cheap where I could charge 2/3 of my current hourly rate and buy some real toys.

            Then summertime comes, we walk down to the lake from our house (2 blocks) on a wooden pedestrian bridge over a forested ravine, it’s 74 and sunny, the Bellevue skyline of glass buildings glows in the reflected sunset, and my kids spend the evening playing with cattails.

            It’s hard to leave, especially if you’re a native.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Sounds great. I imagine its toughs for natives to leave any place they really like, especially if they are as nice as you describe.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You’re right, 28, I dig it. Definitely a fixer-upper, though.

            But, damn…eighty grand. You can’t buy a freakin Tuff-Shed around here for that…not even in the worse neighborhoods (well, “worse” by Denver standards, anyway).

            There are definite advantages to Rust Belt living. I have a feeling cities like Pittsburgh (and Cleveland, and Detroit, and St. Louis, and so on) are poised for a comeback.

            @dal:
            I feel the same way about Denver, but I’m probably priced out of here forever. It’s officially gone nuts here. The time to buy was 10 years ago, and that was right during the worst part of my marriage / impending divorce. I couldn’t have gotten bought for a cup of coffee.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The only Jag E I’m interested in was built in 1965 with smooth straight six power and electrics by the Prince of Darkness.

  • avatar

    “There is a radio volume knob, but it’s small and oriented nearest the passenger for some inexplicable reason.”

    The reason is RHD markets, where the design originated. They’re saving money using the same center stack globally.

  • avatar

    $58,210

    Fuuuuuu_. That’s a lot.

  • avatar
    bking12762

    It certainly does not scream Jaguar..

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Corsica – damn!

    If only that interior was as lux as the press trip. Am I the only one who thinks a Proper Jaguar has to have lots of wood trim?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I can’t dismissively wank any harder.

  • avatar
    carguy

    For nearly $60K you can get a well equipped X3 M40, Audi SQ5 or GLC43.

    This seems a lot like a warmed over FWD based Evoque and it still comes with that awful 9-speed ZF transmission.

    No thanks.

  • avatar
    tinbad

    Completely off topic, but interesting to see the press car is registered in the Netherlands (plates). As someone who lived there for 20 years I’m pretty sure that’s not the best place to register cars, especially when they don’t have the (tax exempt) business plates?!

  • avatar
    mcbacon

    I actually like the way this looks. It almost reminds me of my beloved 1st gen FX in visual proportions. I’d love a diesel in this thing.

  • avatar
    Wunsch

    The volume knob on the passenger side actually makes complete sense. The driver has controls on the steering wheel. The knob is just there for the passenger, so why not make it easy to reach?

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