Jaguar has shifted its focus more towards SUVs in recent years, which makes sense considering the market, but it comes at a price. Namely, the termination of the athletic XE sports sedan after just four years. The departure of that model leaves the Subcompact E-Pace SUV as an entry point to the British luxury brand, but in some ways a less suitable ambassador.
The E-Pace shares a platform and a mechanic with the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Range Rover Evoque rather than riding a modified version of the Larger F-Pace chassis. jaguar is known for the sensual exterior style – unfortunately, the E-Pace’s squat proportions can look clunky from some angles. Style updates for 2021 it helps to hide it somehow, but E-Pace isn’t a knockout yet. The front bumper has been redesigned with larger lower air intakes, a revised grille now wears mesh inlay, and the updated headlights sport new LED running lights.
The interior also sees some changes, most notably the abandonment of the 2020 models 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system for a new larger 11.4-inch unit running Jaguar-Land Rover’s latest Pivi Pro interface. The E-Pace’s steering wheel, gearbox and climate controls have also been changed for 2021 and more premium materials are used throughout the cabin, which helps to elevate the SUV’s appeal.
On the road
The entry-level P250 models are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 246 horsepower, but our test example was the more powerful P300 Sport, which uses a 296-horsepower version of that engine. While the more powerful engine handled acceleration times faster than the the last P250 we tested, its 6.5-second sprint to 60mph is still lagging behind other performance-tuned rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG GLB35 (4.9 seconds) and the BMW X2 M35i (4.5 seconds).
The Jag was even further off the mark in our quarter-mile test, where it took 15.0 seconds to cover that distance, 1.9 more than the fastest BMW. In the real world, the acceleration of the E-Pace is adequate and the engine is refined and quiet. The nine-speed automatic is indecisive about downshifts, however, it sometimes drops one gear, then, after a break, lowers another. The result is a few clicks when slowing to a stop. Otherwise, the powertrain does its business without disturbing the serenity of the cabin.
The ride of the E-Pace is pleasant, even on our car’s oversized 21-inch wheels, and the handling is quite lively. The steering feel is artificially heavy, but the turn is crisp and the E-Pace feels playful on curvy road sections. It’s not as athletic as the XE was, but it offers enough on-road appeal to pass for a modern Jaguar.
Inside the headstock
The E-Pace’s cabin is spacious for front seat passengers, with supportive bucket seats, adequate stowage space and a comfortable driving position. We also did not notice the same problem with the Pivi Pro infotainment system as we have seen in other recent Jaguar-Land Rover products with the same configuration. Except for one case where the system failed to recognize a paired iPhone, everything worked as expected.
The rear seat area, however, feels unusually cramped even for this class of subcompact SUV. Long-legged rear seat passengers will find limited space to bend their knees; The headroom isn’t particularly generous either. Cargo space is competitive with the segment, but buyers who need more passenger space will find the Volvo XC40 more accommodating.
Jaguar does its best to capitalize on the E-Pace’s cuteness and its position as a de facto entry-level model by incorporating several easter eggs into the SUV’s design. Along the windshield frame near the lower left corner is a silhouette of a mother jaguar and her cub; a puddle lamp projects a similar image onto the ground outside the E-Pace as the driver approaches at night. The detail work doesn’t stop there, as our E-Pace’s well-finished cabin featured an optional sewn-in dashboard trim, plush leather upholstery, 16-way adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, and a Meridian surround sound system from rich sound with 14 speakers.
Our Caldera Red P300 Sport is priced high at $ 59,805, which highlights the E-Pace’s biggest drawback: it’s expensive. Although it now serves as an entry-level model, the $ 42,045 starting price for the P250 base is thousands of dollars more expensive than its major rivals. Although we noticed that our test car turned heads at the exact cohort of younger drivers it was designed to appeal to, we suspect its price might put it off those shoppers’ shopping lists. E-Pace comes at a price for perfection, and while its virtues speak to our irrational side, its trade-offs make it difficult to justify to our rational side.
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