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REVIEW – Jaguar E-Pace Chequered Flag

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Jaguar E-Pace 2.0 D180 AWD Chequered Flag
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4

Summary

Jaguar’s new baby SUV – the E-Pace – is a rather appealing proposition. It’s very cute with its compact, coupe-like styling. Chequered Flag additions boost sportiness. The interior doesn’t feel quite as premium as the Range Rover Evoque, and the D180 engine doesn’t do this car justice. It lacks oomph, and it’s not even that efficient. Opt for a more powerful engine and you’ll feel like you’re getting so much more car for your money…


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Exterior Styling

SUVs come in all shapes and sizes these days – from shoe boxes to ocean liners and everything in between. So if you’re after a Jaguar SUV you have the choice of two: the larger F-Pace and its baby brother the E-Pace.

Sharing a platform with the Range Rover Evoque – a car we drove recently and absolutely loved – the E-Pace appears cute, and compact. It’s well proportioned, with coupe-like styling.

The Chequered Flag edition is based on the sportier R-Dynamic trim, but benefits from 19-inch Satin Dark Grey alloy wheels, a Black Design Pack and Fixed Panoramic Roof. It’s available in a whole three colours – white, grey or red.

Our test car further improved the exterior styling by adding 21-inch diamond-turned alloys, which more than adequately fill the arches. It also had privacy glass and matrix LED headlights for a premium flair.

The side profile, despite being slightly taller, is distinctly coupe-like. The windows taper up at the rear, and the rear arches are broad and muscular.

Around the back the lights are distantly similar to the F-Type. In keeping with the coupe theme, the rear window is small and is framed by a rather large spoiler. The rear bumper incorporates two exhaust tail pipes rather neatly.

Instead of the more common winged diffuser, the E-Pace R-Dynamic gets a simple piece of body-coloured trim. It creates a clean line, perfectly rounding off an exterior package which oozes style. Park this outside the local shops and you’ll be glad to see it when you return.

Interior Finish

Inside, the E-Pace continues the coupe styling theme. Elevated driving position aside, the actual design and styling is very sporty. In fact, there are several styling cues from the F-Type.

First of these is the passenger grab-handle incorporated into the centre console. Also, the passenger side of the dashboard is sharply raked so as to not obscure the view out of the windscreen.

Much of the interior is black, and leather. There is, inevitably, some faux leather but this can be forgiven with the E-Pace being the baby of the Jaguar family.

Red stitching is about all the contrast you get in the E-Pace. Thankfully the panoramic roof lets a lot of light in, because it’s very much black on black in the cabin.

The front seats are inviting, with good side and leg bolster support to hold you comfortably in place. They’re not quite a fixed-headrest bucket, but – with winged shoulders – they appear almost so.

Jaguar has also fitted a round steering wheel on the E-Pace. As crazy as that may sound, it seems that every single sporty car has a flat-bottomed one these days. And somehow that doesn’t suit the SUV, no matter how sporty. So good call, Jaguar.

Ahead of the steering wheel is a fully-digital instrument cluster. This can be customised to show a combination of map, dials, trip and media information that best suits you.

It may be a bit monotonous, but there are no questions with build quality. The E-Pace feels well built, and there are no dodgy plastics to be had anywhere. Yet somehow, the interior on the Range Rover Evoque feels that little bit more premium. And, of the two, it’s the one we’d rather be sat in.

Engine/Performance

With the E-Pace Chequered Flag comes a choice of four engines; two diesel and two petrol. On the diesel front, the power outputs are 150PS and 180PS. Petrol-wise, there are 200PS and 250PS variants. All of the engines are 2.0-litre, four-cylinder units.

Our test car had the D180, which is the diesel with 180PS and 430Nm of torque. It sends the power to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Be under no illusions though, with the D180 under the bonnet the E-Pace is not what you’d call quick. Not even close.

0-62mph – on paper at least – takes 9.1 seconds. And if you can stay interested enough to keep going, it will reach a top speed of 127mph. So for all its sporty appearance this particular Chequered Flag is unlikely to reach the finish line in first place.

Once behind the wheel, things aren’t quite as drab as the paper figures would suggest. Once on the move, the 430Nm ensures you make decent in-gear progression. The gear changes are both fast and smooth, allowing you to ride the wave of torque.

That being said, this is a very good four-cylinder engine. Even if you let it run towards the red line, it doesn’t become rattly and insufferable, which is good. And it doesn’t seem to run out of puff either, perhaps because there isn’t much puff to run out of…

Ride/Handling

The Jaguar E-Pace behaves itself rather well on the road. On the hand that’s not at all surprising, given that the E-Pace is based on the brilliant XE saloon. But then there’s the other hand: as an SUV with a taller frame the E-Pace is starting off on the wrong foot for handling prowess.

Seeing the low-profile tyres wrapped around the 21-inch alloy wheels didn’t instil any confidence either. Having recently driven the Range Rover Velar with a similar setup, and finding it a little firm and unforgiving, there was a sinking feeling this would be much of the same.

But alas, the E-Pace is somehow much better. Sure, you notice lumps and bumps in the road. After all, 21-inch alloy wheels on a car this size doesn’t leave a lot of protection from the road. But it never felt uncomfortable or unpleasant.

There’s no fancy air suspension, but our test car did have the optional Adaptive Dynamics, which includes adaptive dampers. This system changes the handling characteristics based on the drive mode selected. Which means that in comfort mode, the damping is soft enough to overcome those low-profile tyres.

And yet in Dynamic mode, the E-Pace tackles corners remarkably well. Considering it weighs a not-so-sleight 1,768kg it resists body-roll tremendously. If anything, its cornering ability only further proves that the D180 is not powerful enough for the E-Pace. You just know that with the P250 petrol engine it would be a hoot and a half.

Steering weight also varies by drive mode: light and effortless in Comfort mode, heavier and more engaging in Dynamic mode. Sadly there’s not much in the way of steering feel, but the directness is nice.

Economy

So with the D180 feeling a little underpowered, it must be that this is the frugal diesel where efficiency is more important than power? Well, it would appear not, because the D180 leaves a bit to be desired on this front.

The combined fuel consumption under the WLTP testing cycle is 36.1mpg. That’s not exactly awful – it’s certainly more than the petrol engines offer – but with a smaller, less powerful engine a figure in the 40s would have been hoped for.

That being said, the E-Pace tries its best. The 8-speed automatic is designed with efficiency in mind. There’s an Eco drive mode which selects the optimal gear for efficiency and reduces throttle responsiveness to discourage heavy acceleration.

There’s start/stop technology to save fuel when in traffic, and the Ingenium engines make use of Diesel Exhaust Fluid technology. The system works by injecting AdBlue into the exhaust system to break down nitrogen oxide emissions into water vapour and nitrogen gas, cutting nitrous oxide emissions by up to 90%.

CO2 emissions are 158g/km, resulting in VED of £530 for the first year and £145 thereafter. With this particular model – the D180 Chequered Flag – the P11d value is £39,890. So if you choose any options you’ll be paying the £320 VED surcharge.

The Benefit In Kind (BIK) tax rate percentage is 37% – which means a basic rate taxpayer will pay £2,952 per year, or £246 per month.

Practicality

Compact SUVs are never quite as large as you might think. As a result, some of the interior dimensions are less generous than you might expect.

In the E-Pace however, it’s only really the rear seats where you notice. And even then, it will only be 6ft-plus adults who find the legroom sub-optimal. Headroom, on the other hand, is fine throughout the cabin.

The boot isn’t exactly vast but, at 577 litres, is still plenty for family life. You won’t struggle with the food shop or the family pooch, providing it’s not a Newfoundland.

If you want to use the E-Pace as a tow vehicle, you’ll be pleased with the 1,800kg braked and 750kg unbraked towing limit. That torquey diesel with all-wheel drive will have no trouble with a caravan or small car trailer.

The all-wheel drive system itself is worth a mention, too. Jaguar may not have the pedigree of its sister company; Land Rover. But let’s not forget that the companies now share technology and, as a result, the E-Pace is a rather capable car.

It never struggles to put its power down, though with 180PS nor should it. And the majority of E-Pace owners will never take their cars anywhere even remotely off-road. But when it snows, or when the rain is relentless, it’s nice to know that the Jaguar has your back.

Being more compact also has the advantage of being easier to potter around the village in and, rather importantly, easier to park.

Equipment

The Chequered Flag trim is a special edition on the Jaguar E-Pace. It has been designed to offer an extremely attractive styling package with a decent amount of tech, that doesn’t cost the earth.

Standard specification of the E-Pace includes automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, keyless start, front and rear parking aid and a reversing camera.

For comfort and convenience you get dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, heated windscreen and heated washer nozzles.

The 10” Touch Pro infotainment system is standard, as is a 125W Jaguar Sound System with DAB, Bluetooth and voice control.

Safety equipment is plentiful, with driver condition monitor, lane keep assist, emergency brake assist and power operated child locks.

The Chequered Flag edition features all the standard R-Dynamic styling additions – body kit, twin tailpipes and such – but builds on this with even more goodies.

You get keyless entry, power tailgate, 10-way electrically-adjustable front seats, digital instrument cluster, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Styling-wise, the Chequered Flag models feature the exterior Black Design Pack. This comprises gloss black window surrounds, grille surrounds and side vents. Last, but by no means least, is a stunning fixed panoramic roof with retractable sun blind.

There are, inevitably, many options that can be added to the E-Pace to bolster the specification, but it has to be said that for a car in this segment it comes generously equipped.

Value For Money

The E-Pace range starts at £29,080 for the D150 manual front-wheel drive. At the opposite end of the scale is the P300 R-Dynamic HSE automatic all-wheel drive, at £49,395 on the road.

The D180 Chequered Flag model we tested, which is all-wheel drive and automatic, costs £40,800 on the road: pretty much slap-bang in the middle of the range. But its well-balanced specification makes it a very tempting proposition indeed.

Sure, the R-Dynamic HSE has more. But do you really need 18-way adjustable, Windsor leather seats over the 10-way non-memory ones of the Chequered Flag?

Then we come to the options. There are a fair few available, and our test car had many of them fitted.

Some of these were no-brainers: privacy glass (£350), Adaptive Dynamics (£820) and the Drive Pro Pack (£765) comprising blind spot assist, adaptive cruise control with queue assist and high-speed emergency braking.

On the tempting, but not exactly essential, list are heated steering wheel (£200), configurable ambient interior lighting (£310) and the Park Pro Pack (£565) which comprises park assist, 360-degree parking camera and rear traffic monitor.

Other options on our test car included premium carpet mats (£205), 21-inch alloy wheels (£1,550), head-up display (£920) and matrix LED headlights (£950). These options were all nice – especially those fetching alloy wheels – but also cost a lot considering none of them would be particularly missed if they weren’t there.

The main problem with this particular car, however, is the D180 engine. It just leaves too much to be desired, in terms of performance, for a car that costs £47,435 as tested: you can have a P300 R-Dynamic SE for less.

If you like the E-Place Chequered Flag – and there’s a lot to like – then spend a little more on the P250 petrol, which starts at £42,810.

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Max power 180PS at 4,000rpm
Max torque 430Nm at 1,750rpm
Drivetrain 8-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
0-62mph 9.1 seconds
Top speed 127mph
Fuel tank size 56 litres
Fuel consumption 36.1 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 158 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,768kg
Towing capacity 1,800kg braked / 750kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 577 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £40,800
Price as tested £47,435
Company website www.jaguar.co.uk/jaguar-range/e-pace/index.html

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