Of all the cars I’ve driven with Motor Trend over the past few years, my favorite might be the Jaguar F-Type. It’s not the quickest, most powerful, or most expensive sports car we’ve reviewed, but it’s both balanced and emotional. Its agile steering and throaty engine note are just as satisfying as its styling, and it offers everything from a sensible four-cylinder to a supercharged V-8. Jaguar drew inspiration from the F-Type when designing the E-Pace crossover, but it’s another matter altogether if its performance will capture our hearts in the same way as the sports car.
You’ll immediately notice the E-Pace shares visual cues with the F-Type, from the teardrop design of the side windows to the shape of the lights and the tapered-off rear end. In many ways, dimensions for the two vehicles aren’t all that far off. The E-Pace is 3 inches shorter than the F-Type, and its wheelbase is 2.4 inches longer. The model offers 246 hp in base form. But the more powerful version of the E-Pace delivers 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, and you’ll find these same specs on the turbo-four version of the F-Type.
We recently tested this more potent E-Pace crossover. Despite the same engine specs and its sporty looks, the E-Pace doesn’t resemble the F-Type at all in terms of driving experience. Unsurprisingly, the crossover proved slower in 0–60 tests. It hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, a whole second behind the F-Type equipped with the four-cylinder engine.
But let’s compare the E-Pace with its direct rivals. A 2019 Volvo XC40 we recently tested made it to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. Similarly, a 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i AWD and 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4Matic AWD hit the mark in 6.8 seconds and 6.9 seconds, respectively. The Jag’s superior numbers makes sense because it has the horsepower advantage here.
We were more surprised by another test. Although the E-Pace accelerates more quickly than its competitors, it’s slower to brake. This is despite the fact that the brakes bite down sharply when you first press them, giving the impression that they are going to bring you to a full stop quickly. The E-Pace required 130 feet to reach a complete stop from 60 mph. The Mercedes and Volvo only took 120 feet, while the BMW needed 122 feet.
In the figure eight, the crossover rounded the curves in 26.5 seconds at an average of 0.67 g. Among the competitors, the Mercedes came the closest to the E-Pace’s time, making its mark in 26.6 seconds at 0.67 g. Meanwhile, the Volvo managed 27.0 seconds at 0.65 g, and the BMW completed the test in 26.8 seconds at 0.65 g.
Although the Jag’s numbers are certainly reasonable, our test team reported noticeable understeer in the figure eight/skidpad tests.
“I wound up using third and fourth gears, as second is too short at corner exit,” road test editor Chris Walton said. “You have to drive this thing very carefully and well within a defined range of hustle to get the best out of it. Otherwise it delivers wide lines and mushy responses.”
Around town, the E-Pace won’t remind you of the nimble nature of the F-Type. Maneuvering at low speeds requires more turning of the wheel than you’d expect, even in Dynamic mode, and the wheel feels a bit heavy. And we were slightly disappointed with the E-Pace’s fuel economy. In our Real MPG tests, it scored 19.6/24.9/21.7 mpg city/highway/combined. That’s below its EPA rating of 21/27/23 mpg.
Despite sitting on 20-inch wheels, our E-Pace barely flinched over bumps and potholes. The cabin remained composed, though on the rigid side, when driving over imperfect roads, and it exhibited less rolling than our recently tested Volvo XC40. When accelerating onto the highway, this Jag emits a hearty exhaust note that hints at its bond with the F-Type.
One of the best-looking compact crossovers on the market is made even more comely with an optional black exterior package, which adds dark accents to the grille, side vents, and window surrounds. Inside the cabin, the E-Pace borrows the wraparound cockpit design and color schemes from the F-Type. Our model featured sumptuous Windsor leather seats, which were comfortable for long drives. The 10-inch touchscreen that comes standard with this high-trim model is equally as pleasing to the eye, and using the system isn’t so bad once you get the hang of it. We liked the navigation system that recognizes the names of many destinations, so drivers don’t have to type out the entire address. Unfortunately, the small emergency flasher button is positioned right below the screen where your hand might touch while your fingers are operating the controls. So I ended up activating the emergency flashers unintentionally on more than a couple occasions. The clean arrangement of buttons underneath the touchscreen and the simple climate control knobs are refreshing. One point of contention with the interior: It can be more difficult than usual to get into the rear seats. The rear doors don’t open very wide, which makes it inconvenient for loading passengers or cargo.
Depending on the trim, the E-Pace starts between $39,595 and well over $50,000, making it more expensive than rivals. However, we can’t complain about the bevy of features and the extra horsepower this coin affords. Some buyers will see the E-Pace as a more spacious alternative to a sports car, with F-Type looks and growl.
|2018 Jaguar E-Pace P300 R-Dynamic AWD HSE|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$62,090|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.0L/296-hp/295-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,248 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||173.0 x 78.1 x 64.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.0 sec @ 91.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||130 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.86 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.5 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||19.6/24.9/21.7 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||21/27/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||160/125 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.83 lb/mile|