Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9
  • Lots of choice in diesel or petrol
  • Frugal and high-power choices
  • Plug-in hybrid new for 2021

What engine options are there?

The Jaguar E-Pace comes with six different engine options, and most are fitted with a nine-speed automatic transmission (eight-speed auto for the plug-in hybrid), and all-wheel drive. The entry-level D165 is the only one available with six-speed manual option with front wheel drive.

The range isn't as complicated as it may seem, though – all E-Pace cars (except for the plug-in hybrid) are powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine (in diesel or petrol forms).

Petrol engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
P200
200hp, 320Nm
8.5secs
132mph
P250 249hp, 365Nm
7.5secs
142mph
P300 300hp, 400Nm
6.9secs
150mph

The cheapest and slowest petrol, the P200, is sprightly enough for an entry-level model, while the P250 doesn't feel as fast as the on-paper figures suggest. We tested this mid-range unit and found it to be smooth once on the move, but a little rough around the edges - especially from a cold start.

In Normal mode, the P250's performance is quite underwhelming. This isn't helped by the gearbox's decision making - eagerly changing down when you'd expect gentle acceleration using the engine's torque, and yet refusing to shift down when you need ample acceleration to get up to motorway traffic speeds.

Progress is hardly relaxing when you couple the former's frequent burst of acceleration with the strong levels of regenerative braking from the mild hybrid system, causing occupants to lurch back and forth quite often.

Switch to Dynamic mode and the P250 behaves much better - livening up performance, with far better responses from the gearbox.

Jaguar E-Pace P250 engine 2021

Top of the bill however is the powerful P300. As it stands, this is the closest thing Jaguar makes to a small, performance SUV, although the weight of the E-Pace means it doesn’t accelerate quite like a similarly powerful Volkswagen Golf R. It sounds quite sporting, which is a good thing in a car that's aimed at keen drivers.

Slip the P300 into its Dynamic drive mode, with a more responsive throttle, and that rush of energy comes on suddenly as the revs approach 2,000rpm, resulting in a shove of acceleration; fine on a long straight, but less than ideal on a windy stretch of back road where it charges forward just as you need to begin braking.

Conversely it feels more pliable left in the Comfort setting. One of the downsides of leaving it in Comfort is that the petrol motor’s uncanny ability to sound diesely becomes more obvious – again a switch back to Dynamic mode pipes a rortier, more muscular note through the E-Pace’s speakers.

Plug-in hybrid

Jaguar's plug-in hybrid E-Pace is badged the P300e. It's an impressive system that combines a 197bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol and a 109hp electric motor into a neat AWD package.

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
P300e
309hp, 540Nm
6.5secs
134mph

 

It never feels as quick as its 0-62 time would suggest. But that's hardly the point of this plug-in system.

Unlike with some plug-in hybrids, changeover between petrol and electric power is smooth. You can order it to go into hybrid, save, and full-EV mode. They're pretty self-explanatory and easy to use - much like the rest of the car.

Diesel engines

There are two choices of output here. The base model D165 comes with a manual gearbox, front-wheel drive and no mild-hybrid. Next up is a version with the same power, but comes with a mild-hybrid system, automatic gearbox, and all-wheel drive. 

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
D165 (manual)
163hp, 380Nm
9.5secs
128mph
D165 (automatic) 163hp, 380Nm
9.2secs
124mph
D200 204hp, 430Nm
7.9secs
131mph

 

The six speed manual isn’t the nicest gearbox to use, with plenty of resistance and not in the way you’d want it. Thankfully it's not too light or baggy when shifting gears, but instead, it's gone too far the other way, resulting in something that’s notchy and awkward to get into gear. Combine this with a long throw and it just feels like it hampers progress.

It's a shame as the engine is smooth and quite responsive, picking up momentum once it wakes up above 1,750rpm, developing all of its power quite well. As an entry-level engine there are no real complaints in regards to its performance, but you may be better placed going for the automatic transmission, even if it is slightly slower.

Next up is the more powerful D200. It’s only slightly faster than the front-wheel drive D165. Both are quite gruff, although each time we drive one, it seems smoother than the last, so they may be improving.

Playing with the drive modes releases this engine's potential with a quicker-responding accelerator settings in Dynamic mode. Comfort feels more like the sweet spot for every day driving, though, and in this mode the standard nine-speed automatic feels more harmonious. Yes, there are paddles for gear-changing behind the steering wheel, but it’s more than happy doing its own thing in fully automatic mode.

How does it handle?

  • Firm and sporty suspension
  • Resists bodyroll well in corners
  • Surprisingly good off-road too

The Jaguar E-Pace is based on the same platform as the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. That means it’s quite a bit heavier than its rivals. It’s surprising therefore how well this SUV handles, and how much grip is offered up by the all-wheel drive system, where fitted.

It's resolutely sporty drive, with a firm ride that endows it with a strong resistance to bodyroll. It is also offered with adaptive dynamics (where the car's systems adapt automatically to the road conditions), and torque vectoring by braking.

On- and off-road tech

All E-Pace models come with the Drive Control system, which has four drive modes including Normal, Dynamic, ECO plus Rain, Ice and Snow. Helping to tailor the E-Pace’s handling is the optional Configurable Dynamics package – this gives you a special page on the touchscreen where you can alter the throttle, steering and transmission. This system also configures the adaptive suspension, where fitted.

All E-Paces except for the D165 model come with four-wheel drive. A Haldex-based system is available on the D165, D200 and P250 – and the top P300 petrol engine use a slightly more sophisticated Active Driveline system. This means it's mostly front-wheel drive, but can direct up to 100% of the torque sent to either of the rear wheels to ensure maximum cornering control in poor conditions.

For off road drivers, there's an optional low-speed cruise control called All Surface Progress Control. It takes over the engine and brakes and can be set between 1-18mph, to maintain a comfortable, steady speed on inclines and descents. We tested this system off-road and found it delivered a fuss-free and effortless drive on some pretty tricky terrain. A variety of wet, rocky and gravelly inclines and descents proved no problem for the E-Pace on test.

What it's like on the road

For buyers looking for something realtively sporty with a family-friendly wrapping the E-Pace is more than acceptable. It feels pretty small and agile on the move, with its agility amplified by well-controlled body movements and roll through corners that’s kept neatly in check.

The steering isn't particularly weighty or communicative, which is unlike other Jaguars in the range, but the saving grace is its relatively quick response, ably assisted by electronics that adjust the power flow to the rear wheels, ensuring a tight line is maintained most of the time. There’s enough traction for it to be predictable and confidence-building.

The BMW X2 is the closest rival in terms of outright handling, while the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Range Rover Evoque are much more comfort-orientated, even if they're not far behind,