Parkers overall rating: 3.6 out of 5 3.6
  • Lots of choice in diesel or petrol
  • Frugal or high-power choices
  • No hybrid or electric model, yet

The Jaguar E-Pace comes with six different petrol and diesel power outputs, plus a choice of six-speed manual and nine-speed automatic transmissions, and front or all-wheel drive.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds though – all E-Pace cars are powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine (in diesel or petrol forms), and there’s currently no plug-in hybrid or electric version. Jaguar says that the E-Pace will be available in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) form, although that won't be until later in 2020 – at the earliest.

Jaguar's Ingenium diesels detailed

There are three choices here named after their power outputs – the closely matched D150 and D180 plus the high-power D240. Kicking things off, the D150 is the only front-wheel drive E-Pace available, and this comes with a manual transmission. It develops 150hp at 3,500rpm and 380Nm at 1,750rpm, which is good for a 10.1 second 0-62mph time.

The six speed manual isn’t the nicest gearbox to use, with plenty of resistance and not in the way you’d want it to be. Thankfully it's not too light or baggy when shifting gears, but instead, they’ve gone too far the other way, resulting in something that’s awkward to use, 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 with its 10.5-second 0-62mph time.

You can also select this motor with all-wheel drive, although this also increases the 0-62mph time to 10.7 seconds.

Next up is the more powerful D180, which makes its peak power at 4,000rpm, and 430Nm of torque at 1,750rpm. It’s only slightly faster than the front-wheel drive D150 in manual form to get from 0-62mph, taking 9.9 seconds, but the auto ‘box makes more of a difference taking 9.1 seconds. The D180 tops out at 128/127mph depending on transmission. Despite being a reasonably new engine the D180 is quite gruff, although each time we drive one, it seems smoother than the last, so they may be improving.

This is the most popular model in the range, which is justified given the combination of its competitive real-world fuel economy and decent acceleration. This additional performance with little or no cost at the pumps makes it the one to have for most buyers.

However, if you want more performance in your diesel SUV, then Jaguar has the E-Pace just for you. The D240, which is offered in four-wheel drive and automatic form only, boasts a hot hatch-like 7.4-second 0-62mph time thanks to a twin-turbocharged unit that delivers 500Nm of torque (pulling power) at just 1,500rpm.

After driving this one, we can confirm it feels punchy in its power delivery, making it fun to drive when you're on the motorway and need instant acceleration. It feels agile and responsive, and although it runs out of puff at around 4,000rpm, you'll be travelling quickly when you get there.

Playing with the drive modes releases this engine's potential with a quicker-responding accelerator settings in Dynamic mode. Comfort feels more like the D240's 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.

If your budget runs to the D240, this feels like the best of the diesels to drive. Despite its compact size, the E-Pace is actually quite heavy, and it feels it. So the pulling power it delivers is more than welcome in this car, and makes for a smooth and relaxed power delivery thanks to the slick automatic transmission. 

Ingenium petrol engines

Again, there are three choices here and they’re all four-wheel drive with automatic transmission only, kicking off with the P200. Performance is sprightly for an entry-level model with a 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds, and a maximum speed of 134mph. The P250 (with 249hp developed at 5,500rpm, and 365Nm at 1,350rpm) is usefully faster with a 7.1-second 0-62mph time and 143mph top speed.

Top of the bill however is the powerful P300, which cracks the sprint in 6.45seconds and goes on to 149mph, thanks to 400Nm and 300hp. 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 E-Pace 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.

Handling

  • 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 D150 model come with four-wheel drive. A Haldex-based system is available on the D150, D180 and P250 – and the top diesel and petrol engines use a more sophisticated Active Driveline. This means it's mostly front-wheel drive, but can direct up to 100% of that torque to either rear wheel 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 sporty-ish with a family-friendly wrapping the E-Pace is more than acceptable. It doesn't feel too big and bulky on the move, with its agility amplified by well-controlled body movements and roll through corners that’s kept neatly in check. The steering inspires confidence through a series of corners with 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.

Pity the steering doesn't have more feel though, but there’s enough traction for it to be predictable and confidence-building.

Conclusion – best version for keen drivers is the P300 with adaptive suspension, which you'll pay handsomely for on the forecourt and at the pumps, while the best version for everyone else is a front-wheel drive D180 on 18-inch wheels.