What is it?
The E-Pace is not only Jaguar’s first compact SUV. It’s also the first Jaguar to be manufactured abroad.
It’s something of a shake-up, then, though one that was predictable given the potential spoils of this particular segment. And, just to be clear: the forecast is that this car will outsell the F-Pace, which itself now accounts for more than half the marque’s sales.
But the status quo has not been entirely disregarded. There’s been the barrage of negative publicity, fears over residual values and, in some parts, associated parking surcharges, but it’s still expected that three diesel E-Paces will roll off the production line for every petrol. Surprising? Perhaps not, because effortless diesel clout still suits this variety of car very well.
What's it like?
Put the two powerful petrol models – the P250 and P300 – to one side and there’s a choice of the D150, D180 or the D240 diesels. Jaguar says most buyers will opt for the D180, and given its useful fuel economy of 50.4mpg and swell of 317lb ft, it certainly strikes a good balance. One thing we took away from our first drive of that car was Jaguar seems to have improved the refinement of its Ingenium engine, too.
Those who would prefer greater performance might consider the D240 tested here. In its favour is the greatest torque output of any E-Pace, with 368lb ft from only 1500rpm, which is enough to drop the D180’s 0-62mph time by almost two seconds to 7.4. It would be quicker still was it not for the fact that this E-Pace is heavier than an equivalent-engined F-Pace. You’ll also take a 10% hit in fuel efficiency compared to the D180, though the manner in which the more potent model can thunder (often noisily, it must be said) between two points will make that a worthwhile trade for some.
There’s more to it than power, though. The four-wheel-drive hardware in the D240 is different to that which you’ll find in lesser models. They use a Haldex system borrowed from the Evoque. Here you get the same GKN-built system found in a Ford Focus RS, with clutch packs either side of the rear differential. Their job is to control the flow of power to each wheel in such a way that the E-Pace is imbued with the rear-driven feel that an SUV built on a front-wheel-drive platform naturally lacks.
In normal driving there is no discernable difference. Exit corners with some commitment, however, and there is a faint but satisfying sensation of propulsion from the rear outside corner. Admittedly, it’s a little artificial, and only half of the available torque can head rearwards. It means that while the D240 feels sure-footed and brisk, it never really entertains – not to the standards set by Jaguar itself.