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The Top Gear car review:Jaguar E-Pace
For:It’s the most handsome, best-handling car in its class, and Jag’s best interior, XJ excepted
Against:Very expensive when specced, firm ride
What is it?
The Jaguar crossover. Just as the F-Pace is Jaguar’s SUV rival to the Porsche Macan, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the smaller, cuter E-Pace supposedly fights the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA. And no, it’s not an XE on stilts.
That’s because it sits on a platform that for cost reasons, shuns Jaguar’s favoured aluminium for steel. A platform from the Evoque, in fact. Not that you’ll find us complaining, as Jaguar’s aluminium cars are rarely that light, or very spacious. This is also the first Jaguar since the maligned X-Type that is available with front-wheel drive.
Jaguar says the quintessential versions are best sampled with all-wheel drive and the nine-speed automatic gearbox, but lower priced versions will come with two-wheel drive and a manual.
Don’t be confused by the name: ‘E’-Pace does not mean electric. Jaguar does not offer a plug-in hybrid or battery version of this car, and has no plans to until after 2021. For electric crossovers with a Jaguar leaper on the boot, you’ll want the I-Pace due in 2018. Here, it’s internal combustion only.
Engines, from Jaguar’s new ‘Ingenium’-badged family of powerplants, are all turbocharged, and all have four cylinders. Diesel-wise, offerings stretch from a base 148bhp diesel in the entry-level £28,500 E-Pace to 178bhp and 236bhp versions. Helpfully, the cars are all named after their power output in metric horsepower, so you simply have to choose between D150, D180 and D240 diesels.
Same goes for the petrols, and their P initial, though there’s no low-powered cheap version (yet). At launch, there’s a P250 and P300 pairing to choose between, and no matter which trim level you plump for, your petrol E-Pace will have all-wheel drive and the nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Negotiating the E-Pace trim level is a tad more complex and really splinters the range. Leaving aside the early, fully kitted out ‘First Editions’, which cost from £47,800, the basic sub-£29k E-Pace is just that: E-Pace. No initials, no extra nomenclature.
Up the ladder is HSE, then bodykitted R-Dynamic, R-Dynamic S and SE, plus a confusing combination: R-Dynamic HSE. For UK buying habits, a low-CO2 engine with automatic gears wearing flared bumpers and giant wheels will be the spec you’ll spot most often in the wild. Good job the E-Pace caters for rims up to 21 inches across, then…
So, all style and no trousers? Well, not quite…