2018 Jaguar E-Pace Preview

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 29, 2017

The 2018 Jaguar E-Pace ticks the usual compact-crossover boxes, with turbo-4 power and standard all-wheel drive.

After just a year on the ground with its first SUV, the F-Pace, there's another crossover-SUV nameplate coming to Jaguar: E-Pace.

No, it's not the all-battery SUV coming next year. That's dubbed the I-Pace. In Jaguar's lexicon, this new crossover's related in size to the XE sedan, though it doesn't share its aluminum-intensive body.

From first glance, the E-Pace has a taller, more stubby look than its longer F-Pace cousin. That sleek SUV's cues have been compressed here, in a mostly attractive way. The high front end has a low-set mesh grille, big air intakes, and slim angled LED headlights. Down its sides, the body has some deep insets that offset some of the height, while the fenders curve and swell at the rear in a rush, starting their stamping halfway into the rear doors. The body-color roof can be fitted with panoramic glass, or painted black for contrast. There's a Mazda or a Macan-like quality to the shape and steep angle of the rear side and hatch glass, but the slim strip of taillights is more distinctive thanks to angled LED elements that square off the rounded shapes you'd see on a Jaguar sedan.

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Inside the E-Pace, there's some clothes-borrowing afoot. The F-Type sports car's layout has been cribbed here: The E-Pace has a wide center console with a built-in handle that separates the controls from the front passenger. The tightly composed cockpit has similar climate-control knobs with embedded digital readouts, and the dash itself has stitched seams that lend it a neatly tailored appearance.

Weighing in at 4,175 pounds, the E-Pace draws power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 rated for two different power levels. Base models spin out 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque through twin-scroll turbos with the help of direct fuel injection. The higher-rated turbo-4 nets 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, good for a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 151 mph. The 246-hp version checks in at 6.6 seconds and 143 mph.

All U.S.-spec E-Pace SUVs will have a 9-speed automatic transmission, sourced from ZF, very much like the one found in the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. Paddle shift controls stick to the steering wheel in R-Dynamic models. The gearbox has an Eco mode to slow down throttle and to upshift rapidly, while Dynamic models hang in lower gears longer and push fuel through more quickly. A third mode lets the E-Pace launch and move smoothly when traction suffers.

To that end, the E-Pace also comes standard with all-wheel drive. The 246-hp model has a system that splits power between the front and rear axles and uses brake power to curb understeer, for an electronically simulated version of torque vectoring. The high-output model gets a more complex system with a twin-clutch rear differential that delivers true torque vectoring; it can also disconnect its rear axle for better gas mileage.

The E-Pace rides atop front MacPherson struts and an integral-link rear suspension, both of which mount into subframes for better chassis performance and isolation. Some models will be built with adaptive dampers that can switch from normal to sport mode. The E-Pace's stability control system gets a low-speed traction mode that smooths out launches. Eighteen-inch wheels, even 21-inch wheels, are an option, while 17-inchers come standard on base models.

The five-seat E-Pace has a body built from a mix of steel, magnesium, aluminum, and composites, which means it's quite different from the bigger F-Pace and its aluminum-intensive body; it's a more close relative of the Disco Sport and Evoque. With a 105.6-inch wheelbase and a 173.0-inch overall length, the E-Pace may seem snug for five passengers, but cargo space will be good, at 52.5 cubic feet behind the front seats, and 24.2 cubes behind the rear seat. Jaguar's fashioned lots of molded-in storage for water bottles and iPads in the E-Pace's door panels and center console.

Base models come with cloth seats, something we've not seen in a Jaguar in recent memory, while leather is an option on some versions and standard on the plushest models. Safety features will include lane-departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control. So far, we've only sat inside the E-Pace, but we've found pre-production models to look and feel like proper luxury vehicles. Their rear seats are tight, but no more than what you'll find in rivals.

The E-Pace comes with cruise control, power features, and Bluetooth with audio streaming. A 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system can be upgraded to a 12.3-inch screen. High-power audio, ambient lighting, a head-up display, and up to five USB ports can be specified, as can a power-operated, gesture-controlled tailgate and in-car data service, as well as navigation. The infotainment houses a display that clocks lap times and cornering forces.

Priced from below $40,000, the E-Pace goes on sale in the fall of 2017. Top versions will nudge $55,000, including destination charges.

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