Small but imperfectly formed

Shedding size but not weight, the E-Pace trails its sibling – JAGUAR E-PACE 2.0 HSE –

As we know, appearances can be deceptive and, in the case of the Jaguar E-Pace, my strong sense is that Jaguar would be delighted if you thought it essentially a Mrs Pepperpot specification version of its strong-selling and quite excellent F-Pace SUV. It stands to reason: it looks like an abbreviated F-Pace, its name differs by just one letter, and if you look at the ‘E’ and ‘F’ badges worn by the XE and XF saloons, they do indeed denote little and large versions of essentially the same car. With the E-Pace and F-Pace, however, this is emphatically not the case.

While the F-Pace sits on a very new, state-of-the-art all-aluminium platform derived from that used by the XE, XF and, indeed, the Range Rover Velar, the E-Pace is of humbler stock altogether.

Its closest relative is the Land Rover Discovery Sport, itself is a development of the old Land Rover Freelander that was originally spun off a Ford global architecture platform whose co-users included the previous-generation Mondeo.

Now I’m not saying for a moment that today’s E-Pace is yesterday’s Mondeo in disguise for it is nothing of the sort. But that’s its lineage and, frankly, it shows.

You can see it on paper just from the fact that, car for car, the E-Pace is more than 100kg heavier than the F-Pace despite being smaller in every significant dimension. This means that, engine for engine, it’s also slower, more thirsty and produces more CO2 than its bigger brother. Which sounds slightly crazy.

You can feel it on the road, too. Even with almost 300bhp the flagship model, the E-Pace never feels as rapid as its power output and dimensions suggest it should be. Unless you really wind it up, at which point its 2-litre ‘Ingenium’ engine becomes quite noisy. Overall, therefore, it is hard to avoid the conclusiion that its performance is barely adequate relative to what you might expect from a Jaguar that costs almost £50,000.

And you should be able to expect a Jaguar – any Jaguar – to handle superbly because that’s the one factor common to every one of every size and shape on sale, F-Pace included. Not any more. The E-Pace handles better than the average of the frankly lame standards of the under-achieving class in which it sits, but while it’s both secure and accurate, I would in no way call it fun.

Sad to say, the best way to enjoy this car is not to try to drive it fast, so rendering that 296bhp engine pointless. With a 177bhp diesel from a mid-range model doing the pulling, not only does the price drop by many thousands, but the incentive to drive fast is removed because it’s simply not possible.

In this form the E-Pace is a much less frustrating place to pass the time. It’s quiet, rides well and its cabin design is quite excellent. And, of course, your fuel bills will be slashed.

Even so, while the F-Pace far exceeded my expectations, the E-Pace fell short by a similar margin. For a car intended to be Jaguar’s top-selling model, that has to be a worry.


Jaguar E-Pace 2.0 HSE 

Price £48,410 Engine 2.0 litres, 4 cylinders, turbocharged Power296bhp@5500rpm Torque 295lb ft@1500rpm Weight 1984kg Power to weight 156bhp per tonne Transmission eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 0-62mph 6.4sec Top speed 151mphEconomy 35.3mpg CO2 181g/km