Jaguar E-PACE First Edition

Jaguar E-PACE First Edition

Test Drive Notes Library
  • Pros

  • Looks. Jaguar is making some of the prettiest cars on the road these days. The E-PACE is a small-ish crossover with a beautiful, curved roof line, making it look almost like a fastback, but somehow better than a fastback. It balances tough and pretty.

  • Size. This is a good size for a lot of people who don’t want really big, honking SUVs. It’s just a bit smaller than a Honda CR-V, for comparison. That means it’s plenty comfortable for one or two people, and can stick two more in the back seat, and some stuff in the cargo compartment. Rear seat legroom is adequate. Head room may be tight for taller folks, since the roof slopes down back there. Cargo room is also adequate, but certainly not copious. But it’s small enough to be easy to drive and maneuver in town and city driving. Parking is easy.

  • Interior. Our test version was a loaded “First Edition,” which came with leather seats, rain sensing wipers, dual zone climate controls, automatic high beams, etc, etc. Inside, it’s den like; dark, cozy, expensive feeling, and leathery. Front seats are very comfortable. There’s an enormous — nearly full length — moonroof with an electric screen that retracts to let the sun in. The roof itself does not open.

  • Controls. The climate controls are a treat: three, big, easy to use round knobs. The infotainment screen is also modern sized. Jaguar’s system is fairly intuitive. But we found the audio “source” selector a level deeper than we’d like, since it’s something we use commonly. A welcome volume button is on the dash under the screen, but it’s on the far side of the center console from the driver. We use that far more often than the rear defroster button, which was, oddly, placed closest to the driver. We’ll give Jaguar a pass here and assume they made one console for left and right hand drive models.

  • Sporty handling. The Jaguar's handling makes it fun to drive. It’s happy to zip around curvy roads. Steering is precise and well balanced.

  • Highway ride. The E-PACE feels solid on the highway, with precise steering combined with a reasonably comfortable ride. There’s plenty of power from the 4 cylinder 246 horsepower turbocharged engine.
  • The E-PACE feels solid on the highway, with precise steering combined with a reasonably comfortable ride.

  • All Wheel Drive. Congratulations. You can look pretty and still get to work when it snows.

  • Cons

  • Low speed engine noise. When we first got in the E-PACE and maneuvered it around the parking lot and slow moving city streets, the engine sounded like an older, compact car engine. More VW than Jaguar. Gritty, you might say. It has plenty of power, but the sound of the engine is a bit non-luxury at low speed. At higher speeds, the car is nice and quiet, and normal, subdued road noise covers up the engine sound, and you never notice it.

  • Transmission. The E-PACE uses a new, 9-speed dual clutch automatic, which works very well once it gets going. But it does have that dual clutch syndrome where it hesitates momentarily at times — particular from a dead stop, or when you want to suddenly accelerate. That makes acceleration a bit jerky sometimes. Give us a good, modern slosh box automatic any day.

  • Ride. We can’t say it’s an uncomfortable ride, but neither is it supple in the way, say, an Audi is. The suspension is tuned more for performance and handling. And when you factor in the relatively short wheelbase and the 20 inch wheels on our test car, the ride, let’s say, leans towards stiff.

  • Sensitive forward collision warning. We have mixed feelings about this. When you’re driving down a side street, and a car 100 feet ahead of you is stopped at a stop sign, the car will signal a collision warning. Sometimes it feels overly sensitive, when the danger of a collision seems quite low. On the other hand, with so many people staring at phones or navigating through screen menus while driving, maybe the sensitivity is just appropriate caution (i.e. assume people are really not paying any attention at all). We could not find a way to adjust the sensitivity. And adjustment would be a good addition.

  • Option creep. Keep in mind this complaint can apply to any small or mid-size luxury crossover these days. The E-PACE starts in the high $30s. But you’re more likely to pay in the high $40’s or low $50’s to get the car with the features and safety equipment you want (automatic emergency braking is an option). Our tester rang in at $54,545. It’s also closer in size to its competitor’s small crossovers (the BMW X1, Audi Q3, Volvo XC40), while its price bumps up against the larger, more luxurious ones (BMW X3, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60), which means you’re paying a premium for the looks and the Jaguar name.

  • Heads up. We really like the heads up display in the E-PACE. It projects clearly, and is well positioned. Our complaint is with the plastic bezel that surrounds the projector built into the top of the dash. Its black plastic reflects the sun and projects itself into the windshield on sunny days.

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