The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE is a brand-new premium subcompact crossover that follows a successful formula. Jaguar has a genuine hit on its hands with the larger F-PACE crossover, thanks to its blend of style and driving abilities. The plain fact that it’s a crossover no doubt helps a lot as well. Since buyers are keen on keeping the luxury but reducing the size, it only makes sense for Jaguar to oblige.
The E-PACE might even outsell its big sibling. It certainly has the looks and talent to do so. The interior also appears to be classier than the F-PACE’s (the only main complaint about that vehicle).
Fun fact: The E-PACE is being built by Magna Steyr in Austria, a facility that produces several high-end vehicles for German companies — the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, for example.
What’s New for 2018?
The E-PACE is totally new this year.
What We Like
Styling; excellent road manners; lots of comfort up front
What We Don’t
Not so much comfort in the back
There are two turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines available, both connected to a 9-speed automatic transmission and driving all four wheels.
One makes 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving.
The other, found in the R-Dynamic variants, develops 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The EPA puts consumption at 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. Both engines require premium gasoline.
The all-wheel-drive system in the R-Dynamic models (called Active Driveline) is the more sophisticated of the two. Whereas the regular E-PACE’s system features permanent all-wheel drive, the Active counterpart runs purely as a front-drive setup in undemanding conditions to optimize fuel efficiency. When a situation arises that demands more traction, the system can send torque to the rear axle or both axles, and even favor some wheels over others.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE is available in standard and more powerful R-Dynamic guises. The former comes in base, S and SE trim levels; the latter’s trims are the S, SE and HSE.
The entry-model E-PACE ($39,595) has selectable driving modes, push-button start, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, a rear spoiler, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth upholstery, 8-way manually adjustable front seats, 60/40-split/fold rear seats, a rearview camera, forward-collision mitigation, lane-keeping assistance, driver-fatigue monitoring, parking sensors front and rear, a 10-in infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth, voice control, a 6-speaker audio setup, two USB ports and four 12-volt outlets.
The S ($42,495) adds 18-in alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a self-dimming rearview mirror and side mirrors (the latter incorporating puddle lamps), leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, navigation, Wi-Fi (for up to eight devices), Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, a 360-degree camera system, road-sign recognition and reverse-traffic detection.
The SE ($45,295) comes with 19-in alloy wheels, 14-way power-adjustable front seats with memory settings, a powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, blind spot monitoring and an 11-speaker/380-watt Meridian audio-system upgrade (Meridian systems are highly regarded in the automotive-audiophile world).
The R-Dynamic S ($48,245) has its own cosmetic additions to go with the more powerful engine and more advanced all-wheel-drive system. It also gets bigger front brake discs. Otherwise, it mirrors the regular S trim. That’s also the case with the R-Dynamic SE ($51,045).
The R-Dynamic HSE ($54,095) rolls with 20-in alloy wheels, keyless entry, perforated leather seats, 18-way power-adjustable front seats with memory, and a gesture-controlled tailgate (a wiggled foot will work).
Much of the standard equipment in the higher trims is available at extra cost in less-expensive variants.
A 12.3-in configurable digital driver information display is on the options list. So is a head-up display, a perpendicular/parallel self-parking function, a panoramic sunroof, 21-in alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension, multicolored ambient LED cabin lighting, a heated steering wheel, heated windshield-washer jets, side steps, stainless steel/rubber sport pedals and a 15-speaker/825-watt Meridian Surround Sound system.
Another noteworthy option is the Activity Key. It goes on the wrist and looks like a fitness gadget; it’s waterproof and shockproof, so it can be worn while surfing or rock climbing, etc. It enables the user to leave the usual key in the vehicle; the vehicle is then locked by placing the Activity Key on the tailgate’s sensor. It doesn’t need a battery.
Cargo space with the rear seats in place is 24.2 cu ft.; folding them down creates 52.5 cu ft. That compares well with rivals.
In addition to all the mandatory safety equipment, such as stability control, airbags (including an exterior pedestrian airbag) and antilock brakes, the E-PACE also has emergency braking assistance, hill-start assistance, trailer-stability assistance and Corner Brake Control.
The E-PACE has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). A similar program in Europe (EuroNCAP) gave the E-PACE its top overall score of five stars.
Behind the Wheel
Every Jaguar has a well-tuned suspension that not only achieves the seemingly impossible task of providing precision while remaining comfortable, but makes it seem easy. The E-PACE benefits from this expertise. And that’s before you pay extra for the adaptive suspension. Handling is further enhanced by Jaguar’s "torque vectoring by braking" system, which will subtly apply the brakes to one or more wheels to maintain the desired line through a corner. This small luxury crossover should be able to keep up with many sport sedans.
Jaguar’s sister company, Land Rover, has contributed a little expertise in the form of All-Surface Progress Control, which is like a slow-motion cruise control for when things get tricky underfoot.
Occupant space is not an issue up front — it’s more than pleasant in that location. It’s in the back where legroom and headroom is limited. Then again, there’s a reason why this crossover is called small.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Audi Q3 — The 2018 Q3 is due for replacement. If you can wait for a while, the 2019 version shouldn’t disappoint.
2018 BMW X1 — All-new for 2018. Like its predecessor, it’s superb to drive, well packaged, extremely practical and a little pricey.
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque — The original petite luxury crossover. There’s even a convertible version.
2019 Lexus UX — Due on sale December 2018. Like the E-PACE, it’s a completely new model.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class — Based on the A-Class platform. Classy, slightly understated, yet well-equipped for the price.
2019 Volvo XC40 — Yet another all-new vehicle, and earning rave reviews from everyone who drives it because of its style, driving manners and safety tech.
By all means, get the more powerful engine, but the regular SE will probably be quick enough and sufficiently well-equipped to please most buyers.