Three years after first attempting to woo buyers with grace, space and pace in the compact SUV sector, the Jaguar E-Pace emerges today a slightly different animal: more Jaguar, more grown-up and a lot more switched on.
Coventry’s junior SUV’s mid-life refresh might be as expected, echoing design and technology updates already introduced across other JLR models, but it arrives as a timely boost for the British rival for cars like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
As well as a more premium look – all down to a nose ‘n tail reprofiling job, a smart new diamond-pattern mesh grille and Jaguar’s latest LED lights front and back – the new E-Pace marks Jaguar’s latest step towards electrification.
Only one E-Pace – the £32,575 front-wheel-drive diesel manual – remains purely combustion engined, while at the top of the range is a new plug-in hybrid with the ability to run for up to 34 miles on battery power alone, though this model doesn’t arrive until next year.
Between these extremes is a mix of JLR’s latest Ingenium petrol and diesel engines all with automatic transmission and a 48-volt integrated starter-generator providing a battery-powered efficiency boost in the increasingly common mild hybrid (MHEV) manner. The E-Pace powertrain line-up now parallels that of the Land Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport with which the E-Pace shares its underpinnings.
Those underpinnings have been tweaked a little. Jaguar says all models are now quieter and smoother than before thanks to new engine mounts, which also improves throttle response, and stiffer suspension mounts to enhance agility.
All versions also get a connectivity update and overhaul inside that centres on JLR’s impressive 11.4-inch curved-glass touchscreen, gateway to the new Pivi Pro infotainment system with always-on connection and embedded apps (so it doesn’t rely on your mobile phone). Jaguar says the on-screen menus have been simplified so that nine out of 10 common tasks can be accessed in two taps or less.
As with its Land Rover brothers, it is the plug-in P300e that best captures the mood of the moment. It combines a 200PS 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels with a 109PS electric motor driving the back wheels. All decisions about which end does what and when are made by electronics and according to whatever of the drive modes, ranging from eco to sport to electric-only, has been selected.
To get a full electric-only range of up to 34 miles – curiously less than that offered by P300e versions of the Disco Sport (38 miles) and Evoque (41 miles) – you have to start out with fully charged lithium-ion batteries. That’s an overnight job if using a domestic socket or just 30 minutes for an 80 per cent top-up from one of the 32kW public fast-charge points. Once charged, you can select a mode that preserves all the charge until you need it, for entering a city zero-emissions zone, for example.
Until then you have a total system power of 309PS at your disposal, enough for 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. That pips the ostensibly sportier model, the non-plug-in 300 Sport (6.9 seconds) but – again slightly curiously given most people would imagine a Jag to be quicker than a Landie – is actually a fraction slower than the P300e Evoque.
There are tax and other cost benefits to the plug-in E-Pace, centred on its official CO2 output of 44g/km. In contrast the mild hybrids in either petrol or diesel form come with CO2 outputs from 167g/km. There’s no price for the first plug-in E-Pace yet, but the Land Rover equivalents start from £43,850.
The new P300e may be a little sprightlier but the sportier model to drive is odds on to be the 2.0-litre four-cylinder 300 Sport, a car that gets its own standalone spec. A clutch-based all-wheel-drive system distributes torque between front and rear axles while this more dynamic set-up is further boosted by active damping.
The E-Pace 300 Sport is set apart in the looks stakes by its black accented 20-inch five-spoke diamond-turned wheels, gloss black exterior trim and, inside, by its illuminated Jaguar treadplates and suede headlining.
Other revised E-Pace models may not get all that but all do get softer cabin materials and new metallic finishes to boost the premium feel. Boosting the Jaguar feel are embossed Leaper logos on the headrests.
The E-Pace also falls into line with other JLR products with new technologies that include software-over-the-air updates; a new system of cabin air ionisation and filtration; an optional wireless phone charger; and Jaguar’s ClearSight rear view system that uses a wide angle rear-facing camera.
The new E-Pace modes are available to order now, with the P300e plug-in model arriving next spring.