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First Drive

First Drive: Jaguar E-Pace – 2021

Jaguar E-Pace P300E PHEV R-Dynamic S
The story: The plug-in hybrid offering continues to move across the Jaguar Land Rover line-up, joining the E-Pace baby SUV line-up along with a mid-life facelift that brings new tech.
Category:Small SUV
Key rival:Volvo XC40
On sale:Now

The baby of Jaguar’s SUV line-up has been given a pretty hefty refresh, with updates both on the surface and under the skin.

It’s acquired a new plug-in hybrid powertrain, while revisions also cover a new infotainment system, a revised cabin and various engineering updates.

A new bumper, grille and LED headlights make a difference at the front of the car, although it’s still got a little bit of an ungainly look about it, partially due to the very short overhangs, compared to some rivals or its larger F-Pace SUV sibling.

The new Pivi Pro infotainment system is making its way across the Jaguar Land Rover line-up and sits nicely integrated into the dashboard, unlike the tablet-stuck-on-a-dash look of some rivals. The system’s functionality matches its visual appeal, with neat use of colours and menus, and at 11.4 inches, the screen is larger than the ones in pre-facelift cars.

First Drive - April 2021 - Jaguar E-Pace - Image 7The cabin has also had a switchgear work-over, with a new gearlever and some changes to technology that include a new 3D surround-view camera.

From a powertrain point of view, there is now mild hybrid tech available on all bar the front-drive 165hp entry diesel engine, and the range-topper is now a 309hp plug-in hybrid model that offers an EV-only range of 34 miles and CO2 emissions of 44g/km.

The system combines a 200hp 1.5-litre petrol engine and 80kW/109hp electric motor that uses a 15kWh battery. It certainly offers enough power for an SUV that feels a lot smaller on the road than it looks, offering good poise and a decent drive, even if the ride is a touch on the hard side and refinement isn’t the best.

First Drive - April 2021 - Jaguar E-Pace - Image 6Rear space is reasonable, but the boot isn’t the biggest; it matches the BMW X2’s, but is well off the Mercedes GLA or Volvo XC40.

The biggest problem for the Jaguar is that it looks really rather expensive compared with its major rivals, with the entry of the three trim levels, Dynamic S, costing around £5000 more than its basket of PHEV adversaries, all of which are a shade under £40,000. It’s not a big step from the mild hybrid petrol to the PHEV, which makes the plug-in look like the sensible E-Pace choice, but most rivals are a better financial bet, especially with BiK paid on the P11D price.

paul barker

The verdict

Expansive update including the BiK friendly PHEV, but the plug-in looks expensive against premium-brand rivals.