2018 Jaguar E-Pace first drive review: small crossover with big ideas
The E-Pace is wider than competitors, which according to Jaguar are the Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1. The Jag is a smidge bigger than both—perhaps a class larger—and we see a natural competitor in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio not only in performance, but also in achingly beautiful shapes translated into a crossover.
The E-Pace’s window lines reach up toward a gently arching roof that drops gracefully toward the rear end. The window line ends where the rear haunches start. Strictly speaking, these curves are wildly unnecessary. In France, they’re not only appreciated, but also celebrated. Around back, there’s a squat shape punctuated by two rear exhausts that burble a raspy note.
Inside, the E-Pace leaves more on the table than the F-Pace. Even in top trims, the E-Pace’s roots as an entry-level luxury crossover show through: the stitching on the dash is unconvincing and the knobs, switches, and center console have a temporal feel. If, five years from now, Jaguar is using the same materials for its cars, I will eat my paycheck.
Back to front
It’s all part of a bigger story.
Jaguar needs the E-Pace to assert itself against competitors that have a 10-year head start with crossovers. The plot is already developed.
Jaguar’s story is one of a driver-first compact luxury crossover that it largely delivers on. The lithe little utility vehicle’s hardware, looks, and stance view roads as conquerable terrain, but its daily reality is submissive and affordable starting under $40,000—and irresistibly good-looking.
For me, and mankind before me, falling in love in France is easy.