With this year's departure of the compact XE sedan, the E-Pace is now the British automaker's smallest model. It sits as the entry point of Jaguar's lineup of SUVs, below the F-Pace and I-Pace. Jaguar introduced the pint-sized E-Pace for the 2018 model year, and it issues a midcycle refresh for 2021 with revised styling and a new infotainment system. The model competes with other subcompact luxury SUVs including the Volvo XC40, BMW X1, and Lexus UX.
There's plenty to like about Jaguar's smallest SUV, and the styling is the most obvious. Elegant design doesn't always translate to the diminutive dimensions of the subcompact segment, but Jaguar's team did a great job with the E-Pace. It's more capable off-road than we'd expect, too, although it drives more like a fun hot hatch. The drawback is that it rides pretty stiff.
Things aren't all good, though. When the E-Pace competed in a three-car subcompact SUV comparison, it placed second, being held back by its glitchy tech and suboptimal packaging. The E-Pace's turbo-four engine, though adequately powerful, is a noisy little thing that lacks the refinement we expect in the luxury space. The SUV is heavy and not all that efficient, too. Staffers took issue with the interior material quality and unreliable infotainment system, although Jaguar has updated the infotainment and added new soft-touch materials around the cabin for 2021. For a sporty, stylish take on the luxury subcompact crossover formula, the E-Pace is a compelling pick.
Every E-Pace features a 2.0-liter turbo-four under the hood, but that forced-induction four-pot is offered in two states of tune. In P250 models, it develops 246 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Those who shell out for the E-Pace P300 get a version augmented by a mild hybrid system that increases output to 296 hp and 295 lb-ft. All E-Pace variants utilize a nine-speed automatic transmission and feature standard AWD.
There is a larger performance gap between the two variants than you might expect. When we tested an E-Pace P250, it took 7.8 second to reach 60 mph, whereas the P300 test hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Fuel economy (for the 2020 model) is almost the same at 21/28 mpg city/highway for the P250 and 21/27 mpg for the P300.
Jaguar includes some driver-assist features as standard on every E-Pace. Automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera are included on all models. The E-Pace SE adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and traffic sign recognition. Adaptive cruise control is available as an option.
Cargo volume behind the rear seat measures 22.4 cubic feet; that number swells to 49.5 cubes with the rear bench folded down. Among its competitors, that's right between the smaller Volvo XC40 and larger BMW X1. With 40.0 inches of legroom up front and 35.1 inches for rear passengers, the E-Pace is smaller in both dimensions than the BMW and Volvo.
New for this year, the E-Pace includes a standard 11.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It's well equipped as standard, too, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and integrated navigation included on all models. The system also features Google and Outlook calendar compatibility and over-the-air updates. A fully digital instrument cluster and head-up display are optionally available. Six-speaker audio is standard, but an 11- or 15-speaker Meridian system can be had if you select the right options.