Can the Jaguar E-Pace Stand Out in the Crowded Crossover Market?

The zippier cousin to Jaguar's first crossover utility vehicle is ready for the city.

January 4, 2018 5:00 am
Jaguar E-Pace (Jaguar Land Rover)
Jaguar E-Pace (Jaguar Land Rover)

There are a two key numbers that will define the success of the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace. Neither has anything to do with engine size, horsepower or torque.

The first and most important must be 38,600 – the total bills found in the stack of dollars that puts the key fob to this new compact crossover into a driver’s hand. The second isn’t as clearly defined yet, but it’s the piles of these things Jaguar is bound to sell this coming year.

The E-Pace comes to the Jaguar lineup with high expectations and a lot of pressure to live up to its big sister, the F-Pace. Debuting in 2016, the F-Pace was Jaguar’s first crossover, and Coventry’s favorite automaker got it right. After a media drive event out in Colorado, the first reactions from much of the press were so strong that this reporter predicted the F-Pace would rake in annual “best of” awards and quickly become a star in Jag’s line.

Jaguar E-Pace (Jaguar Land Rover)

A few month’s later, the F-Pace took home 2017 World Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show. And, by the time the model year ended, the crossover was Jaguar’s fastest seller in its history. I still think I should have won a turkey or something for my predictions, but I had to settle for driving the F-Pace over the Continental Divide.

It was no surprise the F-Pace did so well, driving Jaguar’s overall international sales up more than 80%. The crossover market is the fastest growing, most competitive automotive segment in the industry — pushing sedans down a peg or two. Jaguar was a little late coming to that party, even while sister division Range Rover did well over the years with its Evoque. Now that it’s in the game, Jaguar aimed the F-Pace squarely across the bow of its rivals in the mid-range luxury market such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus.

This new E-Pace takes the concept from the Jag crossover one tick above it in the alphabet and trims a little off the overall package. The result is a vehicle that shares the same winning styling and feel of the award-dominating F-Pace in a smaller wrapper and with a more accessible price.

The midsize crossover looked great out of the blocks. Designed by JLR’s legendary Ian Callum, the F-Pace avoided the boxy look of many similar sized vehicles with rounded lines, the familiar understated Jag grille and an understated back end. Add that slick feline badge, and buyers had a shot at buying a first-of-its-kind vehicle that stood out from the rivals.

Both crossovers are five seaters and employ the same two liter, turbocharged, four cylinder engine — though the F-Pace squeezes out an extra horse (247 horsepower over 246). The E-Pace offers a higher top speed than the F-Pace (143 mph to 135), while the F-Pace manages a better 0-60 time (6.4 seconds to 6.6). The point is the performance specs between the two models are strikingly similar — making the key difference a matter of size.

Jaguar E-Pace (Jaguar Land Rover)

The E-Pace drops almost eight inches from the F-Pace’s wheel base (113.2  down to105.6) and three inches from the width (85.6 to 82.2). The lines and overall design are essentially the same, but Jaguar built the E-Pace for that essential urban market where a smaller crossover lives more comfortably.

The driving experience for the E-Pace is beautifully on the rails, with a smoothness and an ease of acceleration it shares with the F-Pace. The compact crossover shares the outstanding, four-wheel independent suspension that runs through the entire Jaguar line.

The most important E-Pace factor in its favor is the price. The F-Pace has a base MSRP of $42,065, with features and trim levels capable of driving the price up closer to $60,000. The shaved down E-Pace starts at $38,600 and offers younger or less well-heeled buyers that extra shot at buying into the Jaguar brand. While the E-Pace might draw a few potential sales away from the F-Pace or Evoque, it’ll make a bigger dent in the numbers for the buy-in level crossovers coming out of Germany and Japan.

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