Set to challenge the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, and Infiniti QX30 when it goes on sale in the United States in January 2018, the Jaguar E-Pace will be marketed with standard all-wheel drive, a nine-speed automatic, and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplants generating either 246 or 296 horsepower.
Globally, the E-Pace will quickly become Jaguar’s best-selling model. In the United States, Jaguar expects the E-Pace to, at the very least, sell just as often as the larger F-Pace, which has generated 19,575 U.S. sales for the previously struggling Jaguar brand since going on sale in May 2016.
The E-Pace rides on the Range Rover Evoque’s platform. Although Jaguar offers U.S. customers a diesel option in the XE, XF, and F-Pace, there are no diesel plans for the E-Pace in the U.S. The E-Pace is assembled in China but alsoÂ by Magna Steyr in Austria â€” U.S.-bound E-Paces will come from Austria.
While the E-Pace’s tidy dimensions â€” it’s more than a foot shorter than the F-Pace â€” make the smallest Jaguar an apparent direct rival for the X1, Q3, and GLA, Jaguar sees the E-Pace is a more affordable alternative to the Porsche Macan. Indeed, the E-Pace is more costly than the other subcompact crossovers, which start at $34,745 (X1), $33,850 (Q3), and $34,395 (GLA).
In addition to standard all-wheel drive, however, the Jaguar E-Pace also offers measurably more standard horsepower than those rivals.Unlike other models in Jaguar’s current lineup, the E-Pace is front-wheel-drive-based. (Stop muttering X-Type under your breath!) Jaguar claims to have worked hard to limit the appearance of excessive front overhang. Rather than throwing the F-Pace in the dryer, the E-Pace carries a predictablyÂ similar crossover silhouette but wears a front end that more closely resembles the F-Type, Jaguar’s popular sports car.
Inside, the E-Pace isn’t chock full of olde-worlde British cues â€” there’s actually no wood to speak of. Jaguar recognizes the need to appeal to buyers who wouldn’t traditionally purchase a Jaguar. The E-Pace is expected to generate 80 percent of its sales with buyers new to the brand. All E-Paces will offer a 10-inch touchscreen; a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is optional.
With the 2.0T generating 246 horsepower, Jaguar’s all-wheel-drive system is a conventionalÂ affair, though JaguarDrive Control is standard in all E-Paces, allowing drivers to select Normal, Dynamic, Eco, and Rain/Ice/Snow, each of which alters numerous powertrain settings. Jaguar says the F-Pace’s standard AWD system “can send almost all of the engine’s power to the front or the rear if either axle loses traction.”With the 296-horsepower engine, however, Jaguar installs Active Driveline all-wheel drive. Jaguar says this system disengages AWD in normal driving, eliminating drive to the rear wheels, but the system can re-engage in 300 milliseconds. 100 percent of the rear axle’s torque, meanwhile, can be sent to either rear wheel. In Rain/Ice/Snow and Dynamic modes, the AWD system doesn’t disengage.
Apart from a $53,550 First Edition with the standard output, 2018 E-Paces start at $39,595, rise to $42,495 in S trim, and jump to $45,295 for the E-Pace SE. With 296 horsepower, the R-Dynamic models are priced from $48,245, $51,045, and $54,095 in S, SE, and HSE trims.
Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor ofÂ GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.