Despite Jaguar’s best efforts to keep it on trend, the F-Pace’s little cub, the E-Pace, has not struck the chord with local buyers the British marque was aiming for when it launched into the competitive luxury-crossover segment back in 2018. Based on the previous-gen Range Rover Evoque platform, Jaguar dove head-first into a segment already teeming with offerings from the German big three and failed to make significant inroads.
Three years later, the E-Pace continues to put up a fight with a comprehensive facelift and revisions to trim levels and cabin features. It’s time to find out if these alterations are enough to make a renewed case for the E-Pace. It now boasts the 300 Sport moniker, yet, our test unit is mechanically identical to the P300 HSE R-Dynamic AWD we tested in November 2018. Three years ago, its base price was R909 317 and it came fitted with R115 000 worth of optional extras.
This test unit is priced just a tad higher but with more optional extras to add to the overall sticker price. As standard, the 300 Sport comes with the all-new 11,4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with interactive driver display, keyless entry and dual-zone climate control. From an active safety point of view, it gains emergency-braking intervention, lane-keeping and blind-spot assist, 3D-surround camera with front and rear parking sensors, as well as rear-traffic monitoring for when you want to reverse out of a parking bay.
The little cub’s dynamics are honed courtesy of a new electronic differential, and JaguarDrive Control with adaptive damping and dynamics. Notable features added to our test unit include the Pixel LED headlamps (R13 000), a fixed panoramic roof (R15 800), seat heating and cooling for the front and rear (R23 300) and the Meridian surround sound system (R14 900). Aimed at consumers sensitive to dust, pollen and allergies – or those simply concerned about cabin air quality in general – a purification system (R5 500) can also be installed.
Adding further convenience to the E-Pace 300 Sport are three packages. The Driver Assist Package (R6 700) provides adaptive cruise control. The Convenience Package (R12 800) adds a power gesture tailgate, additional power sockets, load-space stowage rails with luggage retention kit and JLR’s improved and very cool smartwatch activity key. There’s even something called the Cold Climate package (R9 800) which brings with it a heated windscreen and steering wheel to ward off those bitterly cold winters. If your budget allows, the E-Pace can be configured into a truly unique one-of-a-kind compact SUV that’ll fulfil any requirement imaginable.
The majority of the attention lavished on this facelift has gone towards the cabin, which has a refined and futuristic feel. These changes include a chunky gear selector which is easier to operate than the previous pistol grip. The touch-sensitive climate control system with two analogue dials on either end of the centre stack is easier to use than the previous all-analogue configuration and the overall responsiveness is impressive, too.
The highlight of the cabin is the aforementioned touchscreen and new steering wheel, which includes several touch-sensitive buttons like the climate control switches. Running the Pivi Plus operating system, the screen is clear, concise and pleasant on the eye, and the responsiveness to touch inputs is on par with what’s already out there.
While conclusive, users will take some time to become familiar with the icon layout. Contrary to this is a slight over-sensitivity of the buttons on the steering wheel that require care and attention when operating, and taking your eye off the road for a split second or two. Accidental inputs are common when you first climb behind the wheel but once you’re acclimatised, things do improve.
As noted, the E-Pace 300 Sport boasts the same turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder engine found in the model previously tested.
This produces 221 kW and 400 N.m of torque to all four wheels via a nine-speed ZF torque converter. On paper, these figures are encouraging but when you factor in its mass of 1 924 kg (as measured on our scales), it’s not as light on its feet as we were hoping for.
The updated E-Pace brings a dynamic and refined presence thanks to refreshed styling and additional specification both inside and out. As a lifestyle conveyance, it’s one of the most desirable in its segment thanks to its luxury, comfort and how it breaks the cookie-cutter mould of the Germans. From a dynamic point of view – however, hamstrung by its hefty kerb weight – the little cub left us wanting more. Jaguar Land Rover has pledged that all its cars will be electrified by 2025, so, perhaps the hybrid-powered P300e offering 227 kW and 540 N.m of torque, will be the smart future-proof option. Only time will tell. Still, tracking the uptake of dual energy E-Paces locally in the lead up to the firm’s 2025 deadline will be intriguing to watch.
Price: R1 057 940
0-100 km/h: 7,49 seconds
Top speed: 241 km/h
Power: 221 kW
Torque: 400 N.m
CAR fuel index: 9,24 L/100 km
CO2: 175 g/km