Kittens are cute, right? Playful, irresistible, fun-loving bundles of joy. A lot like the kitten in Jaguar’s sport-ute range, the lovable E-PACE. It’s one of the most purrfect feisty felines out there.
While this cute, compact crossover has been around since 2017, I’d wager good money that you’ve never set eyes on one frolicking along our byways and highways.
How come? Jaguar kinda messed up.
Take the financial side. Walk into a Jaguar showroom and the friendly salesperson will tell you can lease a shiny new E-PACE for $399 a month for 36 months, with $3,995 at signing.
Sounds like a good deal. That’s until you look around the showroom and see that for just another $30 a month you could drive off in the E-PACE’s big brother, the F-PACE. More space inside, more flexibility, more SUV. And for the same 36 month/$3,995 at signing plan.
Want to pay cash? The base price of an E-PACE kicks off at $39,995, compared to $45,200 for the F-PACE. For just over $5,000, you’re getting a lot more Jag.
Then there’s that E-PACE name. Doesn’t ‘E’ stand for Electric? Not quite. In Jaguar’s world, electric-power has an ‘I’ in front, as in the impressive, all-electric I-PACE. Confused? Me too.
Which is all hugely sad, considering the baby ‘E’ is a terrific crossover that’s a lot more fun to drive that its key competitors, BMW’s X1, Audi’s Q3, the Volvo XC40, Mercedes GLA, Infiniti QX30 and Cadillac’s XT4.
And just look at the thing. It’s so cute and cuddly you want to wrap it in your arms and scratch it under the chin spoiler.
Yes, it does look like a shrunken F-PACE, but the stubbier overall length – it’s 13 inches shorter and 7 inches narrower than an ‘F’ – gives it a smooth, rounded, more muscley look.
Gaze at wrestler John Cena’s bulging, sculpted bicep in profile and you’ll see the uncanny resemblance.
Beneath that adorable facade, the built-in-Austria ‘E’ rides on a similar platform to the latest Range Rover Evoque, and uses the same line-up of punchy 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines.
With the base engine powering the entry E-PACE P250 you get 246 horsepower. Step up to the P300 engine, and you’re treated to 296 horseys. And every ‘E’ comes with all-wheel drive as standard as well as a 9-speed automatic transmission.
We’re slumming it with the top-of-the-line E-PACE R-Dynamic HSE model, base price $54,095, but a fairly eye-watering $62,090 super-nicely loaded.
With almost 300-hp, the R-Dynamic feels more like a cheetah than a Jaguar kitten. Stand on the gas and it’ll leap from standstill to 60mph in a lively 6.1 seconds.
And through the curves, it definitely puts the ‘sport’ in sport-utility, courtesy of its surgically-precise steering, nimble, dynamic, agile handling, and superglue-like grip.
Inside, it’s not as stylish as a Volvo XC40, and not as high on quality as the Audi Q3. But there’s decent room for five, and with the back row seats folded, there’s over 52 cubic feet of luggage space.
If all this spikes your interest, you might want to check-out the just launched E-PACE Checkered Flag Edition based on the 246-hp P250.
It comes with plenty of sporty features, like R-Dynamic front and rear bumpers, twin exhaust tips, black trim instead of chrome, a set of 19-inch dark gray alloys, a panoramic roof, and R-Dynamic steering wheel. It’s decent value at $47,395.
Price however, is arguably the biggest challenge for the E-PACE, especially as the bigger F-PACE and truly excellent 2020 Range Rover Evoque are so close dollar-wise.
But if you dare to be different, and are looking to adopt an adorable kitten, Jaguar’s sporty E-PACE could have your name on its collar.