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The Jaguar E-Pace is the cheapest way into Jaguar Land Rover’s SUV line-up, and this version is the cheapest way into an E-Pace.
Most versions of Jaguar’s premium family SUV come with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, but this 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel model is available with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. But hold your horses before you dismiss this variant as too weak and too much effort when changing gear, because it's actually proving to be the second-biggest seller behind the 2.0 D180 four-wheel-drive variant, according to Jaguar.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace on the road
This diesel engine is noticeably more hushed than the other, more powerful and more clattery versions. The 148bhp unit starts quietly and remains so, with town driving not requiring many harsh-sounding revs and motorway cruises similarly hushed.
Having a manual gearbox also helps keep the engine quiet, because revs are entirely in your control rather than in the hands of the sluggish and irritating automatic gearboxes in the other models. The six-speed manual isn’t particularly slick, feeling quite rubbery, but it’s less frustrating than the auto, which is very slow to engage and often leaves you hanging in the wrong gear.
There’s a noticeable lack of low-down shove compared with the other engines in the line-up, so you end up changing down quite frequently. If you’re after a quick burst of pace in a gear, there's less flexibility from low revs, too.
There’s certainly enough power to accelerate in town and comfortably to motorway speeds, but if you can afford the jump up to the 2.0 D180 model, you’ll be rewarded with a more flexible and relaxing engine. Indeed, according to Jaguar’s claimed figures, the 180 will reach 62mph from a standstill almost a second quicker than this 2.0 D150.
A real bonus for the 2.0 D150, though, is the fact that it promises the lowest running costs of the range. Its official average fuel economy, when fitted with a manual gearbox, is the highest you'll find in an E-Pace, while its CO2 emissions are the lowest.
In front-wheel-drive guise, this E-Pace doesn’t have quite the same assured handling as the four-wheel-drive alternatives. Turn in to a corner in this E-Pace and the steering is similarly sweet, but apply the accelerator and you can feel the steering wheel squirm, something you don’t find in the four-wheel-drive models. It isn't noticeable In regular driving, but hit a winding country road and this saps some of the enjoyment out of the experience.
The ride, meanwhile, remains the same as it is on the other versions; it's firm and there's a frustrating amount of vertical bounce on most surfaces at all speeds. We’d certainly recommend sticking to small wheels to improve matters.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace interior
Interior quality in the E-Pace is a bit of a mixed bag. For every soft-touch plastic you’ll find on the dashboard, there is a cheap-feeling hard bit of plastic not too far away. It’s quite a bland, uninspiring interior to sit in, but there’s plenty of room up front and a good amount of adjustability in the driver's seat and steering wheel.
The E-Pace trails the XC40 and X2 for rear passenger space and boot size, though. For a full rundown of the E-Pace’s interior, see our 16-point review.
Our test car was in S trim, which comes very well equipped. Leather seats, a 10.0in infotainment system, automatic lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are all listed in the standard equipment.
The E-Pace is also one of the safest cars in its class, with automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist coming as standard and a full five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
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