Jaguar E-Pace long-term test: report 1

Our chief photographer wanted an SUV that was frugal and fun to drive, yet still practical enough to swallow all his gear. Will the Jaguar E-Pace fit the bill?...

2021 Jaguar e-Pace long-term hello pic

The car Jaguar E-Pace D200 R-Dynamic SE Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer

Why it’s here To see whether fun, comfort and practicality need be mutually exclusive in a premium family SUV

Needs to Work hard on weekdays, entertain on Saturday and Sunday, and feel indulgent all the time

Mileage 1208 List price £42,250 Target Price £39,841 Price as tested £47,260 Test economy 41.6mpg Official economy 42.0mpg Options fitted Technology Pack (£1220), fixed panoramic roof (£990), metallic paint (£670), 20in alloy wheels (£620), Meridian sound system (£600), 13-pin wiring kit (£290), privacy glass (£370), air purification system (£320), heated steering wheel (£205)

30 July 2021 – The cat gets the cream

Work hard, play hard. Strikes me that’s a good motto to live by in these trying times. But the thing is, I’ve come to realise that I’ve not always been as hot on 'seizing the day' or 'making every minute count' – another sage pair of mantras – when it comes to getting the most out of my leisure time, and I reckon my choice of car has been partly to blame. With my new Jaguar E-Pace, though, I seek to change all that.

2021 Jaguar E-Pace long-termer front tracking

You see, I’ve been putting work first when choosing a car, prioritising practicality above all else. But while such diligence probably makes my job as What Car?'s chief photographer a bit easier, I often find myself yearning for something with a little more sparkle at the weekend, when I don't need to haul all my kit around. So, I thought I’d turn things around; the E-Pace is still an SUV, but it places more emphasis on Sport and less on Utility than cars I’ve run in the past.

It’s still very much a practical vehicle, though, and with four-wheel drive and a stout diesel engine, it should have what it takes to get me and my photography kit to far-flung locations in all weathers, even if the Tarmac peters out before journey’s end. I’ve opted for the D200, What Car?’s favourite E-Pace engine, and for R-Dynamic SE trim to emphasise the car’s sporting appeal.

2021 Jaguar E-Pace long-termer panoramic roof

I’ve also picked a few choice extras that support my love of luxury. These include a panoramic glass roof (£990) to bathe the interior in filtered sunlight, a heated steering wheel (£205) to soothe my frosty fingers on cold shoots, and privacy glass (£370) to conceal any photographic cargo that might overflow onto the rear seats. The Technology Pack, which includes wireless phone charging, a phone signal booster (handy on my more remote shoots), a head-up display and an interactive driver display, set me back a further £1220, and I also ticked the box for the Meridian sound system (£600) to make the most of my music.

And the 20in diamond-turned alloy wheels at £620? Well, I just thought they looked good, the same being the case with the Firenze Red metallic paint at £670. Honestly, to choose this kind of car and not go the whole hog when it came to making it mine would have defeated the point. Yes, the £47,260 total price is a big number, but I've not one jot of buyer’s remorse. At least, not yet.

2021 Jaguar E-Pace long-termer head rests

For starters, I think my E-Pace looks terrific. When I’m on a shoot, it’s all I can do to prevent my gaze from wandering back to it and away from the car I’m supposed to be snapping; it lurks smugly in the background, glowing in the sunshine, looking gorgeous. And settling into the E-Pace really does feel terribly indulgent at the end of a day’s work, from the leaping Jaguars embossed into the head restraints to the suede that wraps the gear selector. 

I’m hoping, then, that real life doesn’t get in the way of my having a good time. I’ve had similarly expensive cars before, but the money has generally paid for sheer acreage of metal rather than glamorous appointments. Having got used to rather bigger SUVs, with rather bigger boots, I accept that I’ll have to use all my cunning to make my awkwardly shaped photography gear slot into place in the E-Pace's boot, but the pay-off should be the kind of driver fulfilment that bulkier, heavier SUVs usually can’t offer.

2021 Jaguar E-Pace long-termer grille detail

So far, then, the E-Pace and I are on cloud nine, but I’ll focus on more down-to-earth factors next time. An upcoming camping trip will be quite a test, both for the car and myself.

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