Jaguar E-Pace long-term test

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

2021 Jaguar E-Pace long-term header

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

Why it’s here To see whether one premium family SUV can combine fun, comfort and practicality

Needs to Work hard on weekdays, entertain on Saturdays and Sundays, and feel indulgent all the time

Mileage 7600 List price £42,075 Target Price £40,705 Price as tested £47,260 Test economy 40.7mpg Running costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel (£719) Trade-in value now £39,204 Dealer price now £44,357 Private price now £39,428 

20 October 2021 – All play and little work makes Jag a good toy

I chose my Jaguar E-Pace because, after a run of SUVs that put practicality ahead of pleasure, I fancied switching those two qualities around. I still wanted an SUV for the high-riding visibility and rough-road capabilities they tend to bring, but I also wanted it to indulge me on every journey, with scope to let its hair down and entertain me on twisty roads.

Happily, it did rather well when it came to the pleasure aspect of driving, making most journeys home from photography sessions something to relish. This is one big(ish) cat that does more than just collect admiring glances.

Jaguar E-Pace 2021 long-term goodbye

I wasn’t alone in enjoying it. When it took my wife, a friend and I away for a day’s archery (one participates in such noble sports when one drives a Jaguar), the stylish, opulent E-Pace somehow made it just that bit more of an event. What’s more, the 40/20/40 split rear seat enabled it to swallow longbows and quivers of arrows for the three of us, together with a monster coolbox, while still providing space for an adult archer in each of the back seats. 

The car proved deceptively spacious, too. Despite its curvaceous roofline, only the very tallest folk will feel cramped, although things will be tight if a third adult sits in the middle rear seat. My car’s panoramic sunroof makes a big difference for back-seat passengers – without it flooding the interior with light, the upswept windowline and narrow side glass might cause claustrophobia to set in.

Jaguar E-Pace 2021 long-term archery bootful

Frustratingly, the E-Pace could have been even better if it weren't marred by a few details. One example is the parcel shelf. Most of the time I’ve been driving the car without the shelf in place. One reason for this is that it allows me to pile the boot higher so I can take particularly bulky photographic gear on shoots without putting it on the back seat.

There's a second reason, though – the shelf doesn’t rise out of the way when the tailgate is opened. I find that a baffling oversight. The tailgate itself opens very wide, but with the parcel shelf in place you’re left with an annoyingly narrow slot to load through. While you can lift up the shelf, that leaves you with only one free hand to do the loading.

Jaguar E-Pace 2021 long-term parcel shelf

The D200 diesel engine is impressively grunty (a 7.9sec 0-60 sprint takes the stress out of rejoining fast roads after fuel stops), but it’s not the smoothest when pulling away. There's a noticeable surge that has all on board nodding their heads involuntarily. Speaking of fuel stops, I would have liked to have made fewer of them (I averaged 41mpg).

If these flaws could be overcome, I’d certainly consider having another E-Pace, and I’d add a similar list of options next time around. The technology pack was worth its £1220 price for  the head-up display, wireless phone-charging and ClearSight rear-view mirror alone (the clever ClearSight device provided me a clear view behind even when the boot was loaded to the ceiling). As I’ve mentioned, the panoramic roof (£990) is a must.

Jaguar E-Pace 2021 long-term puddle lights

However, rather than adding the (very attractive) 20in alloy wheels, I’d opt for smaller ones in the hope of a bit more cushioning over bumps. I wouldn't say the ride was uncomfortable, but I didn't find it as indulgent as the car’s leather-lined interior.

I can’t help thinking that some of those options should be standard on such a pricey car, though, especially when you won’t always recoup their full cost when it's time to trade it in. Saying that, after 7600 miles, mine has held on to its value pretty strongly. All told, as an SUV that was suited to high days and holidays but wasn’t allergic to hard work, my E-Pace worked out quite well.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Also consider