New Jaguar E-Pace vs BMW X1

The E-Pace is designed to dominate the market for small premium SUVs, but the BMW X1 stands in its path. Is it a fair fight? We see how these two cars compare...

New Jaguar E-Pace vs BMW X1

The new Jaguar E-Pace is expected to become the brand's best-selling car – unsurprising, you might say. Having tested the water last year with the larger F-Pace, it seems only natural that Jaguar is now entering the largest market in Europe: small SUVs.

And yet it's far from guaranteed to be a champion here, because lining up to stop your wallet and the E-Pace ever meeting are some serious rivals, such as the Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA and the BMW X1. The X1 is perhaps the E-Pace's biggest threat.

The two appear closely matched on price – the X1 is currently costs from £28,460 while the E-Pace will cost you only £40 more. And, when we pitched the X1 against the Q3 and Range Rover Evoque in a recent group test, it's the X1 which came out on top.

So, how does the E-Pace compare to the X1? Let's compare both models.

New Jaguar E-Pace vs BMW X1 – styling

New Jaguar E-Pace vs BMW X1

The temptation to give the E-Pace exactly the same looks as its larger F-Pace sibling must have been strong, but Jaguar didn't want to imitate the 'Russian doll' tactics of its German rivals. Instead, it's given the E-Pace a fresh, bold look that's far more sporting and aggressive than the F-Pace.

There are clear influences from the F-Type sports car – including those swept-back front lights – while the E-Pace's hunkered-down shape reminds you that this is a car that's supposed to be fun as well as practical.

By contrast, the X1 is more about function. Its boxy, angular shape gives it a family-friendly look, and while there are a few stylistic touches – including BMW's overized kidney front grille – the X1's design is less futuristic than the E-Pace's.

New Jaguar E-Pace vs BMW X1 – engines and driving

New Jaguar E-Pace vs BMW X1

As you'd expect from cars in this class, both the E-Pace and X1 focus heavily on diesel engines. In the E-Pace, there's a trio of 2.0-litre diesels to choose from, with power ranging from 148bhp to 237bhp. Or, if you're keen on petrol power, you can choose from two turbocharged 2.0-litre petrols with either 247bhp or 296bhp. Gearbox choices include a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic, and all E-Pace's apart from the entry-level diesel model have four-wheel drive.

There's a similarly broad range of diesels to choose from in the X1, but it's the entry-level 148bhp 18d model that's our current favourite. That's not to say that the more powerful 187bhp 20d and 228bhp 25d models aren't good – they certainly are – but the 18d is our pick because you can have it with front-wheel drive and the lower running costs that come with that, whereas all other X1's are four-wheel drive. There's a sole choice if you're looking for a petrol X1: a 189bhp engine badged as the 20i.

An involving driving experience will be key to the success of the E-Pace – the F-Pace, as well as the XE and XF saloons, trade heavily on being involving driver's cars – which could be a big problem for BMW. That's because, until now, the X1 has been one of the more rewarding small SUVs to drive. Its precise steering and stiffer suspension means its fun to drive quickly, and while the ride can feel unsettled at times it's mitigated to a point by opting for smaller alloy wheels.

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