2021 Jaguar E-Pace P300e | PH Review

New platform, new cabin and a new three-pot hybrid revive Jaguar's smallest SUV

By Sam Sheehan / Wednesday, March 10, 2021 / Loading comments

Pretty much no stone has been left unturned in the refreshing of Jaguar’s E-Pace for 2021. For once 'refresh' is a drastic understatement: with a new platform, new cabin architecture and a new engine powering this P300e variant – not to mention a tweaked exterior design – it is a mid-life update of Trigger’s Broom magnitude. We know the underlying Premium Transverse Architecture from the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque, and it is the primary reason for the E-Pace's evolutionary leap forward.

This includes the introduction of JLR's plug-in hybrid three-pot, which brings with it some pretty big numbers. A peak of 309hp, 141mpg of WLTP-graded economy and 34 miles of all-electric range are said to be possible in the P300e. The powertrain comprises a 1.5-litre triple that features a belt-integrated starter generator for 200hp and 207lb ft of torque at the front axle alone, with 109hp, 192lb ft delivered to the back wheels by the electric motor that’s mounted between them. Power for that is provided by a 15kWh battery pack, placed low and under the rear seats, with a fast charge to 80 per cent time (via a 32kW DC plug or greater) of just 30 minutes. With a 7kW charger it’s 1 hour 24 mins.

It goes without saying that this combination ought to appeal to hybrid-besotted buyers, not to mention fleet managers looking to trim overall CO2. Jaguar quotes 44g/km, along with a claimed 6.5 second 0-62mph time, which given that this is a 2,173kg SUV, highlights how effective the combined hybrid setup really is. Jaguar’s newer platform is obviously built to make a fair fist of concealing the troublesome mass, as well as enabling the fitment of its new cabin architecture, including the HD screens and tactile controls that were first introduced at the start of ‘21 by the XF and F-Pace.

The new interior isn’t a complete overhaul like it was in those cars, however, rather a mixing of new technology with a familiar layout. That means you get the curved 11.4-inch central touchscreen of Pivi Pro, wireless charging (and wireless Apple Carplay) and the new gear selector, as well as Jag’s 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, all incorporated into the existing interior design. No question it’s a big lift, and the new materials ensure there’s plushness to go with the technical clout. Ergonomically and operationally, it’s hard to fault, although there are some harder touch plastics still to be found in places where the higher-rank models are leather clad.

The interior gets JLR’s air ionisation filtration system as standard, along with more sound proofing, and structurally rigidity is significantly better than in its venerable predecessor. And you really do notice the combined effect: the climate system works quickly, the electrified powertrain is quiet and effortless, and the car rides with a newfound suppleness. There’s a heightened sense of engineering quality around you, which continues even when the new three-cylinder motor comes online, seamlessly adding its contribution to the all-electric thrust. 

While it starts by default in EV mode (so long as there’s battery power), you can leave the car to its own devices in hybrid, where it remains surprisingly frugal thanks to the efficiency of the three-pot engine and its mild-hybrid system, which operates separately to the plug-charged battery hardware at the back. The third powerplant mode focuses on preserving battery power, so the engine and regenerative tech are called upon to slowly increase the energy percentage. It does actually work – you can see the number rising as you motor along – so long journeys need not involve leapfrogging between motorway charge stations. But obviously those wanting the ideal mix of economy and performance will need to routinely plug their E-Pace into the mains to keep the battery topped up.

The reward for doing that is elastic, brisk performance that builds as the revs pile on, with the electric motor’s instantaneous shove surpassed by a growing power supply from an engine that pulls cleanly to its 6,100rpm redline. That means there’s reward in working it, although thanks to a combined peak of 398lb ft of torque, you can revel in the effortlessness as well. The eight-speed auto is well matched to the unit, leaning on that thick slab of torque by default, but quickly dropping back down a cog if you press the kick down or pull the left shift paddle. The engine makes a nice, bassy three-pot sound, too, and there’s a barely audible electric whine to add to the low-decibel orchestra, so you’re well aware of the tech onboard.

Using JLR’s PTA base has positively transformed the way the E-Pace rides and handles. The passive setup of our test car provided sufficient vertical suppleness to handle urban speed humps and big road compressions, as well as good body control when you push on. While the front end is reactive and the steering weight well judged, there’s little in the way of feel from the wheel itself, yet the chassis feels so predictable that you can quickly build the pace and hammer along a route in confidence. Unsurprisingly, given the respective peak power outputs of the axles, the car feels more like a front-drive machine with endless traction. That’s obviously no bad thing in a mid-sized SUV with economy its core concern, but it does mean the E-Pace can’t quite claim to be a baby F-Pace as far as its handling is concerned.

In truth, though, the P300e never attempts to be a sports SUV – it wants to seem like a more rounded offering. It seems well-judged in this regard, and while it’s true that the introduction of an electric-powered rear axle does rob the boot of some underfloor space (you get a just-about competitive 1,386 litres with the seats down), there’s no immediate downside to having the arrangement in your revamped E-Pace. Thanks to the platform's ground-up hybrid compatibility, the car does well to mask the system’s weight; even the brakes, which mix the regenerative tech’s resistance with the stopping power of pad-to-disc work, feel natural and easy to modulate. It seems like a significant achievement for such a complicated hybrid, and evidence of the technical quality Jaguar has summoned up. 

Suffice to say the updates applied to the E-Pace P300e have each taken it forward by some margin and make for a more interesting car than the equivalent Audi Q5 and BMW X3. Handily, it’s also right up there with the best of them when it comes to the on-paper statistics, with arguably the P300e’s closest rival also hailing from JLR. Land Rover’s technically related plug-in Evoque provides the same on-paper merits with added badge clout, although thanks to that renewed interior, the Jaguar no longer feels like a lesser offering. That’s certainly illustrated in the P300e’s price, with the base R-Dynamic S available from £45,995 and the top-grade HSE model costing from £50,290. Those are big numbers for a baby SUV, but the car in question now goes a long way to justifying them. 


SPECIFICATION | JAGUAR E-PACE P300E R-DYNAMIC S

Engine: 1,498cc inline-three, turbocharged, petrol, plus belt-driven starter generator and battery-driven electric motor
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],500rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],600-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 134mph
Weight: 2,173kg (EU unladen)
MPG: 141 (combined, WLTP)
CO2: 44g/km
Price: £45,995

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