Jaguar's E-PACE P300e AWD Plug-in Hybrid offers an interesting take on what a compact, fashion-conscious premium SUV can be. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
Jaguar's improved E-PACE gets the brand's PHEV Plug-in tech, this AWD P300e version able to cover up to 34 miles in all-electric silence. This confection certainly isn't inexpensive, but if you can't quite bring yourself to opt for a mid-sized EV and you want a compact premium-badged Crossover, this one might appeal.
The last thing the original version of the Jaguar E-PACE needed was the extra weight of a Plug-in hybrid system. In its early form, this car struggled along with steel D8 underpinnings so heavy that they made this compact SUV weightier and Jaguar's mid-sized F-PACE model in the class above. But things have changed. A mid-term facelift for the E-PACE, usually the kind of thing that would have given the car are no more than a minor wash and brush up, has in this case bought it completely fresh and much lighter PTA platform. Which can also enable it to take the three cylinder Plug-in PHEV powertrain we've already seen in JLR's Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque models. Creating the E-PACE P300e variant we're going to look at here.
This P300e Plug-in Hybrid E-PACE derivative uses the same powertrain found in smaller Land Rovers; a 309PS three cylinder 1.5-litre petrol unit mated to an 80kW Electric Rear Axle Drive motor powered by a 15kWh lithium-ion battery beneath the boot floor. The E-PACE PHEV is one of the quickest variants in the line-up, able to manage 62mph from rest in just 6.1s and reach 84mph on electric power alone. Above this speed, the electric motor is decoupled to reduce drag and the car reverts to front wheel drive. Top speed is 134mph. Obviously, if you use this model's reserves of performance too often, you'll very quickly deplete the all-electric driving range, WLTP-rated at 34 miles. Like other E-PACE variants, you should find on the road that this one has very much a Jaguar feel, aided by this revised version's new stiffer PTA platform. It's certainly far more of a driver's car than its Land Rover cousins thanks to things like 'Configurable Dynamics' technology that lets drivers personalise throttle, steering and transmission settings. There's a 'JaguarDrive Control' system that gives owners a choice of four selectable driving modes - 'Normal', 'Dynamic', 'ECO' and an 'AdSR' 'Adaptive Surface Response' mode option. The 'Active Driveline' AWD system can transfer traction to the rear axle in a fraction of a second should a lack of grip demand it.
Apart from the badgework and the addition of an extra flap for the charging point, there are no obviously giveaways that this P300e variant is a PHEV-engined E-PACE. Like the other models in the range, it benefits from this model's mid-term visual update. This has brought revised all-LED headlights with distinctive 'Double J' DRL signatures, these lamps flanking a restyled grille. Plus there's a revised lower aperture and smarter side fender vents at the front; and all-LED tail lamps and a smart mesh insert for the bumper at the back. As before, this little Jaguar is around 4.4m in length, so very similar in size to the Audi Q3 that many think will be its biggest rival. It's certainly a lower, sleeker design than that Ingolstadt model, with crisp surfacing, strong rear haunches and a sporty stance. Inside, the main change with this updated E-PACE is the adoption of Jaguar's latest 'Pivi Pro' infotainment system, which sits behind a now much larger integrated 11.4-inch curved-glass HD touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. Improvements here include quicker activation, the adoption of 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring, plus a whole range of embedded apps (like Spotify and Deezer) and the potential for over-the-air updates. Complementing this monitor is a 12.3-inch HD Interactive Driver Display, which replaces conventional dials in the instrument binnacle. As before, the cabin has more in common with Jaguar's F-TYPE sportscar than this little SUV's its F-PACE cousin: there's a 360-degree grab handle for the passenger on the side of the centre console, just as in the F-TYPE, though the dash itself is arguably more futuristic. As on the F-PACE, there's a sports stick shifter, with a large stowage area just in front incorporating room for a wireless charging mat. In the rear, there's reasonably comfortable space for a couple of adults. And the boot is a spacious 494-litres in size, thanks to the integral link suspension system chosen for the rear. That's also enabled the cargo floor to be low and the opening wide.
Prices start at around £46,000 and run up to just over £50,000. There are three trim levels - 'R-Dynamic S', 'R-Dynamic SE' and top 'R-Dynamic HSE'. To give you some perspective, an equivalently-trimmed D200 auto diesel mild hybrid MHEV version of this model would save you around £6,000, so you've really got to want the Plug-in tech. At least standard kit levels match this premium pricing. So you can expect to find the brand's latest 'Pivi Pro' infotainment system with its bigger 11.4-inch monitor and a 12.3-inch HD Interactive Driver Display screen in the instrument binnacle. Fresh options include a cabin ioniser, Jaguar's 'Clear Sight Interior Rear View Mirror' technology and the latest 3D Surround Camera tech. And of course the E-PACE features the very latest safety and driver assistance technologies. A stereo camera underpins the advanced Emergency Braking system, which also provides pedestrian detection, and supports the Lane Keep Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Speed Limiter and Driver Condition Monitor features. Front and Rear Parking Aids are standard on every variant. The camera also combines with the electric power assisted steering system to deliver a Blind Spot Assist function to help reduce the risk of sideswipe collisions on multi-lane roads. A Forward Traffic Detection system also warns drivers of approaching vehicles at junctions where visibility is restricted. Advanced active safety features include a pedestrian airbag, which deploys from beneath the trailing edge of the bonnet to enhance pedestrian protection in the event of a collision.
As we said in our driving experience section, the P300e petrol PHEV Plug-in hybrid offers a 34 mile electric driving range. The combined cycle fuel economy figure is 143.1mpg and the CO2 reading is 44.1mpg. Charging from a 7kW garage AC wallbox can be done from 0-80% in 1 hour and 24 minutes. DC fast-charging (up to 32kW) can reduce this 0-80% fill period to just half an hour. Charge from a domestic 3-pin plug via a Mode 2 cable and the process will take 6 hours and 42 minutes. Like all E-PACE variants, this one comes with a three year unlimited mileage warranty - which can be extended with a number of different plans that include a cover for an MOT test failure up to £750, as well as the normal cover for most electrical and mechanical systems. Service intervals are every two years/21,000 miles. Insurance ranges between group 40E and 42E.
You'd need to be pretty committed to the Plug-in hybrid cause to spend around £50,000 on an E-PACE with this PHEV P300e drivetrain. But if you are and find yourself attracted to the idea of a small, semi-electrified Jaguar SUV, you might quite like the idea of this one. After all, comparable premium rivals in this segment aren't much cheaper - and most of them are a little less engaging to drive than this Jag. You'd probably choose it though, to look good in the gym car park, ideally hooked up to a charger so that your friends will think it's an EV. A sign of the times? You might well think this car is just that.
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