2018 Jaguar E-Pace first drive review: small crossover with big ideas Page 2

If looks could thrill

Back in the afternoon light, the E-Pace looks great. In this Corsican sun, everything does.

The Jaguar can’t hide its proportions and skeleton, which it shares with others in the family. Jaguar’s designers shrink-wrapped the lines of the F-Pace around a smaller 173-inch length with moderate success. The overhangs on the E-Pace are longer and more pronounced, with more space between the wheels and the wheel arches than its bigger brother, the F-Pace. Designers mitigated 6 inches of extra nose with visual distractions and crash tech, to good effect.

Although the wheel-to-front-axle length is identical to the Evoque and Discovery Sport, the E-Pace looks longer thanks to its forward-sloping windshield, plus squinting headlights that don’t reach too far toward the wheel arches.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

The E-Pace is wider than competitors, which according to Jaguar are the Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1. The Jag is a smidge bigger than both—perhaps a class larger—and we see a natural competitor in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio not only in performance, but also in achingly beautiful shapes translated into a crossover.

The E-Pace’s window lines reach up toward a gently arching roof that drops gracefully toward the rear end. The window line ends where the rear haunches start. Strictly speaking, these curves are wildly unnecessary. In France, they’re not only appreciated, but also celebrated. Around back, there’s a squat shape punctuated by two rear exhausts that burble a raspy note.

Inside, the E-Pace leaves more on the table than the F-Pace. Even in top trims, the E-Pace’s roots as an entry-level luxury crossover show through: the stitching on the dash is unconvincing and the knobs, switches, and center console have a temporal feel. If, five years from now, Jaguar is using the same materials for its cars, I will eat my paycheck.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

2018 Jaguar E-Pace

Back to front

It’s all part of a bigger story.

Jaguar needs the E-Pace to assert itself against competitors that have a 10-year head start with crossovers. The plot is already developed.

Jaguar's story is one of a driver-first compact luxury crossover that it largely delivers on. The lithe little utility vehicle’s hardware, looks, and stance view roads as conquerable terrain, but its daily reality is submissive and affordable starting under $40,000—and irresistibly good-looking.

For me, and mankind before me, falling in love in France is easy.

Jaguar provided travel and lodging to Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand report.

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