I was offered to test the E-Pace, Jaguar's smallest SUV, and see how good a luxury SUV could be as a BabyDrive. My Dad always got excited about his father's Jag when I was a child so I was eager to get in one and see what all the fuss is about!
I was relieved to find I was given an E-Pace with a conservative black interior with blue highlights in the stitching. Phew… earlier in the year I tested the Jaguar F-Pace which had a bright red leather interior that was just too much for a sleep deprived and overstimulated mum!!
Happy in my surroundings and comfortable in my seat I found the E-Pace a pleasant drive. A lot of the styling inside and out is from the Jaguar F-Type sports car so you do get some of those features.
In the back, the seats are comfortable and deceptively spacious and I found I could fit three child seats in there! I wasn't expecting it at all! I wouldn't have fitted three big forward-facing child seats alongside each other but this combination did work. With just two child seats installed in the outer seats then it was less crowded with a nice amount of space around them.
There are three top tethers in the seat backs that are easily accessible through the boot and within clearly labelled, plastic guides. The ISOFix points are in the two outer rear seats, they are within plastic guides and I found the plastic guides made them a bit tricky to connect to.
Although the E-Pace is a small SUV, a 180cm passenger could just sit in front of a rear-facing child seat installed in the back.
Most of the storage was practical in the E-Pace. There are two good size cup holders in the front and back that will hold re-usable and disposable coffee cups and large refillable water bottles fit well in them too, whereas the door bins in both the front and back don't offer anywhere practical to put a large refillable water bottle as anything you put in slides about in them. There is a good central console storage box and glove box and the central seatback has a fold-down armrest with a phone tray as well as two cup holders. There are two map pockets but they are net, so anything you put in them can be seen and they will go baggy after a while too.
I was surprised by the boot of the E-Pace too! From empty it held eleven shopping bags, that's one more than both the Audi Q2 and the BMW X2. It held all three Mountain Buggy strollers and the Britax tandem stroller with differing amounts of shopping bags alongside them. The parcel shelf felt a bit basic and cheap for a luxury SUV, like it was made of cardboard.
The E-Pace media system does look and feel modern, it has a great crisp and clear large screen with modern graphics but it doesn't have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The media system is easy to navigate and the camera has a very good quality crisp, clear image. I found the sensors could be turned down slightly but not muted.
I found the E-Pace was nippy and responsive and fun to drive, the accelerator pedal was a bit sensitive though and even after a week I didn't remember to press the trigger button on the back of the gear lever every time I wanted to change gear. In most other cars you'd only press something to select reverse. A reminder does come up on the screen in front of the steering wheel as a reminder so Jaguar must have pre-empted this might be a problem!
I also found the silver surface beneath the gear lever reflected the bright sunshine up into my face while I was driving and I found it really offputting and so I either put my hand or my cardi over it while driving.
The Jaguar E-Pace scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017 and has six airbags as standard.