People buy SUVs for all manner of reasons, but one of them is that they’re looking for that high-driving, easygoing momentum that means you feel like you can go anywhere easily. It makes SUVs a good platform for diesel engines, even in this time of shrieking mobs chasing anyone who has the audacity to go against the current ‘lines to take’.
There are three diesels available for the new compact Jaguar, the D150, D180 and the one tested here, the more powerful D240 (there are two petrol engines as well, in the P250 and P300). If you want the low-down grunt that so often best accompanies an SUV, this is the one. The D240 has more torque, at 368lb ft, than any other E-Pace.
The result, linked to 236bhp, is a thunderous launch from rest, passing 62mph in just 7.4sec – that’s quick. Only the considerable 1851kg stops it being quicker still. But getting that power to the road is done with considerable efficiency, thanks to this model getting the British GKN Haldex four-wheel drive system you’ll also find the group’s Range Rover Evoque.
This makes normal driving feel safe even if the roads are streaming, but it also allows you to push the performance envelope that bit further when exiting corners. It feels a touch artificial, but you can’t argue with the results.
Jaguar E-Pace D240 R-Dynamic S AWD
Engine: 4cyls, 1999cc, turbocharged diesel
Power: 236bhp at 4000rpm
Torque: 368lb ft at 1500rpm
Gearbox: 9-spd auto
Kerb weight: 1851kg
Top speed: 139mph
Fuel economy: 45.6mpg CO2 162g/km
All of this comes with the standard E-Pace qualities of good looks, sharp handling and steering, and a handsome interior. You could argue next to the larger F-Pace the smaller sibling looks a bit blunt and truncated, but it’s still better looking than most SUVs in this sector.
And the cabin is delightful. Admittedly we’d tick a couple of boxes, for both the two-tone leather and the digital dials, but otherwise it’s a terrific place to be straight out of the box.
And in this form it’s surprisingly quick – you could certainly surprise the odd hot hatch, and you’d do more than surprise them if the road was wet. However, while the E-Pace D240 can do that, is that what it should be doing? Surely most people would want one because it’s a handsome and modern SUV with all the practicality and comfort you’d expect from family transport.
In which case, you’d get all that from the lesser-powered D180 and save yourself £4000 to boot. Unless you really want to go around giving minor shocks to hot hatch drivers, we’d stick with the D180 and spend the money saved so sensibly on something utterly frivolous.