Volvo XC40 vs Jaguar E-Pace

The compact SUV landscape has two new warriors. But which one do we prefer? The answer might surprise you!

For the last few years, luxury compact SUV conversations were dominated by the Germans, and rightly so. BMW’s X Range has great dynamics, a typically BMW interior and is spacious. The Audi range, bar the Q2 makes sense with regard to pricing, and the styling of those Audis is just MWAH!

But lately, Jaguar has started laying claim to the SUV space by taking the World Car of the Year award with the F-Pace.  Meanwhile Volvo has produced the critically acclaimed XC90.

Now whether serendipitously or planned, both manufacturers have compact SUV’s arriving on SA’s shores at the very same time.  But which is better? I drive a version of each to find out which one I prefer and take a very non-scientific look at which one I’d love to use for my imaginary school run.

On the Road

Jaguars hold a very special place in my heart. My first proper event as a journalist was for the Jaguar Simola Hill Climb and I drove the new XE at the time.  So if anything I might be a bit biased towards the Jag! But I’m not.  The steering disappoints and it’s almost as if the Jag tries too hard to be dynamically superior, even when it’s not.  The chassis feels strained at the limit yet the car seems to asked to be pushed to that point.  It’s a peculiar problem to have for a car of this ilk. The XC40, on the other hand, has featherlight steering and although very fast in a straight line in T5 form, XC40 kind of insists that it doesn’t like to be rushed. An opposing sensation to the Jaguar.  On the road, although the Jaguars limits might be higher, it’s just not as comfortable there.  And for me, a car in this class should excel at the school run,  rather than lap times it’s way there.  Round one? XC40.

Interior Trim and Features

Inside the XC40 is all ergonomics, borrowing award-winning interior bits from the bigger version, all the while employing interesting new things such as scratch resistant door inners, which means a laptop can now actually be stowed in the door without much fuss. The Jaguars interior feels as luxurious as any Jaguar does and again, it too borrows switchgear from its tried and tested siblings.  The sensational Bowers and Wilkins audio is NOT available for the XC40 so it’s a wash in that area with both cars providing decent in-car entertainment. The Jags system is slightly more intuitive though. The XC40 has the option of autonomous driving and because of the lower weight, it seems that the system works even better in this car than in the XC90 or S90.  The Jaguar has the lane keep assist and although abrupt it can and probably will save many lives in the coming years.  Again, the XC40 pips the Jaguar, but only just thanks to the very good autonomous driving system.

Looks and Design

The XC40 looks fresh and sharp but after a few days the looks do seem to wear off and I was told by a friend it reminds them of an unnamed entry-level hatchback, with its two-tone roof and candy red paint job. Not the best comparison for a car in this price range. The Jaguar is one stylish little kitty and although it kind of looks like a miniaturised F-Pace, that isn’t exactly an insult. The E-Pace is a very attractive car and easily takes the win in this very subjective category.


Depreciation aside, the XC40 is the better car.  But don’t take my word for it, go test drive both of these and see for yourself.  But for my money, I could live with those strange looks and drive away with the Volvo XC40.

Road Tests

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