Do not be confused by the name – E-Pace does not mean electric. That label is saved for the firm’s I-Pace.
In this case, Jaguar has slid down the alphabet, which gives enough of a clue that the E-Pace is the F Pace’s smaller sibling. It is really rather good.
It is going head-on against Audi’s Q3, BMW’s X1 and Merc’s GLA – and there are a few advantages in being late to the party.
Inspired by the F-Pace, this little Jag takes sister brand Land Rover’s Evoque platform and gives a serious lesson in space and packaging. For its size, this model has a lot to offer.
Handling is accurate and responsive, not what you would expect from an SUV. It is much more car-like in its behaviour, which makes it more enjoyable to drive.
It also feels a lot quicker and nimbler than the 8.6-second, on-paper sprint suggests. This model gets the mid-power 180hp D180 four-pot Ingenium, two-litre diesel engine – buyers can choose either D150 and D240, or consider petrol-powered models with up to 300hp.
With all-wheel drive and a ninespeed automatic transmission, this one is best left to get on with it, rather than you interfere with driving modes and flappy paddles.
As you would expect, it is a smooth and polished performer if left to its own devices.
Being an R-Dynamic S model, our test car sits fairly high in the range and is packed with kit. There are some questionable options though.
The Caesium blue paint costs £615 and the black contract roof a further £510. While it is missing the optional heated seats, the optional heated steering wheel proved handy on chilly mornings.
Standard 18in rims have been replaced by optional 20in items and the ride is firm. Not spine-tingling, but firm, although it looks the part.
The E-Pace’s interior looks equally satisfying and boasts a quality feel too, with a blue highlight stitch to complement the exterior paintwork.
Its F-type-inspired cockpit delivers a driver-focused environment, with so much adjustment for seeking the most comfortable driving position, that you are simply not trying if you cannot find the sweet spot.
Seats are supportive too and there is little to disappoint the E-Pace driver. Storage space is useful, with
good-sized door pockets and a centre console that conceals a lift-out compartment for even more space.
Dropping the rear seat backrest reminds you this is a compact SUV with a steeply sloping rear window.
There is a generous opening in which to load all manner of paraphernalia, but the compromise is a seat backrest that goes nowhere near flat enough to make the most of its load-lugging potential.
A towbar will let you haul 1,800kg for bulkier items that will not fit.
This said, the E-Pace makes a far more entertaining proposition than the larger F-Pace.
Just choose your options wisely.