IT is hard to believe Jaguar thought so long and hard before deciding to make the award winning F-Pace.
After all, almost everyone has been churning out SUVs forever. It's as an important a weapon to a car firm as an air force is to a nation's defence.
But then wouldn't an off-road Jag compete with its blood brothers from Land Rover, and also detract from Range Rover sales? And was Jaguar big enough with fewer than 100,000 sales to compete with the likes of Audi, Mercedes and BMW?
Finally, the decision was done, the F-Pace was born and figures just released show the beautifully sculpted SUV to driving sales into the stratosphere with an increase of more than 70 per cent to 148,730 last year.
The most popular F-Pace is the 2.0-litre diesel which is understandable because while it possesses the elegant and sporting architecture of the more expensive and faster models, it is reasonable - almost cheap - to run with miserly economy, low CO2 emissions and modest insurance costs.
Slightly larger than the class average, it is designed to compete with Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC, BMW X3 and the more expensive but unusually athletic (by SUV standards) Porsche Megan.
That it measures up, and perhaps surpasses the Porsche, in terms of handling and road behaviour while being more practical and roomier is an instant indication of why the Jaguar has been so successful.
The two litre, four cylinder diesel, also seen in the XE and XF saloons, knocks out a creditable 178bhp which is about par for the course in this class. It's a bit gruff in the saloons, but the installation in the F-Pace is good and less vibration creeps into the cabin.
Manual transmission is available in the smaller engine but most buyers seem to prefer the eight speed automatic. I can see why - it's smooth, unobtrusive and has the sort of intuitive change that you wish all autos had.
Don't expect fireworks in the acceleration department - this is a 4.7 metre car powered by a relatively small engine. Nevertheless, it's no slouch and 62mph comes up tidily in under nine seconds. Mid range power is fine for safe overtaking and noise levels remain pleasantly low.
A positive to be taken from the 2.0-litre is the deft handling and precision of the excellent power steering. With an engine lighter than either of the petrol or diesel 3.0s, it wins in terms of responsiveness. It's also noticeably more frugal - most owners will close in on 40mpg in everyday running.
This car came in all wheel drive R Sport guise so you get some attractive trim, sporty body kit, Xenon headlights and 20-inch wheels. Large wheels look great but they can harm the comfort. Not so here - it has a near magic carpet ride which soaks up the irregularities but contains any excess body roll.
Adaptive suspension, a £985 extra, is worth the money especially if like many buyers you are coming from running a sports saloon.