THE new E-Pace is the cub in the Jaguar pack designed and engineered for younger buyers and first timers to the brand.
The emphasis is on style, comfort and a high degree of Wi-Fi compatibility and connectivity, delivered with Jaguar's sporting flair and the assured ability of four-wheel-drive for the majority of versions.
It will be sold in one five-door, five-seat body-shape in E-Pace and E-Pace R-Dynamic styles with different chassis settings, front and rear styling, together with S, SE and HSE specification packs and five powertrains from £28,500 to £50,710.
Engines are the familiar Jaguar Land Rover 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and turbo-petrol units with 150, 180 and 240ps, or 249 and 300ps outputs respectively.
The two lower powered engines can be ordered with six speed manual gearboxes but they can be specified, like the rest of the E-Pace range, with intelligent all wheel drive and a nine speed automatic transmission.
The entry-level model is front-wheel-drive only with the 150ps diesel engine.
A First Edition E-Pace, available for 12 months, will showcase the new Jaguar and is powered by the 180ps diesel for £47,800 or £50,160 for the 249ps petrol version with ZF auto boxes. It is based on the R-Dynamic performance chassis in mid-range SE trim, but other equipment levels can be ordered as well.
Jaguar has set out to make the E-Pace the model for today's in-touch drivers and many of its features would be familiar to users of more sophisticated mobile phones, tablets and computers.
There's a 10-inch touchscreen for most secondary controls along with a customisable 12.3-inch digital display in front of the driver.
On the techno side there's plenty of USB points and power outlets plus 4G Wi-Fi, a link to wearable technology such as Apple watches and a full colour head up display.
The E-Pace has an intelligent 'Active Driveline' powertrain which uses JLR's grip control and advanced chassis dynamics to maximise grip and in 4x4 versions it decides how to shift around the power, even operating a front wheel drive mode to optimise economy whenever possible, or sending it to the back wheels alone.
Drivers can choose their preferred settings for throttle, steering, transmission and suspension across four modes, normal, dynamic, eco and winter with the grip control taking care of progress in go-slow conditions.
Practicality shows in the immense amount of large compartments throughout the car for storage and not annoying small spaces where things fall out as you corner.
The boot floor has no discernable edge and is of a good shape and size even without folding the offset split rear seats.
The JLR off-road experience shows with a 20-inch wading depth and short overhangs front and back to cross rough ground while also giving the E-Pace 'a wheel at each corner' for good handling.
The interior features soft Windsor leather and the seats were highly adjustable, comfortable and nicely body hugging.
More than 150 prototype E-Paces were built and tested over two years in the hottest deserts to the coldest winters, and even driven over some of the harshest terrain to evaluate the responsiveness andstrength of the chassis and suspension systems.
Jaguar design director Ian Callum said the comapny was very proud of what had been achieved and revealed "the cub" was their working code-name of the car now represented in a small graphic on the windscreen and on the mats.
He said designing the shape of the car within its dimensions had been a challenge as height is not a friend of Jaguar with its sporting history, but he believed the design team was very pleased with the result, particularly the flowing profile to emphasise movement.
Turning to the interior he said: "We took a lot of ideas from the larger F-Pace and most of the controls, including the touchscreen, are very intuitive so customers will not have to hunt for features and make changes.
"The E-Pace will appeal to a new generation of buyers with its equipment and connectivity and it will create its own character."
The E-Pace is arriving at a time when the market for premium SUVs is reaching boiling point but after the outstanding debut of the bigger F-Pace, which has won numerous industry awards and is now Jaguar's top selling model, the new baby Jag has a head start.
Saying the smaller E-Pace combines sports car handling with SUV practicalities is easy but delivering that is much tougher and Jaguar has made a good stab at it.
We drove two versions of the newcomer, a 300ps petrol HSE and a 180ps diesel First Edition and the powertrains were very smooth with agile handling agile and excellent road holding.
We found the room in the cabin was reasonable for four but would be a squeeze for three in the back.
The front seats had good adjustment for occupants who would have no problem stowing a lot of items for any journey thanks to enormous bins, trays and door pockets, while the boot space - which ranges from 425 to 1,234 litres - was also generous and easy to load or empty.
With the automatic box we thought the car actually responded beter in the manual mode when you needed to make rapid progress and use the intermediate ratios.
Performance figures for the 180ps 2.0-litre diesel E-Pace 4x4 are 0 to 60 in 9.3 seconds, a top speed of 127mph and official fuel figures rate it at 50.4mpg with emissions of 147g/km.
On our drive we saw an average of 40.3 to the gallon.
The handling and responsiveness did vary significantly depending on the chosen driving mode but even more so with regard to the ride comfort.
The 20-inch wheels and tyres on both cars displayed a sometimes bumpy and stiff character on country roads, even in the Comfort drive setting and the quicker feedback in Dynamic mode seemed better suited to smoothing out irregularities of surface.
It was not the overall ride quality we expected from a Jaguar, more akin to that of some Germany rivals, so the E-Pace will have its work cut out to convince anyone familiar with these existing challengers that they should switch to the British brand's newcomer for a smoother ride.
However, this being a new Jaguar there is guaranteed to be plenty of interest and with SUVs the flavour of the moment the E-Pace has much going for it.
After all, most people fall in love with a cub.