THE Big Cats are on the prowl in the premium SUV market.
First the F-PACE arrived to widespread acclaim, taking the 2017 World Car of the Year crown as it became the fastest selling new model in Jaguar's history, and now the E-PACE is following suit.
The compact and sporty crossover has only been in showrooms for a few months but was the main driver behind a 6.4 percent year-on-year sales rise in sales for the Coventry-based marque in June - and it's easy to see why when you clock its muscular proportions and curvaceous lines.
The E-PACE takes plenty of design cues from the F-Type sports car and, with its distinctive honeycomb grille, short overhangs, sweeping roofline, powerful haunches and twin tailpipes, was a real head-turner with my family and friends.
Well-equipped entry-level, S, SE and HSE specifications are available, while choosing an R-Dynamic model dials up the sportiness with a range of visual enhancements inside and out, including sports front seats and distinctive badging.
Power comes from a selection of 2.0 litre Ingenium engines - 150, 180 or 240ps diesels and 200, 250 or 300ps petrols - although not all are available with all trim levels.
Lower spec diesel models can be had with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox but most of the range get 4x4 running gear and a smooth nine-speed automatic transmission.
The diesels will appeal to business buyers and high-mileage users but for those after an authentic Jaguar driving experience the turbocharged petrol engines represent the better option, thanks to their livelier performance and extra pace.
The 250ps unit will shift the E-PACE from 0-62mph in just seven seconds and on to a top speed of 143mph.
With maximum torque of 365Nm available from just 1,200 revs it feels keen and punchy and copes equally well with stop-start urban traffic or cruising effortlessly on the motorway, while the all-wheel drive system and torque vectoring mean grip is solid and assured.
The steering weights up nicely at speed and the sophisticated suspension keeps everything neat and tidy, with minimal body roll in bends, making the E-PACE one of the more enjoyable and engaging SUVs to drive.
The set-up of the car can be adjusted, depending upon road conditions or mood, via a drive mode selector, which offers eco, comfort and dynamic settings as well as a customisable individual option.
A plush and refined interior largely meets the luxury expectations of a Jaguar but does lack the theatre of other models - the gear selector, for instance, being of the standard type rather than the cool rotary one that rises from the centre console.
Passenger space is good, though, with decent head and legroom in the rear as well as enough shoulder room for three adults. Mum, Dad and three kids will certainly be no problem - and there are plenty of storage cubbies for all of their stuff.
At 577 litres, rising to 1,234 litres with rear seats folded down, the boot also has a useful concealed compartment beneath the floor to keep valuable items away from prying eyes.
Connectivity is increasingly important in a modern high-end family motor and the E-PACE has got you covered when it comes to keeping everyone online.
Depending on the model, you can have up to five USB ports and four 12v charging points while higher spec versions come with their own Wifi hotspot for up to eight mobile devices.
Flagship HSE versions are pricey but come fully loaded with goodies such as premium leather upholstery, Meridien stereo, satnav, keyless entry and ignition and electric front seats with 18-way adjustment.
However, with prices starting at a more modest £28,930, even entry level cars get alloy wheels, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, emergency brake assist and a rear-view camera as well as a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system.