JAGUAR'S E-PACE may be the smallest in the company's SUV line-up, but it's very big on style, character and performance making it a great rival for the likes of the Audi Q2 and Volvo XC40.
When approached from any angle the five-door E-PACE looks modern and athletic in its design with a rear spoiler, twin tailpipes, privacy glass, metal treadplates with Jaguar script, LED headlights with signature daytime running lights and E-PACE badging.
Our car featured an R-Design exterior pack for added sportiness and looked the business in Firenze Red metallic paint with a fixed panoramic roof and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Move inside and the interior is clutter-free and elegantly laid out with ebony grained leather sports seats that are 12-way power-adjusted and have a Jaguar logo below the headrests. There is a chunky gearstick, plus the latest 11.4-inch touchscreen with the new Pivi Pro infotainment system.
On-board technology levels are impressive, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a heated steering wheel, a Meridian sound system, plus a Technology Pack on the car costing Â£1,220 that introduced a head-up display, wireless device charging with phone signal booster and an interactive driver display. It also featured a ClearSight interior rear view mirror that gives a camera view of what's going on behind the car and is really practical if there are passengers in the back blocking the view.
The car, priced at £42,250 (£47,260 with options,), was powered by a 2.0-litre 204PS diesel engine with mild hybrid technology. It was matched to a slick nine-speed automatic transmission with paddles shifts for added driver engagement and could complete the 0-62mph dash in 8.4 seconds and topped out at 131mph. According to official figures, under WLTP testing, the E-PACE could deliver a combined 43.9mpg with carbon emission of 169g/km.
When it comes to performance, the latest E-PACE is a delight to drive with smooth acceleration through the automatic gearbox and plenty of power on tap. It cruises on motorways effortlessly eating up the miles, but is accomplished out on the country lanes too with good agility and confident road-holding through tighter bends.
There are drive modes called Eco, Comfort and Dynamic that are fairly self-explanatory, along with an AdSR mode that stands for Adaptive Surface Response and helps the vehicle maintain grip in more adverse driving conditions.
In busier town centre settings, the car is nicely nimble and easy to manoeuvre with all manner of parking sensors, cameras and assistance systems to help squeeze into tight parking spaces.
The driver benefits from an elevated seating position which results in good all-round visibility. This is a major plus factor on a vehicle that is likely to be used for the school run on a regular basis.
Comfort levels within the car are excellent up front with ample space for six-foot-plus occupants. The legroom in the back is a little cramped if the front seats are pushed right back and, although there is room for three passengers, they will be rubbing shoulders.
Storage options are good with a boot that can accommodate 495 litres of kit, extended to 1,386 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
And throughout the cabin there are lots of places to store bits and pieces, including an underfloor boot compartment, glovebox, door bins, seatback nets, a deep central cubby box, front and rear cup holders and a place to put your sunnies.
As one would expect, the Jaguar E-PACE is packed with safety kit and secured a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating. Features include blind spot assist, a rear traffic monitor system, traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed limiter, auto high beam assist, dynamic stability control, torque vectoring by braking, lane keep assist, hill launch assist, emergency brake assist, rear Isofix fixtures and a full suite of airbags.
All in all, the latest Jaguar E-PACE is a fabulous compact SUV that ticks all the boxes for anyone looking for an upmarket, stylish compact SUV that's big on performance, handling, technology and comfort. It's also fairly competitively priced which is another plus factor.
£42,250, plus£5,010 extras
204PS, 1997cc, 4-cylinder, diesel-driven mild-hybrid engine with 9-speed automatic transmission