As promised, Jaguar has revealed the all-new E-Pace crossover, adding a smaller option to its growing SUV lineup. A new Jag SUV is a noteworthy event in itself, particularly given what we know about the gorgeous F-Pace, and Jag decided to give it some extra pop, sending the E-Pace soaring onto the scene with a world record barrel roll. It was a pretty cool feat, but we’re really more excited by the idea of a Jaguar utility vehicle under US$40K.

Since the F-Pace debuted in 2015, we’ve considered it the benchmark in terms of successful premium utility vehicle styling. Very few SUVs have ever had that feeling of “want at first sight” the F-Pace inspires.

So naturally, the first thing we wondered when we heard about the E-Pace: Does it have its big brother’s looks?

Jaguar wants the world to think of the five-seat E-Pace as a sports car with utility vehicle space and practicality, which means its design team drew from both the F-Pace and F-Type. The E-Pace clearly shares facial features with both vehicles, its front layout of grilles and vents following the F-Pace, its headlights, the F-Type.

The E-Pace’s roof arches gently back to a sporty spoiler before giving way to an angled rear windshield and sharp-dropping rear fascia. At the sides, the teardrop-like window design follows from the F-Type coupe.

Instead of the smoother, subtler rear fenders of the F-Pace, the E-Pace is grounded on pronounced, chiseled rear muscles, creating a slightly aggressive presence from virtually every angle. These fenders taper back into the sharp LED taillights. The rear fascia includes a lower mesh ventilation strip pinned at the ends by dual exhaust tips.

We still prefer the long, slender figure and gentler lines of the F-Pace, but the E-Pace does hit the eye as a sporty AWD hatchback built for much more than just taking the family camping. Its side view makes us want to swing the door open, take the wheel and follow the long, windy way to camp – the rest of the family can find their own way there, gear-loaded trailer in tow.

A ride for all conditions

The E-Pace’s strong rear haunches hint at a possible rear-wheel drive, but the contrast arch trim suggests AWD – so which is it?

The US-market E-Pace comes as all-wheel drive only, and the only other option in the UK is a front-wheel drive. Jaguar’s available Active Driveline technology splits torque based on conditions, and under normal conditions, it aims for a sporty feel. The torque sent to the rear axle is split out to the two wheels via two independent electronically controlled wet-plate clutches. These clutches can direct up to 100 percent of the torque to one wheel or the other within 100 milliseconds.

In more demanding conditions, the Active Driveline AWD splits torque based on input from the sensors reading conditions every 10 milliseconds. For instance, in slick conditions, the system will adjust torque to minimize slip and maintain vehicle stability. During cornering, it will distribute more torque to the outside wheels to keep handling on point. It can also lock both rear clutches, acting like a locking rear differential.

During steady cruising, the Active Driveline system can cut power to the AWD all together, increasing efficiency by letting the front wheels drive alone.

The Active Driveline system is available with the flagship 296-hp four-cylinder engine, which puts out 295 lb-ft. Also available to US buyers is a 246-hp/269 lb-ft four-cylinder, which comes with a more basic Standard Driveline. Both gas engines belong to Jaguar Land Rover’s all-aluminum, turbocharged 2.0-liter Ingenium family and come paired with a ZF nine-speed automatic transmission. The 296-hp model makes the 0 to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) dash in 5.9 seconds.

UK buyers will also have the option of three Ingenium diesels and a six-speed manual.

The E-Pace’s available adaptive dynamics suspension uses continuously variable damper technology to deliver optimal response and a sharp ride. It monitors vehicle movements every 2 milliseconds and calculates damping force every 10 milliseconds, reacting to changes to maintain precise driver control and minimize body roll. Normal and Dynamic settings are available, and the system is also tuned for quick reaction to off-road conditions.

The JaguarDrive Control system offers four different modes – normal, dynamic, eco, and rain/ice/snow. These modes fine-tune not only the suspension, but also settings related to the throttle response, steering and transmission.

Other standard and available systems include dynamic stability control, electronic traction control, torque vectoring by braking, and low-speed, low-traction all-surface cruise control. Driver-assistance technologies include hill start assist, blind spot assist, forward traffic monitor, park assist and emergency braking.

Heading inside

While Jaguar seems to have things covered nicely on the styling and performance fronts, crossover buyers also want to know that the vehicle has space and versatility. Inside the lift-gate with available gesture control opening and closing, the E-Pace offers up to 52.5 cu ft (1,487 L) with the rear seats folded and 24.2 cu ft (685 L) with them upright. The 60:40 split folding seats help drivers find the necessary blend of passenger and cargo space. Jaguar credits the 105.6-in (2,681 mm) wheelbase and compact Integral Link rear suspension with helping in space optimization.

Up front, Jaguar points out that you can go ahead and lay two 1-liter water bottles in the 8.4-liter center console compartment and still have plenty of room for other stuff. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to do that, you can also equip the E-Pace with a smaller 5.9 L compartment and cupholders.

The E-Pace carries Jaguar’s latest 10-in touchscreen-based InControl Touch Pro infotainment system standard. An available 12.3-in full-color digital instrument panel shows driver information, including 3D satellite navigation mapping.

The E-Pace becomes the first Jaguar to get the option of a new-generation head-up display, which can show information like speed, navigation directions, engine speed, entertainment details, and driver-assistance system settings and warnings. Jaguar promises graphics that are sharp, bright and clear.

If all that tech isn’t enough to let the front passenger know who’s in charge, Jaguar’s driver/passenger area-delineating passenger grab handle, borrowed from the F-Type, should do the trick.

Jaguar Land Rover’s InControl suite of connected features offers remote vehicle smartphone monitoring and system control, connected navigation, in-vehicle app access, and a vehicle 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.

Jaguar weaves all the interior space and technology together with soft, comfort-boosting materials like leather upholstery and trim and soft-trimmed door casings. In place of all the wood trim you might expect in a luxury crossover, Jaguar has opted for Noble Chrome for more of a contemporary look. Each seat has access to a dedicated USB charging port, and up to four 12 V sockets are spread around the interior.

Designed in the UK, built in Austria

The E-Pace will go on sale in the US in early 2018, following a late-2017 UK launch. Base prices will range between $38,600 and $44,300 for the 246-hp standard, S and SE trims and $47,250 and $53,100 for the 296-hp R-Dynamic S, SE and HSE trims. The $53,550 First Edition model will be available for the first full year of sales, featuring the 246-hp engine and equipment like load rails, a head-up display and a Jaguar Activity Key. All prices are before $995 delivery and handling fee.

Jaguar will rely on Austrian engineering and manufacturing specialist Magna Steyr for E-Pace production. Magna will also build the I-Pace electric utility vehicle starting in 2018.