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Jaguar E-PACE 150hp diesel S

When the E-PACE launched last year Jaguar wasn’t afraid to reveal its big goals for the small SUV. Although it was a tad late to the crossover party, the manufacturer believes the cub will be its biggest seller by a country mile.

Before you ask, no, E-PACE does not mean electric. That’s a job left to the far more expensive I-PACE. And no, the E-Pace is not based on the mechanicals of the F-PACE either, although some might assume that it is. Confusing, right? The small SUV is actually derived from the D8 architecture used to underpin the Land Rover Discovery Sport, but its real competitors include the Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40. No biggie, then.

The engine range for this car starts with a 2.0-litre diesel that develops 150hp, and is mated to a - wait for it - front-wheel drive transmission.

Despite losing out on the all-wheel drive capability; only available on the more expensive model, grip is actually quite good. Testing the car for a week on a variation of roads from countryside to motorway and city, we found that body roll is surprisingly impressive, too, and even the tightest of corners don’t faze the small giant.

If only the same could be said for the suspension. Hit a bump and your butt will feel it. Other things that stand out are the rear pillars, which are huge, and mean the view out of the back window is very limited. The six-speed manual gearbox isn’t great either as gear changes feel sticky and notchy. You’re far better off upgrading to the eight-speed automatic, which is far more pleasant.

Our car would cost £28,500, but has an options list as long as the M25, including its ‘Yulong’ white metallic paint costing £615, the ‘Ebony’ grained leather seats with matching interior which totals £1,735 and the fixed panoramic roof which will leave you short of a few trips to Lanzarote at £970. Open the centre console and you will discover Jaguar’s waterproof activity key which looks similar to a FitBit. The idea is you can leave the car key in the car while you do your activities and unlock it with the wristband when you return. It doesn’t cheap though at £310, but is a useful option if you’re into outdoor sport.

To be honest, we were expecting a lot more when it comes to premium styling from the second trim in the offering, and while it may have all the fancy materials on the seats due to the upgraded packages, other materials have been forgotten about. The most noticeable scratchy surface is plastered all around the ignition button, which is placed to the left and slightly behind the steering wheel. This means your hand has to wander over the material to find the button – not the best first impression.

Despite the absence of luxurious materials in some places, the E-Pace S is not short of standard equipment. It still has 17in alloys, LED headlights, DAB radio, cruise control, a really impressive and clear reversing camera and a reasonable array of active safety systems. The 10in touchscreen infotainment system is easy-to-use but unfortunately not up to the standards of competitor systems such as Volvo’s. And because of the way it is positioned at a slant, I found it really difficult to see when driving - though this could also admittedly be due to my height or lack of it.

If all goes to plan, the E-Pace will be a breakthrough car for Jaguar, pushing its annual global sales past the quarter-million mark. Do we think it has the ability to do this? Ultimately, yes. Despite some flaws, the E-PACE is still a desirable little thing that’s more than worthy of your consideration.

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