The 2018 Jaguar E-PACE SUV is not what you think it is

Jaguar has taken the wraps off the 2018 E-PACE, it's latest SUV, but despite what the name would seem to imply this isn't the company's hotly-anticipated electric crossover. Instead, the E-PACE is the automaker's new compact SUV, a smaller option alongside the F-PACE. If you want full electric, you'll have to wait for the I-PACE EV that's due in 2018.

Instead, the E-PACE will be offered with gas engines only in the US. Two versions will be available, each based on the company's 2.0-liter turbocharged Ingenium gas engine. The entry-level car will have 246 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and 269 lb-ft. of torque from 1,200 rpm. It'll do 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds, and have a top speed of 143 mph.

The E-PACE R-DYNAMIC, meanwhile, while coax 296 HP and 295 lb-ft. of torque from the engine. That'll be good for a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds, with a top speed slightly increased to 151 mph. Both have a ZF 9-speed automatic transmission and are all-wheel drive as standard.

Whatever the powertrain, it's an eminently sensible model for Jaguar to launch. The crossover and SUV space is the main point of growth in the auto industry right now, far more popular than the sedan and relative niche coupe and convertible spaces that Jaguar traditionally played in. The F-PACE SUV has been a rising star in the automaker's line-up, meanwhile, seeing a warm reception alongside its Land Rover and Range Rover siblings.

The design calls heavily on the F-PACE, with short overhangs and a distinctive side profile. Big creases in the fenders and oversized rear haunches borrow from the F-TYPE coupe, as do the LED headlamps. S-model and above trims get J-blade daytime running lights, while the rear lamps are LED as standard.

Eleven exterior colors are offered, with the roof body-colored by default. Alternatively, Jaguar will offer a black roof or a fixed panoramic glass roof. 21-inch wheels will be optional, and there'll be either polished or satin chrome side fender vents, depending on whether you go for E-PACE or E-PACE R-Dynamic trims. Jaguar says the tailpipes – sprouting from within the rear valance – are inspired by jet engines, while the bold front grille is 3D-chamfered.

Inside, Jaguar's wraparound dashboard splits the front space between driver and passenger. There's more satin chrome and leather, Jaguar eschewing the wood it might traditionally have opted for, while contrast stitching lifts the leather on the seats, steering wheel, and gear shifter. The dashboard gets a 10-inch touchscreen and Jaguar's Touch Pro infotainment system, while the E-PACE can optionally be outfitted with a 12.3-inch digital display for the driver's instrumentation, along with a color head-up display. 4G LTE with a WiFi hotspot for up to eight devices is standard on the S, SE, and HSE cars.

First out the gate will be the E-PACE First Edition. That'll have the 246 HP engine along with a choice of three colors – including, exclusively at first, Caldera Red – and 20-inch satin grey wheels. Windsor leather in ebony with red contrast stitching indoors will be joined with a panoramic glass roof and LED ambient lighting.

Whichever model you opt for, there's Integral Link rear suspension and a special hollow-cast aluminum front suspension design to keep weight down. Jaguar claims the overall feel is the driving experience of a sedan but with an SUV driving position. Optional is the Configurable Dynamics package, which offers settings for throttle and steering response, transmission shift speed, and, if fitted, the Adaptive Dynamics suspension. The latter has continuously variable dampers that adjust every 10 milliseconds.

As for the AWD, the regular system can push almost full power to the front or the rear depending on grip conditions. An Active Driveline system on the more powerful version does the same, but can also send power solely to the front wheels during steady cruising. At the rear, two independent electronically-controlled wet-plate crutches can send up to 100-percent of the torque to either of the wheels in 100 milliseconds. That accompanies brake-based torque vectoring.

For practicality, there's a 24.2 cubic foot trunk with the rear seats up. Drop them – they split 60/40 – and that expands to 52.5 cubic feet. An electric, gesture controlled tailgate is an option, as is the Activity Key which unlocks the car with an RFID-enabled sports wristband.

In the US, the 2018 E-PACE will kick off at $38,600 for the 246 HP model. The E-PACE S will be $41,500, while the E-PACE SE will be $44,300. If you want the 296 HP engine, that'll be $47,250 for the E-PACE R-Dynamic S, $50,050 for the R-Dynamic SE, and $53,100 for the R-Dynamic HSE. Finally, the E-PACE First Edition will be $53,550. Sales will kick off from the start of 2018.