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2018 Jaguar E-Pace: First Impressions

2018 Jaguar E-PACE

Jaguar is the market's hottest luxury brand right now — and it's reasons like the vehicle you see here that are showing us why. This is the new 2018 Jaguar E-Pace crossover, a subcompact model that fits in below the mid-sized F-Pace SUV and is meant to draw ever younger buyers into the Jaguar showroom.

Related: Face-to-Face With E-Pace: Jaguar Unveils Compact SUV

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By the looks of things, it's about to get very young-and-trendy on the Jag side of the Jaguar Land Rover dealer. The E-Pace is noticeably smaller than the F-Pace and feels roughly the same size as a Kia Sportage. The styling is also considerably different from the F-Pace, and that is by design — Ian Callum, Jaguar's chief of design, said he didn't want to create a "baby F-Pace," but instead wanted to make the E-Pace sportier and more exciting by copying the F-Type sports coupe.

Having gotten up close to the new subcompact SUV last week in Detroit, I can attest that Callum has done an admirable job of that, with the look decidedly more racy and coupelike than the F- Pace. The headlights — which look lifted directly from the low-slung coupe — as well as an uptick to the beltline around the back of the vehicle both suggest something sporty and quick.

The roofline slopes dramatically down to the rear lights, limiting the E-Pace's utility as an SUV, but Callum suggests that buyers in this segment aren't really using the cargo space. Given the popularity of the BMW X4 coupe and the appearance of the Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe, that isn't a far-fetched idea.

Inside, the E-Pace P300 trim I sat in was opulent, stylish and again bears more than a passing resemblance to the F-Type coupe. The grab handle on the right of the center console is pure F-Type, and the whole aesthetic inside looks fantastic. Material quality is excellent, with wonderful leather swathing most surfaces and ritzy-looking metal and plastic trim throughout.

The beltline is also very high, so you feel like you're sitting down in a tub — a common feeling in the new Jaguar interiors. Visibility out is decent despite the high beltline, but the view to the rear is compromised. There's plenty of space inside, a surprising amount really, given the diminutive proportions of the exterior.

The backseat has plenty of room for full-size adults, with sufficient legroom to be comfortable and plenty of headroom, even with the moonroof on the P300. It really emphasizes how tall the E-Pace is, and how good a job the stylists have done on the exterior, that you don't realize just how tall it is. Sitting in the backseat, however, looking at the short rear doors that are extremely tall, you get a better sense of it.

From a styling and comfort standpoint, the new E-Pace looks to be a really exciting new offering. The lack of cargo room may limit its appeal for some buyers, but for young couples looking for the latest stylish new tiny luxury crossover, Jaguar has crafted something that should be massively appealing.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace; photos by Aaron Bragman