Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how the car drives, we need to address the elephant in the room: its weight. You see, despite looking a bit like an F-Type, underneath its designer suit the E-Pace has far more in common with Land Rover’s Discovery Sport.
True, the engineers have shaved off a few pounds by making the tailgate, bonnet, roof and front wings out of aluminium, but the E-Pace still tips the scales at a hefty 1.8 tonnes – around 85kg more than the larger F-Pace. Unsurprisingly, then, the 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel model isn’t exactly rapid.
Floor the accelerator and, even once the slow-witted nine-speed automatic gearbox has decided on a ratio, you accelerate with all the urgency of an asthmatic runner. Things improve once you've built up a few revs but, even so, the E-Pace never feels a match for equivalent versions of the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40.
There is an even less powerful diesel, the 148bhp 2.0-litre unit, which is available in front-wheel drive and can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox. Obviously, it’s slower than the 178bhp version, but presumably those looking at this type of engine aren’t too interested in breathtaking acceleration. Around town, the pace is perfectly adequate, and given some encouragement it doesn’t prove frustratingly slow at motorway speeds. Things are helped by the decent manual gearbox, too, because the automatic is so sluggish. Ultimately, though, the 178bhp unit is the pick of the range because of the added flexibility in performance. If you want diesel and pace is your primary concern, there’s a 237bhp option, but predictably it’s expensive and not as economical as the others.
The range-topping 298bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine goes some way to injecting some serious pace into the line-up. It’s lighter and revvier than the diesels and imbues the E-Pace with the performance you'd expect from a sporty SUV. But should you plan on regularly exercising your right foot, be aware that this is a 35.3mpg car in official tests. In the real world, you’ll struggle to achieve more than 25mpg. The 247bhp petrol version, meanwhile, is also very punchy and feels a lot sharper and smoother than the diesel variants, but it’s pricey.