The E-Pace will serve as a smaller yet stylish alternative to the midsize F-Pace.

Jaguar's new E-Pace crossover has been revealed in spectacular fashion, launching off a 50-foot jump with a 270-degree 'barrel roll' worthy of a Guinness World Record. We caught up with Jag's newest cub during the first-ever JLR Tech Fest in London, England.

The E-Pace will serve as a smaller yet stylish alternative to the midsize F-Pace, the brand's first entry in the ever-growing and high-profit SUV segment.

The compact model draws from Jaguar's sports car heritage, adapted for a higher profile. Its short front and rear overhangs, teardrop side windows, muscular tapered haunches and LED headlights are all inspired by the F-Type.

Designers apparently strived to distinguish the E-Pace as a distinct model, rather than merely shrinking the F-Pace mold into a compact footprint. The company also adopted a unique front fascia and other special touches for the high-performance R-Dynamic package.

The chassis benefits from an integral link rear suspension system created for the F-Pace, while the front suspension components are tuned for a 'connected' steering feel. Stiff bushings and anti-roll bars help minimize roll angles for a more car-like behavior. Adaptive dampers will be available eventually as an option.

"With the E-Pace, our aim was to develop a Jaguar SUV that feels and responds with the character of any of our rear-wheel drive vehicles," says Jaguar's chief engineer of vehicle integrity, Mike Cross.

Two of Jaguar Land Rover's 2.0-liter Ingenium engines will motivate the new model. Entry-level builds will achieve 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, bringing the vehicle up to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Higher configurations will have 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet, reducing the sprint benchmark to 5.9 seconds.

Both engine variants are paired with a nine-speed ZF transmission, but buyers will face a choice between standard all-wheel drive and an Active Driveline system that can split nearly all available torque to the front or rear axles. Software sends more torque to outside wheels during cornering and locks the rear clutches in an oversteer event.

"On low-friction surfaces, the Active Driveline system is designed to allow the driver to initiate power-on oversteer and maintain a controlled drift until the vehicle regains traction," the company says.

The E-Pace will be the first model manufactured via a new arrangement with Magna Steyr in Austria. The first examples will arrive early next year with prices starting at $38,600 -- around $5,000 or more above the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Live images by Ronan Glon.