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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Nine may seem like an excessive number of gear ratios for a mid-range 2.0-litre diesel SUV, although we all know enough about lab-certified emissions and economy tests to know why Jaguar has opted for so many here.

However, the firm’s decision to use the transmission is made even more mysterious on acquaintance, when you observe that this ZF-built unit tends to cling to each ratio a little too long under acceleration before executing a fairly leisurely – albeit suitably smooth – shift.

A transversely mounted engine isn’t what we’re used to seeing in a Jaguar, but positioning the 2.0-litre diesel this way makes for greater interior space.

Were the car’s Ingenium diesel engine a smoother one at high revs, or had it a greater operating range, perhaps it wouldn’t seem such a problem, but the motor possesses neither of those attributes and feels a little bit laboured for much of the time.

The upshot for the D180 is that progress never feels as energetic as you might hope for from a Jaguar, and that’s confirmed by a 0-60mph time that dips under 10sec by only the slimmest of margins.

By comparison, the similarly equipped and only marginally more potent Volvo XC40 D4 laid down an 8.5sec run in damp conditions, and was quicker by an equivalent proportion in dispatching the 30-70mph rolling sprint that’s important for overtaking. Quite simply, we’d expect better from a car whose marketing taglines seek to place it among the more vigorous and exciting models in its class.

However, one benefit of having so very many ratios is that the D180 E-Pace registers barely more than 1800rpm at 70mph (although with 45.8mph per 1000rpm in ninth, any kind of in-gear acceleration in ‘top’ is very slow).

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And so, even though the Ingenium diesel is being squeezed into a particularly compact space here and is also an engine we’ve pulled up for a shortage of refinement in other applications, the E-Pace can progress along motorways in a surprisingly serene fashion.