CORSICA, France – If the idea of yet another non-sports car Jaguar on the road leaves you cold, try to keep an open mind about the E-Pace.

That’s because if you care about things like spirited engine performance and sprightly chassis dynamics, the E-Pace will change your opinion of whether a CUV can keep up with the sports coupes and sedans of the world.

Two words: It can.

Our test car, the ’18 E-Pace P300 R-Dynamic model, featured Jaguar’s Ingenium 2.0L turbocharged inline 4-cyl., producing 296 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque, sending power to all four wheels via a ZF 9-speed automatic transmission. A 246 hp and 269 lb.-ft. (365 Nm) version of the same engine, a 2018 Wards 10 Best Engines winner, is available in the base P250 in North America.

The P300 engine is stellar, pulling and revving much more like a mid-displacement V-6 as it leaps from launch and doesn’t seem to lose its quick response regardless of speed or rpm, especially in the crucial 45-70-mph (72-113-km/h) range. The exhaust note and induction even sound V-6-like.

Punching up Dynamic mode, one of four options along with Eco, Normal and Rain/Ice/Snow, amps up throttle response, increases steering effort and tightens transmission shift points, while adding red highlights to the gauges.

In Dynamic mode, transmission response via the steering-wheel paddle shifters is immediate while the improved steering action is exceptional when spirited driving calls for quicker reflexes from driver and vehicle.

The E-Pace’s powertrain is its strong suit, offering lots of good, usable power on demand without a lot of theatrics. The car’s fuel-saving stop/start action is noticeable, but not unpleasant. Overall, this is a superb setup that gives the E-Pace a sportier-than-expected feel and excellent road manners.

The E-Pace shares the same unibody, transverse-engine layout and Active Driveline technology with the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. But for the E-Pace, engineers opted for the rear integral-link suspension array from the Jaguar XE, XF and F-Pace, a decision that puts the E-Pace on a different course when it comes to driving dynamics.

At the heart of the action is JLR’s Active Driveline, introduced on the Evoque and sharing the same GKN Twinster differential employed by Ford in its hot AWD Focus RS hatchback. Standard on the P300, the system is capable of transferring power front to rear in 300 milliseconds, while the GKN torque-vectoring rear differential uses two electronically controlled wet clutches to transfer power from side to side in 100 milliseconds.