As the first SUV from Jaguar, the F-Pace is a watershed vehicle for a brand that has already revolutionised itself over the last ten years, leaving behind its stodgy old-man image for a more dynamic and aesthetic brand ethos.
Within the Jaguar Land Rover family, Land Rover already has SUVs well and truly covered, so can the F-Pace exist without treading on its sibling’s toes? For the survival of the Jaguar brand, whose sales pale in comparison to those of Land Rover, it needs to.
Thanks to a blend of athletic styling and agile dynamics, the F-Pace strikes its own market niche, not only against Land Rover’s offerings, but the entire crop of premium SUV players.
Vehicle Style: Prestige large SUV
Price: $103,136 (plus on-roads) $122,456 (as tested)
Engine/trans: 280kW/460Nm 3.0 litre 6cyl petrol | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.9 l/100km | Tested: 11.0 l/100km
Within the F-Pace range an array of four-cylinder diesel and six-cylinder diesel and petrol engines are available, crowned by the high-output 3.0 litre supercharged petrol V6 F-Pace 35t S tested here, which takes its engine from the F-Type coupe and roadster range.
That S trim is also the highest grade of specification offered on the F-Pace range for the time being, with the exception of the limited-number First Edition cars offered from launch.
With dimensions that sneak in slightly below those of the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5, the F-Pace has an on-road presence that is no less imposing while blending Jaguar’s current graceful muscularity with the utility of an SUV in an entirely convincing way.
- Standard Equipment: Leather and suedecloth seat trim, heated and power adjustable front sports seats, two-zone climate control, alloy sports pedals, 40:20:40 fold/recline rear seats, dusk-sensing headlights with automatic high beam. rain-sensing wipers, push-button start, reversible boot floor, 20-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0 inch touchscreen with 11 speaker audio, USB input, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, satellite navigation,
- Options Fitted: 10-inch InControl Touch Pro infotainment, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, fixed panoramic roof, keyless entry, black exterior styling pack, privacy glass, DAB radio, electrically adjustable steering column, heated front seats, leisure activity key
- Cargo Volume: 508 litres
As with the XF sedan, the F-Pace plays down its prestige price tag with a minimalist interior, putting modern simplicity ahead of fussy details and looking all the more approachable for it.
Not everyone I showed the F-Pace to was convinced that the basic dash design conveyed the right amount of prestige, but once shown the large 12.3-inch instrument cluster display and a widescreen 10-inch centre touchscreen the F-Pace became more convincing.
Same goes for the leather and suedecloth seats, which look sporty and upmarket while delivering long-range driving comfort - although the lack of standard seat cooling in a vehicle that starts north of $100k feels a little rough.
Then again, looking through the long options list for the F-Pace reveals that a huge array of personalisation options make it easy to tailor the big Jaguar to suit your preference, and the car tested here featured items such as parking assist with 360-degree camera, a panoramic glass roof, and the HD virtual instrument display that combined added over $9000 to the price tag.
When it comes to space, the F-Pace is no shrinking violet, be it on the outside or in the cabin, where both front seats offer plenty of room to move and there is more than enough space to stack in three adults across the rear bench.
Outward visibility does suffer slightly at the hands of the F-Pace’s sweeping roof. And similarly boot capacity isn’t as generous as others but the compromise isn’t as severe as it might be in something like BMW X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 280kW/460Nm Supercharged petrol V6
- Transmission: Eight speed automatic, all wheel drive
- Suspension: Double wishbone front, integral link rear suspension with adaptive dampers
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, 11.9m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 2400kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Both the medium XE and large XF sedans, particularly in their most dynamic S forms, challange segment benchmarks for handling prowess, and the F-Pace S - based on the same underpinnings as the XF, which itself borrows from the F-Type - does the same in the large SUV class.
No, it isn’t fair to compare the handling of this high-riding SUV to Jaguar’s lower, lighter passenger cars, but the F-Pace feels much like the XF from behind the wheel, and even puts the fine-handling X5 to shame on the right stretch of challenging, winding tarmac.
Steering is where the F-Pace really shines, with a fluent and direct rack that responds immediately to steering wheel inputs and remains free of vagueness as more lock is wound on, balanced with a solid weighting that inspires confidence.
At the heart of the F-Pace 35t S sits a 3.0 litre supercharged V6 producing 280kW of power and 460Nm of torque, beating the peak power outputs of both the Mercedes-Benz GLE 400 and BMW X5 35i but sandwiched between them for torque sitting 60Nm ahead of the BMW but 20Nm below the Benz.
There’s also a sharp exhaust note that stands out against the almost-anonymous Germans. Although it doesn't have the snarling, crackling aggression of the F-Type’s bi-modal exhaust it is still assertive enough to spread a grin across the driver’s face during eager throttle applications.
Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight speed automatic, which is the same ZF-sourced unit as found in the rest of the Jaguar range, though in practice it feels slightly less crisp than it does in the passenger car applications with softer gear changes that make the F-Pace a more comfortable cruiser - which is certainly no bad thing.
The ride quality on the standard 20-inch wheels is also perfectly comfortable for family duties. There’s an underlying firmness to the ride, but no harsh jarring or crashing over surface changes or potholes thanks in a large part to the generously proportioned sidewalls.
Outward visibility could prove to be issue for some, particularly shorter drivers who may find themselves closed-in by the F-Pace’s high window line and long bonnet, but the (yes, another option) surround-view camera system can take the pain out of parking.
ANCAP Rating: The Jaguar F-Pace has yet to be tested.
Safety Features: Standard safety equipment includes six airbags (dual front, front seat side, full-length curtain), electronic traction and stability control with trailer stability assist, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring, and rearview camera.
Optional safety features extend to adaptive cruise control with queue assist, lane keeping assist with driver fatigue monitoring, blind spot monitoring with reverse traffic detection, and surround-view camera
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Pre-paid service plans are available on Jaguar’s current range of vehicles, with the F-Pace range receiving up to three years/100,000km (whichever comes first) of complimentary servicing, with service intervals set at 12 months/16,000km.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
With a twin turbocharged V6 under the bonnet the GLE 400 brings effortless cruising to the big Mercedes, and though it may be slightly more pricey than the F-Pace a stronger standard equipment list makes the GLE more enticing from a value perspective.
Imposing dimensions give the X5 a real presence, but adept dynamics make it feel much smaller on the road. A combination of buttery-smooth inline six-cylinder engine and silky shifting eight-speed auto make the X5 a genuine delight to drive - with seven seats an option as well.
Looking like nothing else on sale at the moment, the Infiniti QX70 defies convention, and small sales numbers mean you’ll have something more unique than your neighbour. But Infiniti lacks the prestige pedigree of other premium brands. On the plus side the QX70 Sport Premium offers the only V8 engine of this group.
Despite being a class smaller, the Porsche Macan GTS aims for a similarly high level of dynamic capability, and nails the brief - as well as looking sharp with plenty of Porsche styling hallmarks integrated into its hatch-like SUV shape.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
When Jaguar announced that it was going to develop its first SUV, purists were horrified. Concern over cannibalisation of Land Rover’s product range, and the dilution of Jaguar’s image were raised. As it turns out, there is no need to worry.
It may be the first vehicle of its kind from Jaguar but it certainly looks like it belongs in a Jaguar showroom, alongside low-slung F-Type roadsters and prestigious XJ Limousines.
Out on the road the experience is just as spot-on, particularly with its 280kW supercharged V6 under the bonnet. The range-topping F-Pace drives the way a Jaguar should, with handling and a soundtrack tailored to match. Though pricing may be a challenge compared to better equipped, but less exciting German competitors, there’s no doubt Jaguar has crafted a convincing entrant to take on the opposition.
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