The Jaguar F-Pace knows how to make an entrance
Jaguar’s appearance on the luxury crossover SUV scene has lagged its rivals by around a decade but, as those who keep good company know, it’s better to be late than it is to arrive ugly.
The F-Pace arrived with a stylish whump in 2016, three years after making an appearance as the C-X17 concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013 – and a few months later at the Dubai Motor Show where a handful of journalists got to test drive the pre-production mule.
Even then, the car’s potential was clear. Its athletic appearance and muscular proportions had flowed from the pen of Jaguar’s director of design Ian Callum and had leaned heavily on cues from the F-Type sports car and XJ luxury saloon. Where others may have been tempted to keep tweaking, the production car differs only in slight details from the concept car. While the F-Pace may be the first step into the SUV market for the company, it’s still instantly recognisable as a Jaguar.
The details are more than just skin deep. The F-Pace is the first Jaguar-Land Rover SUV to use the new aluminium iQ platform that underpins the XE and XF models, and will also be used in the Range Rover Velar slated for release in 2018. The body structure is 80 percent aluminium and is the only aluminium intensive monocoque design in this segment. Thanks to things like the composite tailgate and use of magnesium components in the car’s suspension, the F-Pace is one of the lightest SUVs in its class too.
It may look like an SUV but the F-Pace gets sportscar-like handling as standard. The double wishbone front suspension has been lifted from the F–Type and adapted for SUV duties, while the optional electronically-controlled Adaptive Dynamics system instantaneously changes damper rates to suit surface conditions. That, coupled with a rigid chassis and willing V6 engine, make the F-Pace one of the most exciting mid-sized SUVs to drive on the market.
Jaguar has not sacrificed interior comfort, convenience or luxury in the pursuit of performance. It’s a true five-seater with a generous 650-litres of luggage space behind the rear seats. There’s plenty of leg-space for rear-seat passengers and enough space for them to poke their feet under the front seats – and a lot of headroom despite the inclusion of a panoramic sunroof as standard. Coupled with the optional InControl Touch Pro system – part of the Technology package – and its 17-speaker Meridian sound system, 10-inch centre screen and 12-inch gauge cluster, the F-Pace is a very entertaining place to be.
For all its sporty design and pretentions, it’s easy to forget that the F-Pace is actually an SUV. The 340hp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 delivers a healthy wallop of torque that pushes the car to 100kph from standing in just over five seconds, and on to a top speed of almost 250kph.
The F-Pace is easily one of the best looking and performing SUVs in its class. It may have been late to the party, but Jaguar certainly knows how to make an entrance.