Years ago, even before its fairly short period of Ford ownership, Jaguar, management made it quite clear that the famed British carmaker would never build an SUV. It was “not Jaguar’s thing” and the very idea of offering such a vehicle, rather than concentrate on sports sedans and pure sports cars was not even worth thinking about. I once put the question to the then-chairman of Jaguar over lunch and he said “not a chance.”
But times change and the vehicle buying public clamours for SUVs, with even Bentley and Rolls-Royce getting in on the act. Luxury SUVs are particularly hot and products from Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Audi, Lexus, BMW, Acura, Infiniti and others have been strong sellers, some of them for many years.
Finally, Jaguar has taken the plunge with its all-wheel drive F-Pace crossover/SUV and anyone who’s driven it will confirm that it was worth the long wait. From a styling angle, the vehicle is fairly conservative and Jaguar has taken a cautious approach, rather than try anything too radical. The company has a great understanding of its customers and research must have proved this was the best way to handle the design job. It’s a handsome vehicle from every angle and the grille area is, expectedly, an adaptation of the company’s current ‘nose job.’ It looks distinctive, fresh and athletic. Like other models in the Jaguar range, it’s produced from aluminum and the structure is both rigid and light. The manufacturer always strives to endow its products with what it calls ‘Jaguarness’ and with the F-Pace; they’ve probably pulled this off nicely.
F-Pace buyers can choose from three engines – a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel with 180-horsepower or two 3.0-litre supercharged gasoline V-6s with 340-horsepower or 380-horsepower. There are also various trim ranges and all kinds of tempting extras to choose from and this contributes towards the very wide price range of the new F-Pace. The transmission, incidentally, is an 8-speed automatic, that uses Jaguar’s excellent rotary shift dial, which glides handily out of the console when you fire up the engine. There’s a pair of paddles behind the steering to give the give the driver a degree of manual control. No manual transmission is listed.
The roomy interior is very Jaguar-like, even on the least expensive models. It’s very tastefully done with excellent materials and lots of colour choices. I found the rig very comfortable to drive and it’s certainly a vehicle that could be driven 1000 km or more in a matter of hours without discomfort – a true ‘grand tourer’ to be exact. Cargo space is very good and the rearmost seatbacks can be folded down to create even more space. Buyers can opt for a very large touch screen for various functions, including navigation. Tests have proven that the F-Pace offers more space than almost all its main rivals.
Just recently, Jaguar announced its concept electric I-Pace which uses the basic F-Pace platform but upgrades sportiness with different bodywork, emphasized by a lowered roofline and a coupe-like profile. Jaguar has promised that we’ll see the I-Pace on the road in 2018.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four doors and hatch crossover/SUV
ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel or 340 and 380 V-6 engines
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 5.5-secs (V-6)
PRICE: $49,900 to $66,400 MSRP