If you had asked Jaguar in the ’80s to make an SUV, the good folks at Coventry would have probably called you something along the lines of a bloomin’ plonker and told you to sod off. But over the past decade, the demand for the SUVs around the world has grown drastically. So drastically, in fact, that it’s forcing manufacturers – those who’ve primarily been building sportscars, supercars and luxury sedans – to rethink their strategy. The strategy has worked so well for Porsche that it practically turned itsfortunes around. But the segment is already so crowded that to really be able to cut through the market, these companies need something that stands out from the crowd
Enter the Jaguar F-Pace. It’s the brand’s first representation in the SUV space, one they’re calling the most practical Jaguar sportscar. It happens to be damn good-looking too! It’s now here in India, and we put the R-Sport variant to the test to find out that it’s more than just a pretty face and holds true to Jaguar’s claims.
EXTERIOR AND STYLE
The F-Pace is not really a SUV, its design is more crossover, derived from the C-X17 concept. Buyers may be willing to accept an upright SUV body style from the likes of Bentley (Bentayga), the upcoming Project Cullinan from Roll-Royce, and of course the Range Rover from Land Rover. But coming from Jaguar, the design had to still mark its sporty DNA. The F-Pace then bears the stamp of two brands – that of Jaguar and its chief designer Ian Callum.
Strikingly similar to the recent additions to Jaguar’s model portfolio, the F-Pace borrows heavily from the design of the XE sedan and the new XJ. The familiar three-dimensional oval bonnet grille with its mesh and chrome lining, the headlamps with the J-shaped signature LED daytime running lights (DRLs) and the long bonnet have Ian Callum written all over them. In keeping with the F-Pace’s SUV flavour, the vehicle has slab-sided panels with subtle design lines. But its crossover features give it a stronger character especially the curved bonnet slab with the power bulge in the middle, and the sharply sloping roof line. If you didn’t take the design cues (and didn’t read the F-Pace brochure) that the new vehicle is inspired by the F-Type’s design, you will surely come to that conclusion when you see the tail-lamps in the crossover. The sleek, wraparound tail-lights in the F-Pace almost look like they have been lifted from the sports car.
With a compact tailgate, the rear of the crossover features a simpler design. The F-Pace’s crossover attributes get a boost from the 19-inch wheels, the strong rear haunches and the large air scoops at the front. The F-Pace has the ideal proportions for a crossover that needs to compete with rivals that are already well entrenched in the market. It is slightly larger than the Audi Q5’s and Porsche Macan’s dimensions, and smaller than the Cayenne and the Q7. With the brand’s, by now, trademarked use of aluminium architecture extending to the F-Pace too, this new vehicle is quite light. As much as 80 per cent of the F-Pace is made out of aluminium.
INTERIOR AND SPACE
While Jaguar has left no stone unturned to make the F-Pace exterior as attractive as possible, it did cut some corners with the interiors. The cabin inside, unfortunately, doesn’t feel as if you’re stepping into an Rs 90 lakh vehicle. There’s none of that experience of feeling special and pampered – something which we have all grown to expect from luxury SUVs. The F-Pace is based on the XE platform, so a lot of things are shared with this sedan. That’s why the interior is identical to the one in the XE. The overall layout is quite elegant. The steering wheel with integrated buttons, large infotainment system and the placement of the operational buttons are all well laid out. This infotainment system is home to some really nice interfaces, however, the touchscreen isn’t engaging and intuitive enough. The massive digital instrumentation feels good to look at, especially at the extreme left section. That’s where you get to see the basic version of the navigation system that is enormously helpful for long hauls. While we have spoken good things about the dashboard, let’s get to the disappointing bit – plastics. Unlike the dashboard, the plastics used on the lower half of the cabin isn’t great. In fact, it shouldn’t even be included in such an expensive vehicle. The placement of the windows and rear view mirrors switch are uncomfortably high. This is a result of the vehicle design, but it is possible to get used to it. Other bits like the rotary knob, storage space and automatic climate control are standard across the var The contrast coloured leather seats are high-mounted which offers good visibility of the road and the surroundings. The seats are large and offer great cushioning and comfort. It can be electrically adjusted too. However, it misses out on the lumbar support, which would have been appreciable for a sporty SUV like the F-Pace. The rear seats offer plenty of shoulder and headroom too. In fact, there is even decent leg room for a six-footer like me. These seats can be folded flat in 40/20/40 format to offer maximum flexibility. The rear passengers have dual-AC vents, two USB and a single 12V charging sockets to play with. The boot capacity is 650 litres, but the full spare wheel takes up much space, as a result of which, the boot looks quite small. However, you could get a whopping 1740 litres of luggage space, if you dispense with the second row altogether.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
Even though demand for petrol-powered luxury cars is on the rise, Jaguar has chosen to launch the F-Pace with diesel engines only, yes, you read that right, engines because the F-Pace is offered with two oil burners. Starting with the smaller displacement motor, it’s the 2.0-litre unit that is better known as the F-Pace 20d. Producing 177 BHP and 430 Nm, this powertrain is vocal and you can hear the diesel clatter at idle, something which only gets louder as you near the 5000 RPM redline. There is some lag low down so one needs to get past 1800 RPM to make good progress and the mid-range is strong with the surge in power sustaining till almost 4000 RPM.
The Jaguar F-Pace 30d is quite a different animal thanks to the V6 motor belting out 296 BHP and a rather impressive 700 Nm of twisting force. The result is immediate, this engine is more refined than the smaller 20d and is much more eager too in the low-end, despite peak torque coming in later than the 20d. There is no diesel clatter but the motor is vocal, in a sporty way which makes you want to push the car to its 5000 RPM redline, power tapering off post 4500 RPM. The mid-range is the strong suit with peak power coming in at 2000 RPM and that punch staying intact all the way past 4000 RPM.
To put it into numbers, the F-Pace 20d does the 0-100 km/hr sprint in a leisurely 10.59 seconds while the F-Pace 30D manages to hit the ton in just 6.82 seconds. We did not test the top speed of the cars but Jaguar claims that the F-Pace 20d will hit 208 km/hr while the F-Pace 30d will manage 241 km/hr. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox, offering smooth shifts but the cogs aren’t swapped at lightning speed when you need it, good thing though is, you can manually take control of things using the steering mounted paddles, although, the gearbox doesn’t respond with the same pace as BMW’s ZF or Audi’s S Tronic.
RIDE AND HANDLING
We’ve tried both the standard ‘passive’ suspension and the more sophisticated adaptive set-up. The latter comes as standard on the V6 engines, but costs extra on the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel.
The passive set-up is firm around town – with larger-than-standard alloy wheels exacerbating the problem – and while things improve with speed, the ride is still a bit busy on the motorway. On the plus side, there’s very little of the wallowy body bounce you might associate with old-school 4x4s along undulating country lanes.
The adaptive set-up is still better, though. Switch it to its most comfortable setting and it’s noticeably more supple than the passive suspension, although there’s still a firm edge over battered city streets.
If you want your SUV to scythe through bends more like a hot hatch on stilts than an old school 4×4 you’ll love the Jaguar F-Pace. It’s the way it flows through fast bends that impresses most; it may be lighter than most of its rivals, but this is still a 1.8-tonne SUV, and yet it genuinely feels as agile as many hatchbacks.
It’s only through really tight corners and sudden direction changes that you remember you’re driving something a bit taller. Even then the steering is always precise, building weight at just the right time and with the right consistency to reward you for your efforts. The only other SUV that handles this well is the pricier Porsche Macan.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conduct crash tests on Jaguar vehicles. Therefore, the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace is untested. The same is true of the Porsche Macan.
While both agencies do conduct crash tests on Mercedes vehicles, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC is untested at the time of this writing.Competitors that receive high marks from both agencies include the Volvo XC60 and the Acura RDX. Both SUVs receive a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS.
While the F-Pace does not come standard with any advanced driver safety systems, it has a full-suite of active safety equipment available. Upper trim levels come standard with features like blind spot monitoring, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go traffic assist. Also available is a 360-degree camera, park assist, and a system that scans traffic signs and can automatically adjust your speed. All F-Pace models are outfitted with Intelligent Speed Limiter, a warning system that is especially convenient when you want to ensure you’re not speeding.
If sportiness is what you prefer over luxury, the R Sport’s interiors and equipment list will impress, besides its likeable mix of performance, space and comfort. Pricing begins at 68.40 lakh rupees for the base ‘Pure’ variant powered by the 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder diesel motor. That’s rather impressive for the poise and presence the F-Pace commands. If you are looking to back that presence with performance, you need to look at the R Sport, priced at a significantly higher Rs 1.02 crore ex-showroom. And if that’s what you have in mind, we’d recommend the First Edition with adaptive suspension, priced at Rs 1.12 crore. Now to hope for Jaguar to launch the F-Pace S with the F-Type’s turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, 380PS petrol engine!