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Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport 3.0d First Drive
The F-Pace is Jaguar's first ever SUV. The "delay" was apparently due to Jaguar not wanting to step on the toes of its stablemate Land Rover/Range Rover, whose line-up consists only of SUVs.
But the ever growing popularity of SUVs meant Jaguar could no longer afford to not be in the luxury SUV market. All its rivals, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and even Porsche, have numerous models in each SUV segment.
The F-Pace sits between the Porsche Macan and BMW's X3 and X4 SUVs in size, straddling the compact and mid-sized luxury SUV market.
There are a total of 12 variants to choose from, across four equipment levels priced between $74,340 and $120,415 plus on roads. There are three engines – a 2.0-litre diesel, a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel and a 3.0-litre supercharged petrol.
The model we drove was the mid-range R-Sport 3.0d powered by, you guessed it, the 3.0-litre diesel, borrowed from Range Rover. It's priced from $90,304 plus on road costs, although our test car came with $31,935 worth of optional extras that pushed the price over $120,000 on the road! This is, unfortunately, a trait of the Jaguar/Land Rover family – most recently seen with the astonishing options list of the Range Rover Evoque.
From the outside, the new F-Pace is unmistakably Jaguar – not surprising given design director Ian Callum says "every Jaguar should draw your eye from 200 metres away".
From the bold upright grille, clean lines across the body side, familiar fender vents and sleek roofline, this is one cool looking cat.
Inside, the F-pace feels familiar due to the classy, elegant design, borrowed in part from the XE and XF models. The F-Pace utilises much of the same switchgear, such as the rotary gear-selector dial, indicator stalks and window switches.
Watch our test drive of the new Jaguar F-Pace SUV:
The F-Pace is substantially bigger, especially in rear seat space, than its rivals. There is 650 litres of boot space (with the standard temp tyre) and it grows to over 1.8 metres in length with the rear seats folded.
Standard equipment on the base Prestige model includes 10-way electric front seats with memory, four-way electric lumbar adjustment, InControl Touch (SD) Navigation with eight-inch touchscreen, leather seats, front and rear parking sensors and rear camera, Meridian sound system with 11 speakers, keyless start, powered tail gate, tyre pressure monitoring, 19-inch silver alloy wheels, and space saver spare wheel.
Safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, hill launch assistance, trailer stability assistance and all-surface progress control.
Our test car featured the optional 10.2-inch InControl Touch Pro system ($2550) that uses Ethernet with a bandwith of 1GB/second for fast connection. Jag claims its technology is five times faster than competing technologies.
The F-Pace has some clever touches (unfortunately all are optional), such as the gesture tailgate for $1100 – you make a smooth kicking motion and the sensors recognise it and will trigger the opening or closing request.
The activity key is a great idea but is a $640 option! The waterproof, shockproof wristband is a segment first. It allows the key fob to be securely locked inside the vehicle while you wear the wristband. You can lock and unlock the vehicle by holding it in close proximity to the J of the Jaguar lettering on the tailgate. The one with our test car only worked intermittently though.
The automatic retracting side steps ($4435.20 option) are a great way to reduce drag when on the freeway but, given the car is not actually that high, they are really not necessary, especially at that price. They electrically retract under the car when the doors are closed and then extend out when the doors are opened.
Has Jag been able to stretch its sports car DNA to a high-riding SUV? The company thinks so. In fact, it claims the F-Pace is on par, if not better, than the current class benchmark, the Macan. That's a big call.
From behind the wheel, the F-Pace doesn't disappoint. Body control is excellent and the F-Pace is confident and sure footed on a tight and twisty mountain road. It has loads of grip thanks to the massive tyres and its all-wheel-drive system has a rear bias that adds to its sporty nature.
Like the F-Type AWD, the F-Pace features a torque-on-demand AWD system. Under normal driving conditions, all of the engine's torque is sent to the rear axle, maintaining a rear-wheel drive character. When greater traction is needed, the system ensures the right amount of torque is transferred to the front axle. This process takes no more than 165 milliseconds and is virtually unnoticeable to the driver.
The front differential is so fancy that even if both rear wheels were on polished ice (says Jag) there is enough torque transfer for the F-Pace to pull away using the front wheels only.
Our test car came with the optional Adaptive Dynamics pack and Configurable Dynamics (CD) that monitors body movement 100 times a second and wheel movement 500 times a second, to adapt the suspension to suit the conditions. CD enables the driver to change the throttle mapping, transmission shift and steering feel. For models equipped with the InControl Touch Pro premium infotainment system, drivers gain a stopwatch, G-meter and a map of accelerator pedal response. Why you'd want that in an SUV we're not sure.
Despite all the technological trickery, the ride is a bit jiggly and harsh at low speeds. Overall, though, it's still good – especially considering our test car had the largest wheels of the segment at 22 inches. On the freeway, it's a comfortable cruiser.
The diesel has plenty of get up and go, with 221kW of power and a massive peak torque of 700Nm of torque available from just 2000rpm.
Rear vision is not great due to the thick C-pillars and sharply raked rear windscreen. The rear camera picture doesn't give an accurate representation of distance, either. It's the first rear camera I've seen where the sides show a distorted part of the number plate.
Given Jag has had almost two decades to perfect the new model, it's disappointing the F-Pace is not a benchmark. Having said that, it's still a beautifully designed and engineered SUV that has the soul of its sports car stablemates, combined with space and practicality few of its rivals can match.
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|Model||F-Pace R-Sport 3.0d|
Head turning looks
Huge options list (our test car came with $31,935 worth of extras)
|Country of manufacture||UK|
|Priced from||$90,304 (plus on road costs)|
|Number of cylinders||6|
|Engine size||3.0 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||221 kW @ 4000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||7000 Nm @ 2000 rpm|
|Claimed fuel consumption||6.0 L/100km|
|CO2 Emissions||159 g/km|
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