Like a lot of people I gasped a little bit when I heard Jaguar would be making an SUV – the first ever for the brand. Jaguar, long the purveyor of luxury saloons and sports cars, was about to put a toe into one of the most lucrative and popular segments of the market, but hardly the sexiest.
Yet I gasped again when I saw the pictures of this new Jag. The F-Pace was a thing of pure beauty even on the pages of a magazine – large, yes – but with styling every bit as evocative as a sports car.
The F-Pace must be one of the most anticipated new cars of recent years. It’s finally landed in Ireland. The F-Pace is classed as a premium mid-size SUV and Jaguar Ireland is pitching it as the ‘practical sports car’.
As such, the sporty BMW X4 and Porsche Macan are the core competitors, though the F-Pace has a considerably lower entry price – 2.0-litre diesel RWD models with a manual gearbox start from €44,100, AWD models from €47,800. Models with automatic gearbox or high performance V6 engines are pricier.
On a test drive, the F-Pace felt sporty and engaging. Even four wheel drive models operate as rear wheel drive vehicles in normal driving circumstances for more agility and fun behind the wheel, only switching to four wheel drive when the car senses the extra traction is needed. The F-Pace has an 80% aluminium structure to keep the overall weight of the car light, but rigid. Torque vectoring comes as standard, which improves cornering performance.
Engine options include the 2.0-litre 180PS Ingenium diesel, 300PS 3.0-litre V6 diesel and 380PS 3.0-litre V6 petrol from the F-Type sports car. The 2.0-litre diesel will meet the needs of most buyers and on a test drive it was quick, smooth and quiet. Mated to a manual transmission on RWD drive models, emissions are just 129g CO2 per km (motor tax €270 per year).
Inside there is seating for five and a huge boot of 650 litres. The cabin is modern luxury with a sports car feel. There are four trim levels – SE, Prestige, Portfolio and R-Sport – and standard equipment levels are high including 18” alloys, keyless start, cruise control, halogen headlights with daytime running lights, front fog lights, space saver spare wheel, four electric windows, dual zone climate control, analogue dials and 5” TFT full colour display, rear parking sensors, hill start assist, autonomous emergency braking, emergency brake assist, lane departure warning and electronic hand brake.
At the launch, the All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) was demonstrated. To make the most of the available grip, ASPC automatically controls the throttle and the brakes, enabling the vehicle to pull away smoothly: the driver just has to steer. ASPC functions between 3.6km/h and 30km/h, and the driver selects the desired speed using the cruise control switches. ASPC is compatible with rear- and all-wheel drive and is ideal for nervous or inexperienced drivers in low grip situations.
With sales of just under 500,000 cars globally in 2015, the F-Pace will boost Jaguar’s fortunes even more. Closer to home, the new F-Pace gives Jaguar Ireland access to a new burgeoning segment, where their sister brand Land Rover is already reigning supreme with the Discovery Sport.
It’s a segment rife with competition from Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, but the Jaguar’s competitive pricing, good looks and sporty pedigree give it every chance of success.
The F-Pace is in Jaguar dealers now.