This is Jaguar's first attempt at making an SUV and a sporty one at that. If not anywhere else in the world, a sporty SUV makes lot of sense in a country like India due to our rough driving environment. They are practical, can tackle the worst of terrain, have powerful engines and are loads of fun over a twisty road. The Porsche Macan which was launched in India is the reigning king as far as performance and dynamics are concerned and the F-Pace has its work cut out if it has to challenge this German SUV. But going by their recent products like the XE sedan, Jaguar seems to have what it takes to be the new benchmark in its segment. We went to stunning Montenegro to find answers.
The exterior of the F-Pace look typical Jaguar as it is inspired from the XE sedan and the F-Type sportscar. The large gaping grille and the slim headlamps are very similar to the Jaguar XE and the large front bumper with wide air intakes give the F-Pace loads of presence. In profile, the tapering roofline, the 20-inch rims and the flared wheel arches makes it look sporty even when standing still. From the rear, the F-Pace is heavily inspired from the F-Type with the similar looking stylish tail lamps and a heavily raked windscreen. Overall, the F-Pace looks well-proportioned and very striking whichever way you look at it.
The family resemblance follows in the F-Pace's cabin too. The dashboard, steering wheel, infotainment screen placement, controls and trims are more or less shared with the XE sedan. The modern digital instrumentation is all-new though and is similar to the Audi's virtual cockpit theme. Though it works well it's not as intuitive as the Audi's system. There are some hard plastics present too especially in the lower half of the cabin. But other than that overall material quality is quite good and the F-Pace's cabin is a nice place to be in.
The high mounted front seats offer a good driving position and the visibility all round is quite decent. But, like with all aluminium construction cars to aid body rigidity the A-pillars are quite thick and the large mirrors obstruct your vision especially at junctions. The front passengers are seated in supreme comfort;thanks to the deep contours the lateral support is first rate. There is more than enough space at the rear too and except for the low set seat, the bench itself is comfy and well shaped. But the bulging backrest and high central tunnel makes it best for three at the back . To aid practicality the rear seats split 40/20/40. In terms of storage the F-Pace boasts of big door pockets, a large glovebox and even the centre console provide plenty of space for odd and ends.
Jaguar has heavily revamped the touchscreen Infotainment too. Christened the InControl Touch Pro the display now is a much larger at 10.2-inches and is powered by a powerful quad-core processor. The user interface and graphics now are much more modern but the touchscreen could have been more responsive. You also get Jaguar's Activity Key. It is a waterproof, shockproof wristband with an integrated transponder, which is a great feature if you like going to the beach or are into adventure sport.
The F-Pace will be the first JLR product in India to get the new generation Ingenium 2.0-litre diesel engine. But this aluminium motor doesn't make the best of first impressions as it comes to life with some shudder and settles into a gravelly idle. Even on the move you can't get away from the fact that there is a diesel motor under the hood and SUVs like the Audi Q5 are much better in this respect.
It does quieten a bit once on the move though, and the healthy 177.5bhp feels adequate for this 1.8 tonne vehicle. Its delivers power in a smooth, linear manner and it has a lot of elasticity too. Thanks to the peak torque of 400Nm which comes at a low 1750rpm, there's plenty of grunt right from the beginning and it pulls strongly to about 3800rpm post which the power tails off. Thanks to the gear ratios that are closely stacked on the 8-speed auto, the motor never feels out of breath and a tall 8th gear makes it good at cruising too.
But being a sporty SUV a larger 3.0-litre V6 makes the F-Pace much more potent and likable. For starters the V6 oil burner is much more refined and its 296bhp of punch makes it seriously quick in a straight-line. Throttle response is quite good for an engine with a big Turbo and there is a strong linear surge even when you mash the throttle. Even when worked hard the motor remains remarkably refined and this combined with the strong grunt makes the more powerful F-Pace a great long distance tool. Straight-line performance is fine but the F-Pace is designed to thrill you around corners too. To do just that Jaguar has given the F-Pace a near perfect 50:50 weight distribution and the aluminium construction has helped keep the weight down too.
As a result from behind the wheel the F-Pace feels more like a big hatchback than a SUV. Long quick corners is where the Jag SUV really excels and thanks to the quick accurate steering the F-Pace is great fun around bends. With 90 percent of the power going to the rear wheels under normal circumstances, the F-Pace especially on the slippery rain-hit tarmac of Montenegro was ready to wag its tail too. It's only in the tighter stuff that you feel the weight of this SUV as it induces quite a bit of understeer.
The icing on the cake is the way the F-Pace felt even on the worst of surfaces Montenegro had to offer. It rides with maturity and even bad patches of tarmac are dispatched easily. The F-Pace does have an underlying layer of firmness, but is well judged and it never gets uncomfortable. You also get Eco, Normal and Sport setting to alter the suspension stiffness, gearbox and throttle response. The best part is all these modes are usable in most conditions which makes the F-Pace all the more impressive.
|Variant||2.0 diesel||3.0 diesel|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||177.5 @ 4000||296 @ 4000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||430 @ 1750||700 @ 2000|
|Gears||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||60||60|
|Touchscreen infotainment system||Yes|
|Navigation with 3D maps||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||S Diesel||GLE450 AMG||3.0 diesel|
|Engine Capacity||3.0-litre diesel||3.0-litre petrol||3.0-litre|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||245 @ 4000||367 @ 5500||296 @ 4000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||600@1750||520 @ 1800||700 @ 2000|
|Gears||7-speed dual clutch automatic||9-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||60||93||60|
|Tyre size||265/45/R20||275/45 R21||265/40/R22|
Amongst the two diesels which will be launched initially, our pick will be the larger 3.0-litre V6 as it makes the F-Pace properly quick and the motor is much more refined too. The F-Pace should come to our shores by the end of 2016. As it will be an import we expect its price to be around Rs 90-95 lakh on-road. For that money you get an SUV which has ample pace, is great to drive, it has a well-appointed comfortable cabin and being an SUV,practicality great too.