Jaguar F-Pace joins the SUV cat fight
We’re the first NZ media to have week-long test of Jaguar’s SUV.
It may be Jaguar’s first foray into SUVs, but when the British-based company decided to join the world’s most popular model it did it with pizzazz.
With urbanised SUVs (aka crossovers aka soft-roaders) now making up close to 40 per cent of new vehicle sales globally, it’s an extremely conservative car manufacturer that decides to not join in the ever-increasing market.
While mainstream manufacturers have been offering all size of SUVs for a number of years, the premium brands are now joining in.
In last Saturday’s Driven, we featured the super-luxury offering from Bentley, the large Bentayga, which will be joined by the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Lamborghini Urus in the next few years.
Now it’s Jaguar’s turn to compete in the premium market with the F-Pace medium-sized SUV sitting alongside the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW’s X3 and X4, Audi’s Q5 and Porsche’s Macan.
Launched international in late April, the F-Pace has just gone on sale in New Zealand.
The range starts at $95,000 for the 2-litre diesel Prestige and topped out at $165,000 for the First Edition limited model, of which Jaguar NZ was allotted five, all of them have sold before arriving in dealerships.
The F-Pace joins the F-Type sports cars, plus XE and XF sedans as the British brand revitalizes its products with new modular platforms and technology.
At the international launch in Montenegro, that Driven attended, Jaguar’s marketing team was calling the F-Pace a ‘performance crossover’ and ‘practical sports car’.
And at the local launch, Jaguar NZ’s brand manager, Paul Ricketts agreed with that description for the product.
“It’s going to be an extremely important vehicle for us,” he said.
He estimated that the F-Pace would make up 50 per cent of the company’s sales in New Zealand, especially by next year when he should have more quota from the Jaguar factory.
But in the meantime he has three models and six variants to tempt Kiwis to try a bit of British premium product.
The large front grill, J blade daytime lights and signature Jaguar rear lights there is no mistaking its heritage but with the muscular bonnet and slopping roof and rear spoiler you could mistake it for a Macan – and that’s what Jaguar HQ in the UK was hoping.
The F-Pace’s project manager and chief engineer, Andy Whyman, told Driven at the Montenegro launch that its SUV had to just right to match the Porsche.
“We are taking the fight to the Macan,” said Whyman.
The F-Pace is the third model from Jaguar to use the new aluminium architecture modular system, giving it significantly reduced weight and fuel efficiency. It also borrows the engines from the XE and XF range but the company says the only components it shares with it’s Land Rover ‘twin’, the Discovery Sport, is “a few bolts”, according to Whyman.
All the F-Paces are 4731mm long, 2175mm wide and 1667mm high and weigh from 1775kg with all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatics transmission with Jag’s sequential shift and steering wheel mounted paddles.
Inside the F-Pace has a similar front console to the rest of the Jaguar fleet, with the same rotary dial for the gears to the user-friendly touchscreen infotainment unit.
All the line up for the New Zealand market get heated front seats, an 8in touchscreen display, rear view camera, and as standard one of the niffiest new products in the motoring world - an activity key band.
The activity key looks like a fitbit, and if you fancy a surf, paddle board or a bush walk, you can leave your keys in the F-Pace and lock the vehicle with the key band by placing it on the ‘J’ on the Jaguar badge on the boot.
Genius. I reckon car manufacturers will be rushing to produce their own version of the key band as not only does it work well, looks the part but also means no more fossicking in bags or pockets to open to the boot when you’re loading shopping into the back.
The F-Pace activity key.
And that back space is impressive with more room at many of its competitors, especially motoring archrival number one, the Macan.
The F-Pace wins when it comes to boot space with an impressive 650-litres over the Macan and X4’s 500l, the GLC’s 550l and Q5’s 540l.
Our lineup starts with the Prestige sitting on 19in alloys with a 2-litre, four cylinder turbo diesel engine producing 132kW of power and 430Nm of torque.
Next in the line-up are three versions of the R-Sport, with the 2-litre diesel ($100,000), 3-litre diesel (221kW/700Nm) and 3-litre V6 supercharged petrol (250kW/450Nm), both are priced at $115,000.
The R-Sport has configurable dynamics plus little luxury touches inside and out.
The two S models are the 3-litre V6 turbo diesel ($125,000) and the thumping 3-litre V6 supercharged turbo petrol ($130,000) that produces 280kW/450Nm.
The S lineup gets adaptive dynamics, red brake calipers and automatic high beam assist.
The F-Pace line up had a variety of packs to add to the SUV, including advanced parking assist, luxury (mood lighting and premium carpets) and cold climate extras including a heated steering wheel.
Driven was the first New Zealand media to have the F-Pace for a week-long road test, opting for the S 3-litre petrol. Our model had been specced up to $144,950 thanks to 20in five-spoke blade alloys, sports front seats, head-up display, black pack (black exterior finishes) and reclining power rear seats.
During the Montenegro launch, we were limited to road speeds of up 80km/h and some below average road conditions.
At the launch, we tested the F-Pace’s off-road ability on the Black Mountain stone and rock road and used the Jaguar’s All Surface Progress Control (ASPC), to ”climb” down a ramp off a dam and inch up and down a steep muddy incline. The ASPC functions like low-speed cruise control and all the driver needs do is steer.
But around Auckland, the only off-roading I did was for the photo shoot around Muriwai as I already knew the vehicle’s SUV ability.
Instead I took delight in hearing that guttural supercharged turbo engine and while it ate through the petrol (with me getting around the early 20s rather than the 12.2l/100km factory figures for urban driving) it was worth it just to hear the roar.
Handling in urban environments, the F-Pace’s low centre of gravity promoted dynamic driving with firm cornering and agility when on the motorway when it comes to quickly moving lanes.
But the most fun had to be at motor onramp lights, with the V6 engine’s pick up smooth and swift, and the automatic transmission looping up through the gears in optimum revs.
While Jaguar NZ will be aiming at families as the F-Pace consumers, my test car found favour with my women friends.
One friend has been keen on the F-Pace since its international launch for herself and her partner, so I took them for a test drive. Her partner at 6foot3in easily fitted in the back seat and was impressed with the leg room, especially as my friend is tall and had the front passenger seat pushed back.
Female friend number two already owns a European medium SUV, and after a stint as passenger in the F-Pace was impressed with the Jaguar’s styling inside and out and was keen to trade-in her current crossover for the Brit.
I was won over by the engine, Jaguar’s user-friendly interior and the space but a downside I could see was being an early adopter in a conservative motoring market. Will the F-Pace hold its value? Or will Kiwis clamour of it as Porsche has found with the Macan?
For Jaguar NZ, the main concern for the next 12 months will be supply from the factory. With Brexit happening just days after the local launch here of the F-Pace, the company was asked at the media conference whether it was worried about grey imports from the UK as the Kiwi dollar was doing well against the poorly pound.
Ricketts wasn’t concerned because demand is so high in the UK that not many Poms will be eager let go of their F-Pace. And after driving the S model for a week I could understand why.
Jaguar F-Pace S
|Engine:||3l V6 supercharged turbo petrol|
|PLUS:||Jaguar DNA – from engine to interior|
|MINUS:||Will it hold its value like the Macan?|