Auckland at Pace by night: Jaguar New Zealand shines a light on its new SUV
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Jaguar F-Pace R-Dynamic HSE P400 MHEV
- Vastly improved refinement
- Slick new interior and infotainment
- An SUV for people who like driving
- Doesn’t look a whole lot different
- Bewildering eight-model F-Pace range
- Big price jump from MHEV to PHEV
An important part of our job at DRIVEN is attending new-model launches. Individual brands get journalists together to get a first taste of new vehicles, the idea being that everybody gets equal access to the same information and drive experience.
Well, that’s partly the idea. The other part is that brands sometimes put on quite a show or take you to quite a location, in an effort to make a big impression.
For that reason we don’t tend to go big on writing about the mechanics of car-launch events, unless the activity/location is particularly pertinent to the machine. Because we’re a car publication and we reckon you’d rather know about the vehicle than the pre-dinner sightseeing.
Maybe it’s just that we haven’t been out much over the past year, but Jaguar New Zealand’s recent launch for the facelifted F-Pace is worthy of mention. The company did something a little different last month, by hosting a drive through the near-deserted streets of Auckland at night, starting out from the Sofitel Hotel in the Viaduct.
We’ve done similar events overseas – mostly in countries where the traffic is chronic enough that you can’t really be guaranteed of getting anywhere much in daylight hours.
In fact, that’s where the inspiration for this event came from. Night drives for media and customers are popular in Singapore and Hong Kong, which is what provided the template for this Jaguar excursion: a 10pm-midnight run through the central city, over the Harbour Bridge to the North Shore and then South again, back to the CBD via Mission Bay in the East.
In Hong Kong, drives generally go from midnight-2am, which is a bit past our bedtime obviously. Or maybe Auckland just isn’t quite that busy.
This type of event might be on the cards for customers as well – although media were the test pilots for the Kiwi F-Pace experience.
“This is about reimagining how we do things,” says Jaguar NZ general manager Steve Kenchington.
“We’d love to be able to do it for customers. People have more time [at night] to enjoy the drive, instead of thinking about work or having to give up a weekend.”
That goes for motoring writers as well.
Speaking of reimagining, it’s now well known that Jaguar will be a fully electric brand from 2025, so this is really the last blast for F-Pace in all its combustion-engined glory.
If that suggests F-Pace is already yesterday’s news, customers don’t seem to be worried, says Kenchington.
“What we’re finding is that there’s more enquiry on Jaguar now leading up to the all-electric age, because there’s a short window of time to buy a combustion engine.”
As Jaguar’s first real SUV, F-Pace helped redefine the brand in 2017. Jaguar NZ reckons the updated model will stir up enough interest to claim 40 per cent of its sales.
So what of the facelift? Well, it was too dark to see, really. But apparently there’s a new look front and rear, with fancy slimline LED lights and the R-Dynamic design package now standard across the Kiwi range. Don’t confuse that with the actual trim levels, though: S, SE and HSE, plus the thunderous supercharged V8 SVR (now with an extra 20Nm and tweaked transmission).
The SVR remains hugely popular (up to 40 per cent of F-Pace sales) and Jaguar is continuing with two diesels: the new 150kW/430Nm D200 and a 221kW/650Nm D300 borrowed from the Land Rover Defender.
But there is a nod to the marque’s future with the new F-Pace P400e Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), which pairs a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four with an electric motor for 60km zero-emissions range (including DC fast charging for the battery) and total system outputs of 297kW/640Nm. But it doesn’t come cheap, starting at $149,900.
The new P400 (sans the “e”) is a mild hybrid with a 48-volt power system. Despite the shared number on the tailgate, it packs a turbocharged/supercharged petrol six that’s good for 294kW/500Nm. Start price is $135,900.
We drove the P400 and entry P250 (184kW/365Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder, from $99,900) through the Auckland night - albeit not very far, sticking to motorways and urban streets.
But it was the ideal environment to experience the biggest change in F-Pace: the cabin. There’s been a major quality and technology upgrade, the centrepiece of which is the huge 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment screen that’s next-level in terms of sharpness and speed. The latter is a welcome change from the previous Jaguar setup, which looked pretty but was infuriatingly sluggish; the new system has more processing power and a dedicated battery.
The car is “live”, with over-the-air updates and a “Hey Jaguar” voice assistant to do your bidding. Within reason.
The dreaded rotary gear selector has also been replaced by something more conventional.
The P250 is certainly sprightly, but the effortless urge and soundtrack of the P400 makes it feel a lot more special. The eight-speed automatic is also decidedly more syrupy with the six’s extra torque, although the four can save you $36,000!
What’s common to both is outstanding refinement. All models from SE upwards have Active Noise Cancellation (drawing data from microphones in the wheel arches) and Engine Order Cancellation, which plays the opposite phase to the annoying noises through the car’s Meridian sound system to help keep the peace. It really works.
All this talk of SUVs and it’s easy to forget that sedans were once a Jaguar staple. Many of the upgrades to F-Pace also carry through to the XF, but the downward spiral of all things with boots means XE and XF together will account for just five per cent of Jaguar NZ’s volume this year.
How long until Jaguar sedans simply disappear into the night? Kenchington says there’s a desire to continue with them “from a factory perspective”, although the next-generation pure-electric XJ has already been cancelled.
Could they rise again? “You see in pure-electric that there’s more interest in sedans, so it might be that there’s a resurgence. Many argue that I-Pace is more sedan than SUV and that’s been very strong.”
JAGUAR F-PACE R-DYNAMIC
ENGINES: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, petrol-PHEV or turbo-diesel, 3.0-litre turbo/supercharged six MHEV or turbo-diesel, 5.0-litre supercharged V8
POWER: 150kW/430Nm (D200), 184kW/365Nm (P250), 221kW/650Nm (D300), 294kW/550Nm (P400), 297kW/640Nm (P400e), 405kW/700Nm (SVR)
GEARBOX: Eight-speed automatic, AWD
0-100KM/H: 4.0-8.0 seconds
ECONOMY: 2.2-11.4 litres per 100km