Jaguar setting the Pace
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DRIVEN PUTS JAGUAR’S ‘PRACTICAL SPORTS CAR’ TO THE TEST IN MONTENEGRO
It’s a product that’s not only changing the public perception of Jaguar but also changing its customers, so the global launch of the all-new F-Pace crossover had to be just as impressive.
The company headed to Montenegro, bordering Albania and Serbia, hunkering in it at a former fishing village that is now a famous five star resort, and hosting international media for five weeks.
The Aman Sveti Stefan resort set the tone for the vehicle; sure the F-Pace may technically be an SUV but within the Jaguar Land Rover group there are a host of tough off-roaders – from the Range Rover to the Land Rover Discovery Sport — to satisfy the adventurous motorists.
Instead Jaguar is calling the F-Pace a “performance crossover” and “practical sports car”, and though the SUV tackled some rough terrain and dicey roads during the launch in Montenegro, the brand is instead expecting the likes of the Aman resort guest to be the buyers of the vehicle.
The F-Pace arrives in New Zealand mid-year with four variants. The range will start with the Prestige (priced from $95,000), to the R-Sport (add $5000), the $125,000 S and the limited First Edition ($165,000).
The Prestige is paired with a 2-litre, four cylinder turbo diesel engine with 132Kw of power and 430Nm of torque.
Standard equipment across the range includes leather seats, electric front seats, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, 8in touchscreen display, power tailgate and parking aids. All models have an eight-seed automatic transmission.
The R-Sport has three powertrains available: the 2-litre diesel from the Prestige; a 3-litre, V6 turbo diesel (221kW/700Nm) or a 3-litre V6 supercharged petrol (250kW/450Nm), with both 3-litres costing $115,000.
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With only 1700 available worldwide, New Zealand gets five First Edition F-Paces that come in the distinctive Caesium Blue (as pictured here) or Halcyon Gold.
The First Edition sits on 22in wheels that really suit the wide wheel arches, while the rest of the F-Pace fleet have 19in or 20in tyres.
First Edition models are powered by the 3-litre supercharged petrol engine that’s also found in the F-Type sports coupe. Unfortunately, unlike the F-Type the F-Pace doesn’t have the sports exhaust system that produces that alluring crackling noise when in full force.
The F-Pace started its life as the C-X17 concept vehicle before taking on more F-Type characteristics, especially the rear tail lights. It also has coupe-like styling at the rear that does hinder the vision especially when adding large C-pillars.
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. With the dimensions of 4731mm long, 2175mm wide and 1667mm high, while weighing 1595kg, it sits in the medium SUV category.
Its competition is BMW’s X3, Audi’s Q5 and Mercedes-Benz’s GLC in the premium SUV segment, plus the Land Rover Discovery Sport. But its target is the Porsche Macan.
And, still focusing on the rear of the F-Pace, there is the fabulous option of the activity key wristband, a fitbit-looking device that solves the dilemma of where to hide your car key when surfing, running or hiking.
You place the activity key on the ”J” of the Jaguar name badge on the boot and it locks the car for you.
It’s such a smart device that I’m surprised other vehicle manufacturers haven’t thought of early but you can bet the competitors are working on something similar right now.
Day one was spent in the impressive First Edition with the 22in tyres ideal for inland Montenegro with its often pitted roads and daredevil local drivers who love to overtake on blind corners and ignore the 80km/h speed limit.
Day 2 started in the R-Sport supercharged petrol for the drive to the Black Mountain regional park before moving into the 2-litre diesel R-Sport for the mountain pass stone and rock road and the infamous 25 hairpin cornered Lovcen Mountain road.
The mountain pass unfortunately showed up the F-Pace’s off-road weakness. Sure, using the All Surface Progress Control (ASPC), we ”climbed” down a ramp off a dam on day one, and day two’s brunch break saw me inch up and down a steep muddy incline. The ASPC functions like low-speed cruise control and all the driver needs do is steer. So if you’re a nervous off-road driver you can let the F-Pace do the work.
But after an hour of slow driving on the rock pass, being shaken up for most of that hour, the F-Pace showed it’s best suited for those small off-road trips.
Instead the company is adamant that the F-Pace is a performance vehicle along the lines of the Macan — and they have their sights set on the Porsche.
The F-Pace’s project manager and chief engineer Andy Whyman told Driven at the Montenegro launch that the SUV had to be just right to match the Porsche.
“We are taking the fight to the Macan,” Whyman said.
The company expects 90 per cent of customers for the model will be new to the Jaguar brand, with one out of three buyers women. Whyman said China and North America were the largest markets for the F-Pace. The vehicle is already on sale in the UK.
“Pedestrians were stopping to take photos when they were crossing the road, and when the traffic lights turned green I couldn’t go — with cars tooting their horns behind me — because people were still standing in front of the F-Pace taking photos with their phones.”
It’s that sort of reaction that Whyman hopes will continue globally.