The booming SUV market worldwide and in southern Africa has seen more and more competitors pop up for a piece of the action.
Not too long ago, prospective buyers of luxury soft-roaders could call on Mercedes, BMW or Land Rover. Then came Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Volvo and now, Jaguar.
That’s right, there’s a brand-new Jaguar model called F-Pace and it’s standing in a slick showroom near you, waiting to be taken on the road. However bizarre that may sound, it’s not even the end of the SUV madness, as Bentley and Lamborghini are also working on their respective soft-roaders. What next X Ferrari?
Speaking of the competition, some of them failed dismally at plastering their brand design on a large SUV shape. You know who I’m typing about, right? Well, Jaguar has done a simply superb job of giving the F-Pace its family genes while also blessing it with beautiful lines and great proportions. It looks stunning!
The F-Pace, which arrived at my home, was a 20d R-Sport model with silver paint and two-tone red/black leather cabin. As part of the sporty pack, you also get blacked-out chrome and exterior trim items as well as the choice of pitch-black rims. My personal opinion of black rims? They’re terrible.
Luckily, the F-Pace is available in another trim level with many normal, silver rims from 18 to 20 inches. You may also choose between two Turbo-Diesel engines (this one and a V6) as well as two angry supercharged petrol V6s. Those would’ve been my first choice as I somehow believe that a Jag should have a purring six-pot.
In fact, none of our testers or passengers enjoyed this car’s wheezy four-cylinder Diesel mill whose main advantages are purchase price (from R872 000) and claimed average consumption of 5.3L/100km. Jaguar alleges that its 132 kW or 430 Nm are good for 0-100 km/h in 8,7 seconds, but we only managed a pedestrian best of 9,54.
Other than a lack of speed, I also noticed an unrefined Diesel rattle through the steering at low speeds. On the upside, the low- and mid-range torque clout does a decent job, in conjunction with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, of getting you from A to B. Except perhaps when overtaking – which can take a while.
Jaguar dipped into cousin Land Rover’s parts bin while building the F-Pace - nothing wrong with that. In fact, it gave Jag a good starting point and they simply infused the car with their idea of dynamism, efficiency and refinement. The handling and steering of this car (considering its size) is quite astonishing.
The F-Pace sits, corners and turns in with the kind of precision that cries out for the big 280 kW V6 to chase hatchbacks up mountain passes. Then there’s the super comfortable, spacious and luxurious interior with modern infotainment, contemporary safety aids, a massive 650 F boot and – if you so wish – a full-size spare wheel.
My notes also tell of a gigantic infotainment screen with masses of media options and an equal amount of car settings and read-outs. The F-Pace instruments are completely digital as well and (hurray!) offer four different themes, a full map and many more options for getting the layout exactly to your liking.
Other goodies include the pulsating start button, animated gear knob and a three-way drive mode selector with cactus mode. Jokes – that’s a quasi-off-road setting for arming the intelligent, ESP-assisted all-wheel-drive system. Being a soft-roader, the F-Pace does not have low-range or lockable differentials.
While scouting for a photo and video location we traversed farm tracks, ditches, muddy puddles, a dam wall and wet grass without hassles. Thanks to 213 mm of ground clearance and clever traction control intervention, we never experienced more than a few churns from the decidedly road-biased tyres.
Right, so what have we learnt? Jaguar has arrived at the luxury SUV orgy a tad late, but with one of the best-looking contenders. It’s great to drive but we would advise splashing out for a V6 motor. This will drive its price into six figures because the car is fully imported from the UK and subject to our exchange rate.
That means the F-Pace is priced far beyond its natural rivals of Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC, instead landing slap-bang in the middle of their bigger brothers Q7, X5 and GLE. To my utter surprise, it almost matched those for size, specifications and power. Plus it’s more beautiful and exclusive than any of the above.
* Galimoto Media
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