It is exhilarating on the road and sure-footed off the beaten track, but Ed Coles feels the luxury SUV is slightly let down by its eco wizardry
Jaguar joined the SUV market with the launch of the Jaguar F-Pace in 2015. Although popular, it’s been hovering under the countryman’s radar compared with some of its competitors and I see this as good enough reason to want to give it a try. I was impressed as the sleek F-Pace appeared in the driveway. The balance of sportiness and executive style is certainly eye-catching.
We’re looking at the new F-Pace P400e R-Dynamic SE, which — if the 21in wheels and R motif aren’t enough of a giveaway — is the sporty high-spec version. It’s all-wheel drive and comes with decent eco credentials as it’s a chargeable hybrid. I predict it will tick quite a few Shooting Times boxes.
Understated elegance comes to mind when taking in the F-Pace’s exterior. I like what Jaguar has done to make the generic SUV shape more appealing. The balance of curves, edges and fancy LED lights is pleasing and the silhouette is classy, with a hint of rugged sportiness.
Jaguar F-Pace in detail
The R-Dynamic comes with a few extra sporty trims worked into the large front grille. The chrome trims with Portofino blue metallic paint and extra styling work well together, while the privacy glass and large chrome wheels finish the job nicely.
When you crouch down to take in the drama of the front bumper, it’s clear the Jaguar F-Pace has an encouraging amount of ground clearance. With 213mm to play with, the F-Pace should be able to deal with a few ruts and bumps, though we may have to be careful of expensive batteries hidden beneath the plastic.
As expected, the important all-wheel-drive bits are safely covered, with only a few glimpses here and there. Independent multilink front and rear suspension with adaptive damping should keep us on the straight and narrow — and hopefully those big wheels and tyres should give us plenty of traction.
Underneath the large, curved bonnet, there is some modern witchcraft at work. The P400e has a combination of a two-litre petrol engine, driving and charging the battery, and an electric motor, giving us a combined 404bhp and 640Nm of torque. It’s more than enough muscle to haul the F-Pace about and tow two tonnes. It can be driven in electric mode up to 87mph, with a range of 33 miles. It takes one hour and 40 minutes to charge the battery to 80% from a 7kW wall box.
The combination of petrol and electric power is pretty spirited — it takes only five seconds for the F-Pace to get up to 60mph. With a top speed of 149mph, the R-Dynamic is, well, pretty dynamic. Combined with that all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox, things look promising.
On opening the boot, we’re greeted with a functional amount of space. Not an overwhelming amount, but certainly enough room for shopping and luggage, or a couple of dogs. I managed to load seven bags of wheat, which is OK, but a little underwhelming considering the overall size of the F-Pace. The rifle and shotgun squeeze in at a jaunty angle, with enough room for essentials.
The luxury and sporty theme continues inside, with opulent fully electric leather seats and matching interior. It’s modern without being too over the top. The mix of black leather trim and chrome has a high-end quality about it.
The interior is comfortable, with a hint of sportiness, and has all the usual comforts and gadgets to keep us amused. The central touchscreen operates all settings — and there are certainly one or two to play with. Connectable to every conceivable type of media and entertainment system, the F-Pace is fully loaded and pretty user-friendly. The 360-degree camera is next level, with multiple views available. It has an upgraded Meridian sound system with DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Jaguar F-Pace has four drive modes: rain/ice/snow, eco, comfort and dynamic. All pretty much do what they say on the tin. The usual safety and driving aids are present, far too many to list, but essentially if there’s a setting to keep you and your passengers alive, it’s got it.
As ever, the first test for the F-Pace’s suspension is my ridiculously potholed driveway. Although slightly sporty, it negotiated the craters without clunking or bottoming-out. The F-Pace holds the country lanes well and, despite its size, feels nimble through the twisty bits.
On the open road, it comes into its own, offering a smooth, comfortable ride. Cruising is an absolute pleasure. Selecting dynamic mode and initiating my heavy right foot launches the F-Pace through its eight-speed box, transforming the experience from cruising to exhilarating.
It performs well off the beaten track. The all-wheel-drive set-up is good and, despite the road tyres, it doesn’t struggle with traction. The F-Pace tackles the rutted woodland tracks with relative ease and the only thing holding it back was me.
I held off tackling some of the tighter wetter tracks, but it’s not a bad effort off-road. I’m not suggesting it’s the perfect feed-run vehicle but if you needed to go off-piste, you probably wouldn’t disgrace yourself.
I found the Jaguar F-Pace very capable and a lot of fun. Its eco credentials are pretty good but once the battery charge gets low, the fuel economy goes out of the window. The petrol engine is quite juicy without electrical support and in-driving charging seems to be less efficient at a lower charge.
The F-Pace R-Dynamic is a serious bit of luxury kit and rather pretty, too. It’s more than a match for its competitors, but what’s the price? The F-Pace starts off at £60,070, on the road. With a few extras on the R-Dynamic — plus a few optional extras, such as the panoramic roof, 21in wheels and other toys — it comes out at £65,385. It’s a lot of money but, for the level of kit and overall quality, it’s pretty good value. Jaguar simply needs to make the charging a bit better.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Jaguar
- Model F-Pace P400e R-Dynamic SE
- Power 404bhp, 640Nm of torque (combined, with motor)
- Top speed 149mph 0-60mph 5 seconds
- Emissions combined C02 49g/km to 57g/km
- Economy combined 130.2mpg to 112.5mpg
- Towing weight braked 2,000kg
- Ground clearance 213mm
Electric motor data
- Power 143bhp, 275Nm of torque
- EV range 33 miles