Jag’s first-ever SUV may have pulled up beyond fashionably late to the party – the same soiree that’s been keeping certain European marques afloat for a decade – but it arrives ready, with immediate presence, sharp styling and a responsiveness that’s attractive and brutish in equal measure (think Tom Hardy in Bronson). Jaguar’s F-PACE is the most attractive SUV on the market – set to end Porsche’s ownership of the fast family-hauler segment.
ENGINE – The 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V6 produces 221 kW and 700Nm, with a 0-100km/h time of 6.2 seconds – not bad for something that’s destined to have the back seats stacked with kids between runs to the shops. The alluring 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine (as found in the F-TYPE) is available in two states of tune – 250kW/450Nm and 280kW/450Nm – with respective zero to 100km/h times of 5.8 and 5.5 seconds. It’s rumoured that a V8 will make an appearance soon. Here’s hoping.
STYLING – “A svelte car with attitude,” is how Jaguar design guru Ian Callum describes the F-PACE, but it’s also familiar, like a jacked-up, yawning XE. That’s not to say it isn’t attractive – it’s head-turningly so, as we discovered on our drive down the NSW South Coast, thanks to the Jag grille and traditional sports-car proportions of long bonnet, low roof and forged alloy wheels – 22 inches of optional extra and a first for the brand. It’s also worth noting that the F-PACE sits proportionally alone, bigger than a Porsche Macan and Range Rover Evoque, and smaller than the Audi Q7 and RR Sport.
DRIVING – “You know that dad who lavishes his kids with love all week, only to brutalise his opposition on the rugby field of a weekend? Well, that’s the F-PACE. It’s a safe, high-riding vehicle that’ll stand out at school pick-up, before thumping and snarling through every corner on the long way home. Jag execs insist it’s also a decent off-roader (of course they do), but what we learnt was that it’s light and responsive and that, really, every car should come with a HUD. The one drawback is its limited rear vision -while there are cameras, and side mirrors with blind spot detection, it still feels tight.
INTERIOR – This is a luxurious, comfortable and roomy cabin – draped in soft-grain leather – that features everything expected at this price point (seat warmers and adaptable, personal climate control). The forward setup will be familiar to anyone who’s spent time in either an XJ or XE – cue the pop-up rotary gear-shifter – with brilliant, digitised instruments that adapt to each driving mode, as well as what has to be the most intuitive infotainment system ever, run via a 10.2-inch touchscreen. It means connecting via Bluetooth is easier than watching Em Rata dance. Nude.