In a buzzing world of crossovers, SUVs, CUVs and the like, let us welcome the latest entrant: the 2016 Jaguar F-Pace First Edition. Jaguar had given us a sneak peek way back in 2013 when it was called the CX-17 concept. The whole world went bonkers over the car, which looked absolutely stunning. Three years down the line, we have Jaguar launching the F-Pace, which pretty much maintains the looks of the CX-17 concept. So, does the new Jaguar have what it takes? We took the new feline for a quick spin.
Finished in a shade of Ultimate Black, the Jaguar F-Pace First Edition looks poised and clean. The 'First Edition' label is for all F-Pace models produced during the first year and will have some special features as described later in the write-up. Only 275 units of the 'First Edition' spec will be pushed out of the Jaguar assembly lines. The face is typically Jaguar-ish with a lot of XE or XF inspired grille and headlamp shapes. Even though it retains the looks of the 2013 concept car, the F-Pace fails to generate that rush of excitement when looking at a new car. The design is less aggressive and feels more purpose oriented.
Viewed from the rear three-quarters, the F-Pace looks very sporty with its tight overhangs and sleek tail lamp lights. The huge 22-inch forged wheels shod with 265/40 Pirelli tires are the biggest in its class and look absolutely stunning with its 15-spoke design and the grey finish. The flared wheel arches and sculpted rear bumper shouts character and performance. Twin exhaust pipes look a bit small for a performance SUV, but should suffice for the majority of owners. The rear diffuser finished in silver is an eyesore, especially on our black F-Pace. Would have looked like a million bucks finished in a darker shade or maybe some fake carbon fiber finish! The drooping roof spoiler has a hint of 'Evoque' to it but has no problem blending into the F-Pace geography. The profile of the F-Pace is clean without too many shaped character lines, which seems to be the design forte of the age. The steeply raked A-pillar and swooping rear pillar render coupe characteristics to the F-Pace design and enhance the visual dynamics. The wheel arches look jam packed with the 22 inchers in duty and matches the overall design geometry. Brake callipers are finished in bright red which contrasts the black shade on our test car. Gloss black side vent inserts are the 'in thing' this year and the Jaguar happily follows suit. The front end features a lot of mesh grills and very little plastic parts. The big central grill is flaunted by two equally aggressive air dams providing all the necessary aerodynamics and aesthetics. Bodywork is largely composed of aluminum, which improves rigidity and reduces weight. The headlamps are full-LED units with the signature 'J-blade' daytime lights and a pair of lovely fog lights adorns the face of the F-Pace. A bit of an eyesore again in the form of front slider plates finished in silver; I would love to have them in a shade of dark grey or black.
So, the Jaguar F-Pace looks its part. How does it drive? A quick ring to a friend and we decided to hit some winding hill climbs. The Jaguar F-Pace First Edition is loaded with the 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 petrol engine generating a pulse-raising 380 hp of power. This is the only petrol engine available on the 'First Edition' models and would be the one that performance-seekers would be after. Engine response is crisp right from the word 'go' and loves to be thrashed around. Switch off the audio system for the addictive supercharger whine! Exhaust is typical V6 soundtrack with not too much crackle and pops. The eight-speed transmission takes care of transferring this power to the front and rear wheels. Although rear wheel biased in normal conditions, the F-Pace can transfer up to 50 percent of the drive to the front wheels if the environment demands it. Under normal conditions, the rear wheel bias helps to improve agility especially through corners and quick lane changes. Steering feels nicely weighted and provides ample feedback for improving driver confidence. Throughout the hill climb, the F-Pace was frisky and handled well for a two-ton crossover. The double wishbone setup in front and integral link suspension on the rear ensures minimal body roll and gives the F-Pace car-like dynamics. Lots of aluminum parts have also been put into the suspension components for reduced unsprung weight and improved handling characteristics. A special mention to the sticky 22-inch Pirelli tires which were super grippy on corners, as well as during hard braking. These are exclusive to the 'First Edition' models and real world F-Pace samples may have more sane rubber sizes. Enhancing the driving experience is a great looking laser head-up display. It provides information such as speed, navigation directions and speed alerts in the direct line of sight with excellent clarity at any time of the day.
The interior is a quality place for four adults and a bit cramped for five. Jaguar's cosseting sports seats, as they are called, provide excellent support and are finished in soft-grain leather. Front and rear seats are adjustable for recline and all other usual parameters. One of the first things you note while settling into the F-Pace cabin is the nicely designed front door window armrests. They are beautifully contoured and provide the best arm support compared to any car I have driven. This feature would be very welcome for this part of the world where we need to endure long straights and the driver's left arm spends a great deal of time on the arm rests. The doors feature large sized bottle holders and lots of cubbyholes are available throughout the interior to fit all your knick-knacks. The entire cabin (except for the headliner) is finished in leather and metal finish, which may be reminiscent of XE and XF interiors. The headliner is covered in grey suede which houses the sliding panoramic roof, again a 'First Edition' exclusive. The heart of the infotainment system on the F-Pace is a 10.2-inch touchscreen interactive display with super fast response and a great navigation system. There are ten different ambient light colors available which further improve the in-cabin experience. The speedo and rpm dials are also a virtual display with good-looking graphics and all information available at a glance. Audio quality needs to be top-notch for a vehicle of this class and the 17 speaker 825W Meridian system takes care of it all.
Jaguar has finally wandered into the urban-crossover jungle with a very wary step. F-Pace is a very well made and well calculated move from Jaguar with oodles of tech and experience from the Land Rover files. Jaguar makes fast cars, Land Rover makes excellent SUVs. The F-Pace was manufactured inheriting characteristics of both with a slight bias towards the Jaguar DNA. It is a crossover meant to spend a large chunk of its life on the urban landscape than off-road terrain; and the F-Pace excels in it. My only request to the Jaguar boffins would be to sprinkle a bit more aggressiveness into the F-Pace design lingo and there would be no looking back!
Pros: Stylish exterior, sporty stance, elegant and spacious interior, exhaust note, good performance
Cons: Lack of freshness in the design, 22-inch wheels go crazy on bad roads
Rivals: Porsche Macan, Infiniti QX50, Maserati Levante, BMW X3, Audi SQ5
Engine: 3.0L V6 supercharged, 380 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 450 Nm @ 4,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, AWD
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 6 sec, top speed: 250 km/h, fuel consumption 12 L/100 km,
One word: adoration