Port Elizabeth - Jaguar is synonymous with beautiful, sporty designs, a rich racing heritage and stirring emotions.
Partner Land Rover however has cultivated an image of off-road prowess and highly capable vehicles. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) combines the best of both automakers and has launched a new model that might be the epitome of its practical cars - the new F-Pace.
There has been an incredible amount of hype about Jaguar's first SUV since it was revealed at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show as the C-X17 concept car. And, with good reason. There is loads to cover regarding the performance SUV, which, the company says, represents a turning point for the brand.
Despite a challenging global economy affected by 'Brexit', the weak Rand, and the local economy bordering on a recession, Jaguar South Africa is confident that the F-Pace will undoubtedly do well.
While it's an all-wheel drive vehicle, it's not just a 4x4. Unlike its Range Rover customers who are not using the plush SUV for its intended purpose (read: off-road prowess), F-Pace customers will take full advantage of its all-round practicality.
This is what could possibly make the F-Pace a winner as its driving dynamics are extremely competitive for the type of local drivers and its roads.
It's an awesome drive thanks to all the new technology, and it has a huge boot. It's spacious and has enough charge and USB ports for the entire family.
Although styling, and many other aspects, are inspired by the automaker's F-Type, the F-Pace is distinctively Jaguar, thanks to its "powerful rear haunches", fender vents and rear tail lights.
It derives its light-weight suspension from its F-Type sibling and features aerodynamics akin to a performance sedan. It weighs 1775kg, making it only 185kg heavier than the new XF.
It has a huge bonnet, and this, says Jaguar's F-Pace vehicle dynamics engineer James Matthews, is because the entire cabin has been moved back to make the SUV look much longer and contribute towards its aggressive stance on the road.
"Even the air vents on the front fender has been elongated to add length to the front of the car," says Matthews.
Jaguar says the longer wheelbase means that five adults can sit rather comfortably in the car. There's a total of three 12V charge sockets and four USB ports so the kids won't fight about whose mobile device needs to be charged first.
The cabin is roomy, the fascia is neat and clean and there's a 26cm display touchscreen for the InControl Touch Pro system. It has sharp graphics, commands are responsive and the navigation system can "learn your commute, offers true door-to-door guidance and can even advise others of your arrival time".
Navigation can also be shown in 3D, in the 32cm HD virtual instrument cluster. Materials are soft to the touch and feel plush, and there are several storage compartments. It might be a SUV but the F-Pace still exudes a type of luxury which Jaguar is synonymous with.
The boot is humongous, with 1553 litres of space available when the rear seats are folded flat. There's even a full-sized spare wheel, which is only available in South Africa as standard.
The 40:20:40 rear seats are comfy and spacious, but what's even better is that you can opt for the seats to recline and heated as extra goodies.
Under the bonnet
The F-Pace range was launched with three engine options: a 2.0-litre turbodiesel (132kW), 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel (221kW) and a top of the range 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol in 250kW and 280kW derivatives.
There's also a limited edition, called the 'First Edition' models. And, when I say limited, I mean that there are only about 2000 being built globally and SA has been allocated about 18 of them. This special version has unique paint, trim, and wheel options such as 22" Double Helix 15-spoke wheels, adaptive dynamics, full-LED headlights, gloss black vents and a panaromic roof. Inside the car, treats such as soft leather seats with light Oyster twin stitching.
Jaguar SA's managing director, Richard Gouverneur, told Wheels24 that perhaps two or three years down the line, these options might be included in later model year derivatives.
The full F-Pace includes four models: F-Pace Pure, F-Pace R-Sport, F-Pace S, and the above-mentioned F-Pace First Edition. All models come with Jaguar’s eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive as standard.
How does it drive?
I managed to drive the 2.0-litre with 132kW/430Nm and the beefier 3.0-litre diesel 221kW/700Nm models. While the entry-level model has enough power for mundane driving, and even the occasional gravel driving, the latter models torque output won me over. It's suspension also felt a bit stiffer than the 2.0-litre on the road.
That monstrous 700Nm makes overtaking at any time absolutely delightful. It could even be a bit scary for novice drivers, but with that kind of power figures on tap you could even overtake a row of trucks on open roads.
The 3.0-litre petrol S derivative is something else. It has a throaty rumble and makes you want to push the throttle to its limit at every available opportunity. It's quick off the line, and could make any one want to misbehave behind the wheel.
The F-Pace really does have the driving dynamics of a performance sedan, and hardly even feels like an SUV but it's loaded with driving aides that makes this car enjoyable to drive.
It uses a similar double wishbone front suspension as the F-Type, which makes it feel quite agile and steering is responsive. Handling feels balanced and refined.
Stick it in a tight bend, push its pace off-road, and even at high speeds on a straight, the F-Pace handles superbly in any situation. There's no uncomfortable feeling or that it won't sit on the road.
The only little niggles which bothered me was the wind noise due to the roof rails fitted to one of the models, and also the steering wheel seemed to vibrate ever so slightly in the more powerful derivatives.
Fully loaded driver tech
The automaker claims: "The F-Pace's torque on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD) system is its most sophisticated yet, and has the highest torque capacity. It features Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD) which preserves rear-wheel drive agility and handling character but can seamlessly transfer torque to the front wheels to exploit the performance benefits of extra traction, on all surfaces and in all weathers."
Jaguar also says the configurable dynamics setting allows the driver to select dynamic or normal modes for throttle mapping, transmission shift strategy, and steering feel.
Then there's All Surface Progress Control for tricky conditions, this system automatically controls the brakes and the throttle leaving the driver just to steer. The ASPC functions between 3.6km/h and 30km/h, while the driver selects the speed using the cruise control buttons.
The Adaptive Surface Response reads the surface of a road and then enables the AWD system to be more effective by 'optimising powertrain and dynamic stability control mapping transmission shift strategy and the steering feel'.
Oh, the options!
The F-Pace comes with a long list of optional goodies. Some to mention is a roof rack, automatic sliding door-sills (which will cost you a nifty R30 000), Jaguar rim caps and valve caps, paint options which cost from R3900 to R30 900, various rim options including 22" rims of R60 300, heatable steering wheel (R2900)... the list is endless.
Probably the most awesome option is Jaguar's new Activity Key in the form of a wrist watch. And, it only costs an extra R4300. This special 'key' allows the actual key fob to be locked away safely in the vehicle while you play a rugby match, catch a surf or play some hoops without having to worry about losing your key or your valuables, such as a mobile phone or even your wallet.
This waterproof, shockproof wristband has an integrated transponder. When you lock the Activity Key, it will disable any keyfobs left inside. The wearable gadget works on the same RF frequencies as the other keys and is used to lock and unlock the vehicle by holding it in close proximity to the J of the Jaguar lettering on the tailgate. It also has no battery, so you never have to worry about the key running 'flat'.
F-PACE 2.0 I4D Diesel 132kW Pure - R776 800
F-PACE 2.0 I4D Diesel 132kW R-Sport - R869 100
F-PACE 3.0 TDV6 Diesel 220kW Pure - R938 200
F-PACE 3.0 TDV6 Diesel 220kW R-Sport - R1 030 400
F-PACE 3.0 TDV6 Diesel 220kW S - R1095 200
F-PACE 3.0 TDV6 Diesel 220kW First Edition - R1 218 100
F-PACE 3.0 S/C Petrol 250kW Pure - R982 700
F-PACE 3.0 S/C Petrol 250kW R-Sport - R1 074 900
F-PACE 3.0 S/C Petrol 280kW S - R1 191 100
F-PACE 3.0 S/C Petrol 280kW First Edition - R1321 000
Range Rover Sport