BEST JAG EVER? The F-Pace is perhaps the best vehicle Jaguar had ever produced. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
Cape Town - The Jaguar F-Pace came to South Africa earlier in 2016 and has been nothing but a sales de force for the Coventry-based automaker.
To put it in perspective: it outsold its nearest stablemate despite not being on-sale during the first four months of the year!
How Jag fared in 2016
Before the F-Pace was launched in SA, Jaguar only had the XE, XF, XJ, and F-Type on offer.
Though these four models did not perform too badly, their sales were not what one would call "on fire". Until the F-Pace gained momentum in SA the XE was the company's best-seller, followed by the bigger XF.
READ: Jaguar's F-Pace in SA - 10 things you should know
The XJ sold quite poorly in 2016, with some months registering zero new owners. The F-Type, however, performed admirably and is a strong candidate when sports car sales are tallied at the end of each month.
Then came the F-Pace and it changed Jaguar's entire complexity. Not only in SA, but globally, as well.
The luxury SUV market is a booming one and Jag realised this. They tapped into it and immediately tasted success. The company sold 304 F-Pace's in 2016, excluding the outstanding tally for December.
In July alone 97 F-Paces found new owners - the most of any Jaguar products on offer this year. Despite a starting price of nearly R780 000 for the 2.0-litre diesel AWD Pure and R1.3-million for the top-of-the-range AWD S First Edition - before optional extras - the F-Pace found its place in the Jaguar hierarchy.
And that place is at the top of the Jaguar food chain.
Jag SA said: "The arrival of the Jaguar F-Pace has been highly anticipated since the reveal of the C-X17 Crossover Concept in 2013. The vehicle joins the SUV sector, the strongest growing sector not only in South Africa, but globally."
The F-Pace was revealed to the South African motoring public at the 2016 Jaguar Simola Hillclimbin May. And what a reveal it was!
The SUV made an entrance by helicopter and flew over Knysna en route to Simola. South African actor and Jaguar ambassador Sharlto Copley was the first member of the public to drive the F-Pace and the actor really took full advantage of the opportunity.
Soon after the F-Pace was officially launched in the country. Wheels24's Janine van der Post attended the local launch and was clearly impressed by Jag's offering.
READ: F-Pace driven - So Jaguar launched its first SUV in SA and its awesome
She wrote: "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.
"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."
And a couple of months later the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol came to the office and I had the opportunity to drive it. What Van der Post said is true. It's all true! The F-Pace is really that good. Brilliant in its own right!
Its steering feels solid and the engine far removed from lazy. There is a smoothness that accompanies every throttle input. A power surge that 1) can unnerve any vehicle in your way and 2) put a smile on your face that will not be easily diminished.
In Jaguar's modern era - together with the F-Type - the F-Pace is the automaker's finest hour.
Commenting on the F-Pace, Jaguar SA said: 'It's a performance SUV which is very much a Jaguar, adding to our sports sedans or sport cars showing off luxury, performance and design - all so much a part of the Jaguar brand."
F-Pace vs. other SUVs in SA
From a sales perspective the F-Pace lags behind the likes of the BMW X5, Toyota's Land Cruiser duo and the Porsche Cayenne. These vehicles are constantly at the top of the sales charts at the end of every month, despite asking prices starting at nearly R1.0-million.
But the F-Pace is not far off in terms of sales, with the SUV firmly establishing itself as a top five candidate in 2016. But can the company carry this momentum into 2017?
READ: X5 dominates, Levante joins the fray... Best-selling luxury SUVs in SA
Jaguar SA said: "Our current offering, from the our pure sports car, the F-Type, all the way through to our premium luxury sedan, the XJ, and now adding the F-Pace, caters to a much broader customer appeal. Over the past two years, and into the next few, all of our retailers, Africa-wide are being upgraded, completely rebuilt, expanded or refurbished to provide customers with enhanced services and convenience.
"At Jaguar, we strive to offer our customers excellent service at every touch point. The F-Pace is an SUV with broad appeal offering design, performance and practicality with a strong dealer support."