The F-Pace will reach the UK next spring, priced from £34,170. It is the first SUV in Jaguar’s 70-year history and will be crucial, along with the XE saloon, in underpinning the future prosperity of the firm.
The F-Pace and XE should help to lift Jaguar’s annual volumes past 200,000 units. Last year it sold 81,000 cars. The F-Pace is expected to outsell the XE globally, which further highlights its significance to Jaguar
Based on the same modular aluminium platform as the XE and new XF saloon, the F-Pace is targeted at everything from the BMW X3 to the Porsche Macan in the premium mid-size SUV segment. Although it shares a common architecture with the XE and XF, Jaguar says 81% of the car's parts are new. Around 80% of the F-Pace's body is aluminium, and the car's body in white weighs just 298kg - about the same as a Fiat 500L.
Other materials include a composite tailgate, magnesium for the front end carrier and steel for the doors.
A varied model range at launch includes the most frugal diesel in the class and a full-blown sports variant with an engine and chassis technology from the F-Type sports car.
The F-Pace’s overall look and feel are broadly in line with the C-X17 concept car of 2013, the model that was the first visual proof of Jaguar’s intention to launch an SUV. Indeed, an SUV has been promised by the firm since 2012, when then boss Adrian Hallmark revealed one was in the works when speaking to Autocar at the Geneva show.
The F-Pace sits between the XE and XF in length. It’s 4731mm long, 1936mm wide and 1652mm tall, with a 2874mm wheelbase and a ground clearance of 213mm. This makes the F-Pace marginally longer and wider than the X3. It also has a longer wheelbase than the X3 and practically matches the BMW on height.
From launch, Jaguar will offer one petrol and two diesel engines, rear and all-wheel drive and five trim levels. The F-Pace has a 50:50 weight distribution
The entry-level 178bhp, 318lb ft diesel is the 2.0-litre four-pot unit seen in the XE and XF. As standard, it is hooked up to a six-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels. In this form, the F-Pace is claimed to be the most frugal car in its class, with 57.7mpg combined fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 129g/km. It covers 0-60mph in 8.5sec and has a 130mph top speed. This engine can also be paired with all-wheel drive, at which point an eight-speed automatic gearbox becomes optional.
V6 diesel and petrol models are also offered. Both come with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed auto. With 296bhp and 516lb ft, the diesel verison is capable of 0-60mph in 5.8sec and a 150mph top speed. Economy is 47.1mpg and CO2 output is 159g/km.
The petrol V6 is a 375bhp, 332lb ft supercharged 3.0-litre unit taken from the F-Type. This can crack 0-60mph in 5.1sec and reach a top speed of 155mph. This model is aimed squarely at the Porsche Macan Turbo, a model with a 395bhp V6 and a 4.8sec 0-62mph time.
Jaguar sources have indicated that a version of the F-Pace with even greater performance is planned, a model that could be powered by a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and wear SVR badging.
The F-Pace shares its advanced double wishbone front and Integral Link rear aluminium suspension with the XE and XF, along with the saloons’ electric power steering. Jaguar suggests the F-Pace will be the best-driving model in its class, with benchmark ride and handling.
A whole host of chassis technologies has been fitted to the F-Pace, including torque vectoring, an optional electric adaptive damping system and tunable driving modes that adjust functions such as throttle mapping, transmission shift points and steering feel.
The F-Pace’s all-wheel drive system is derived from the one recently launched in the F-Type. Called Intelligent Drive Dynamics, the rear-biased system is designed to boost on-road dynamics and traction rather than give the F-Pace off-road ability to match its stablemates from Land Rover. Up to 50% of torque can be sent to the front wheels in certain conditions.
However, some off-road ability comes from an Adaptive Surface Response system. This is derived from Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and is designed to allow the F-Pace to perform on mud, gravel, snow and other low-grip surfaces. Other tech includes All Surface Progress Control and Low-Friction Launch systems.
Many other safety features are provided through the use of a stereo camera, including an Autonomous Emergency Braking system with pedestrian detection.
The cabin has room for five adults and plenty of storage space for oddments, as well as several USB and 12V charging points. The chief claim is that rear knee room is class-leading. Boot space, at 650 litres with the rear seats up and 1740 litres with them down, also tops the class. The rear seats are split 60/40 in standard form but can also be had with a 40/20/40 split. That makes the F-Pace's seats-up capacity the same as the BMW X5.
As standard, an 8.0in touchscreen and InControl infotainment are offered. An upgraded InControl Pro system with a 10.2in touchscreen is optional. Other functions include a wi-fi hotspot that allows up to eight devices to be connected to the system.
In place of the usual instrument binnacle is a 12.3in HD screen that displays speed and trip computer functions, as well as 3D navigation graphics. A laser head-up display projects such things as navigation instructions and speed limits onto the windscreen. The F-Pace also features the largest opening panoramic glass sunroof of any car.
Standard equipment with the entry-level £34,710 Prestige trim includes heated and electrically adjustable leather seats, 18in alloy wheels, a powered tailgate, frontand rear parking sensors, sat-nav, wi-fi, split folding rear seats and Hill Launch Assist/Descent Control.
Other trims include the sporty R-Sport (from £36,670), the plush Portfolio (from £39,170) and the range-topping S (from £51,450). Another interesting feature is the new ‘activity key’. This is a waterproof wristband that allows the user to go off and do watersports without having to carry the car's keys.
The key can be kept in the car, the wristband is then put on, and the user touches it against the J of the Jaguar badge at the back to lock (and later unlock) the car and deactivate the main key. The technology is similar to that of contactless card payments.
From launch, Jaguar is also offering a fully loaded First Edition model powered by the V6 diesel engine. This is a luxuriously appointed model based on the S trim and features reclining rear leather seats and 22in alloy wheels within its specification.
The mid-size SUV segment in which the F-Pace competes is currently at around 850,000 sales, and is expected to grow to 1.2 million by 2020/21. Residual values for the F-Pace are predicte to be 45-53%, which will exceed those of the Audi Q5. It comes with two-year, 21,000-mile service intervals, and includes a three-year unlimited mile warranty, which includes servicing.
Speaking to Autocar at the car's launch, Jaguar design director Ian Callum said: "F-Pace was designed in parallel to C-X17 but to different timescales. I wanted to capture the spirit of C-X17. Every millimetre has changed for production, but not that you'd notice...
"Designing this was a difficult decision for Jaguar. The customers wanted one, so we decided it was strange but challenging as we're used to designing low, long, sleek cars. We're faced with height, and also a new package. It is a practical vehicle but with the spirit of Jaguar, I hope you see it as a Jaguar first and foremost.
"The grille I hope is now recognised as a Jaguar. It might not have been on the XF ten years ago.
"There is F-type inspiration all over this car and I hope we have captured the spirit and sportiness of it."
The F-Pace will be built at Jaguar Land Rover's Solihull factory, which has benefitted from an extra £120 million worth of investment and tooling in order to prepare for the car.
Andy Whyman Jaguar's vehicle programme director said the firm has benchmarked the car against rivals like the Porsche Macan from the early stages. "We’ve spent a lot of time in the Macan and recognise it as the benchmark," he said "We reference it with a lot in our data. Porsche set the benchmark for dynamics and handling. We have built on that, and have greater practicality, enhanced features and offer great value to customers.”
The result is a car which is said to be considerably quieter at cruising speed than the Macan, and has been able to tackle the Big Red Dune in Dubai. The F-Pace's front suspension is 50% stiffer than the Macan's, the compliance is 33% greater and the rear suspension's lateral stiffness 35% greater.
Speaking to Autocar at the Frankfurt motor show, vehicle line director Kevin Stride described the Macan as "a fantastic car."
"We mention the Macan as we think it's great," he said "As an engineer, you can be objective as well as emotional about these things. Dynamically, it raised the bar. We like it, ad it's where we'd like to be, so it's a good reference point. The Macan encouraged us. We knew what we could deliver for a Jaguar, but what the Macan did was make us focus even more on how we deliver."
On the F-Pace's size, Stride said: "The size is the best combination of agility and practicality. If we went larger first, it would not be the easiest thing to make as sporty or agile. we have the best-in-class space. That takes away any reason not to buy the car. [If it didn't have the space] you could love it emotionally but not buy rationally."
Callum said he never expected to design a Jaguar SUV when he took over at the firm more than a decade ago. “The world was different then,” he said. “But the world has moved on, and market such as US and China meant we had to look at doing one.
“When the new architecture came out we could design it from the ground up, and gave us a start on what a Jaguar SUV could be like.
“Choosing this size of SUV to make was not hard. We’re not doing hundreds, this is right for most people for now. Doing something like the Audi Q3 would be too small, like the Range Rover Sport would be took big, so we came up with this size as the right one. It can seat a family of five, and felt the right balance.”
Callum confirmed that a seven-seat version was neither planned nor ever in a plan, but wouldn’t comment on whether or not a higher performance V6 or V8 version would be on the way in the future."
Q&A With Ian Callum, Jaguar design director
When did you start designing the F-Pace?
“Three or four years ago, when we invented the architecture to underpin all our future cars. From the start, that plan included a crossover.”
What was your initial reaction?
“Honestly, I was a little sceptical. My view then was that Jaguars had to be long, low and lean. But when we talked to customers, they had a different view. They saw crossovers as delivering strength, and I get that.”
Were there any debates about whether it should be built?
“Not once we’d talked to the customers and convinced ourselves it could be true to the brand.”
What were the major hurdles?
“At first, we were too focused by the dimensions of established crossovers. I wanted some drama. I wanted some of the shape of the F-Type. I wanted a Jaguar that was designed as a crossover, and not the other way round.”
How did the C-X17 concept car inform the project?
“We did the concept while we were doing the production car, but it had more freedom because we didn’t get too caught up in production car regulations. So while it was displayed with production viability, it wasn’t constrained. That was great, because the concept and production cars allowed for ideas to bounce between the two. The concept was a crucial catalyst.”
You have a Jaguar family grille now…
“Yes, that’s deliberate. In the UK, we might recognise a Jaguar, but globally the brand needs to grow before it has instant recognition. A family grille is one way of ensuring people recognise our cars in a nanosecond.”
What are you most proud of on the F-Pace?
“It has got an edge of sculpture to it that I really enjoy. The profile view is great, but the rear three-quarter view is the one I love most. We also worked really hard on getting the swooping roofline right. Then there are the F-Type nods - the lower swage line, the vents. Clearly, they aren’t as exaggerated as on a sports car, but I make no apologies for referencing that. This is a car that needed to have drama.”
Comment - Steve Cropley: The F-Pace is less a risk, more a gigantic opportunity
Maybe there was a time when the idea of the F-Pace represented some kind of risk for Jaguar, in days when specialist car manufacturers were expected to stick to the areas of the market their history said they should. But those days are gone.
Today, Jaguar’s mould-breaking “sports crossover” represents a gigantic opportunity - which is why Jaguar design director Ian Callum, formerly a crossover sceptic, is confident that when the F-Pace hits its production stride, it’ll be the best-selling Jaguar in the range. And that will make it the best-selling Jaguar in history.
For the customer, this car is no less than a golden opportunity. Many Jaguar owners who love the F-Type need something much more practical. Now they can now choose a spacious model that still brilliantly carries the F-Type’s design values and its dynamic influence. In no other era of Jaguar’s long history were such owners so fortunate.