Best-seller gets a cabin makeover and now flexes big PHEV muscle, but to what effect?

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Our original 2016 road test of the then-new Jaguar F-Pace began by discussing how wary Jaguar was of introducing an SUV. Traditionally known for luxury saloons and sports cars, it feared a backlash from what might seem like a drastic change of character.

Today, that thought seems almost naive, because SUVs have taken off in popularity, making the F-Pace one of the few Jaguars in recent years that could be considered a success story. As the world has lost its appetite for saloons and estates, and made cars like the Jaguar XE and Jaguar XF critical successes but commercial slow-burners, the F-Pace has played a key role in keeping Jaguar afloat.

There are many paint colours available through the ‘SVO Premium Palette’. I dearly hope someone will order an F-Pace in Sorrento Yellow. It costs a mere £4590.

Two decades of trying to chase the German premium brands haven’t worked out well for Jaguar, then. But now Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bolloré is changing tack in a major way: Jaguar will become a pure-electric sub-Bentley luxury brand by 2025. Until then, its existing models need to continue to earn their keep.

All of them have had facelifts with drastic interior revamps and some major powertrain shake-ups. With that previous focus on the German brands came big investment in JLR’s own range of Ingenium diesel engines. With hindsight, that now looks like the wrong direction to have taken, of course, but in recent years the firm has gone full steam ahead in developing plug-in hybrids as well.

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To see how successful this effort has been, we’re revisiting its most popular model, the F-Pace, with arguably what is now its most important powertrain: the P400e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. Could this be one of the best premium family SUVs around?

The Jaguar F-Pace line-up at a glance

As well as the plug-in hybrid, there are plenty of petrol and diesel models to choose from. All come with all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. With the exception of the SVR and P250, all benefit from 48V mild-hybrid assistance.

There is a plain ‘F-Pace’ trim level available on the D165. Above that, the range starts at S and rises to R-Dynamic S, SE and HSE.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Jaguar F-Pace


2 Jaguar F Pace P400e 2021 road test review side pan

As you’d expect with a facelift, the underbody structure of the F-Pace remains the same. The car’s platform is shared with the Jaguar XE and Jaguar XF and is still composed of mainly aluminium, although that construction somehow fails to translate into a particularly low kerb weight.

The lightest F-Pace, the P250, with its four-cylinder petrol engine, still weighs 1822kg. Add in a 17.1kWh battery, an electric motor and the associated electronics for the hybrid system, and that rises to 2114kg for the P400e, which is heavier even than an all-steel, seven-seat Kia Sorento PHEV. On our scales, fully fuelled and fitted with plenty of options, our test car turned out to be 150kg heavier still, at 2264kg.

The F-Pace comes with up to 21in wheels, and the rim design looks like it should be directional but isn’t. The driver’s-side wheels spin in the wrong direction for the design, which may irk some people more than others. More symmetrical options are available.

This platform wasn’t originally conceived with electrification in mind, so the packaging was never going to be ideal (more about this later). The engineers nevertheless managed to squeeze in a 17.1kWh battery pack, of which 13.7kWh is usable in EV mode. Providing the rather substantial 398bhp are the 296bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine in the P300 tune familiar from the XE, XF and Jaguar F-Type, and a 141bhp electric motor. That’s a good deal more firepower than either the BMW X3 xDrive30e or Mercedes-Benz GLE 300e. The car is also rated to tow two tonnes – plenty for a hybridised SUV.

Where Jaguar (and Land Rover) PHEVs have an advantage over most rivals is on charging speed. JLR’s hybrids are some of the only ones that can rapid charge using a DC public charger. It’s still only possible at up to 32kW and will usually be more expensive than charging at home, but topping up from 0% to 80% in 30 minutes can certainly be useful to maximise your efficiency on a long drive while you stop for a break.

If you like the updated F-Pace but aren’t keen on the expensive plug-in hybrid, Jaguar still offers a fulsome range of regular petrols and diesels. There have been some significant changes there, too. Out have gone the low-base-price-chasing manual and rear-wheel-drive models and the Ford-engined holdovers, and in have come Jaguar’s Ingenium inline four- and six-cylinder engines. With the exception of the P250 2.0-litre turbo petrol, all benefit from 48V mild-hybrid assistance. And if economy is of no concern, you’ll be pleased that the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 F-Pace SVR lives to fight another day.


10 Jaguar F Pace P400e 2021 road test review cabin

Even in 2016, the F-Pace’s interior was one of its most significant weaknesses, with a slightly featureless design, so-so material quality and an infotainment system that was well off the pace. It’s not uncommon for a mid-life refresh to add a new multimedia system and light design tweaks but, in this case, Jaguar looks to have binned most of the old interior and started over.

On the evidence of our admittedly high-spec R-Dynamic HSE test car, that was the right decision, because when you step inside the refreshed F-Pace, it’s a world of difference – for the better. The design looks modern but classy, and perceived material quality is excellent across the board.

HVAC panel looks swish and, thanks to physical rotary controllers, is reasonably easy to use, but the ‘buttons’ need quite a hard push

Practicality has been improved, too: the centre console’s phone-charging tray, decent-size armrest, cupholders, cubbies and ‘below-deck’ storage wouldn’t be out of place in an MPV. 

The HVAC controls strike a nice balance between looking expensive and modern and offering easy usability. Controlling the temperature and fan speed, as well as the seat heating and ventilation, is done by turning, pulling and pushing two rotary controllers, while a touch-sensitive panel controls the other functions. The panel’s ‘buttons’ need a firm press to work, which is not ideal, but at least the temperature gets easily grabbed physical controls.

The F-Pace has always been positioned as a sporty SUV, in contrast to the increased focus on versatility, luxury and off-road capability in Land Rover products. As such, it’s surprising when you first climb aboard that the seating position feels so high. Although the seats are comfortable and have a wide range of adjustment, taller drivers may find that the steering wheel doesn’t offer quite enough telescoping adjustment for them. The sport seats lack a bit of lateral support for faster cornering, but more heavily bolstered ‘Performance’ seats are a no-cost option. Space in the rear is competitive for the segment.

That the F-Pace was not originally designed as a plug-in hybrid takes its toll in the boot. Almost the whole floor is raised to accommodate the battery and, as a result, the P400e has 128 litres less boot space than other versions. The way the battery pack has been integrated could have been done more neatly as well, although it’s not as bad as the massive step you get in some Mercedes models. The floor is mostly flat but slopes down in the last 30cm towards the opening. Although that means it starts level with the tailgate opening, it’s unfortunate that it could almost have been designed to automatically eject smaller loose items, soft bags, footballs and the like, so you sometimes find yourself in a race to close the bootlid before cargo escapes.

Jaguar F-Pace infotainment and sat-nav

Although the name Pivi Pro sounds so cutesy that it might even have been devised by some teenage YouTuber, it marks Jaguar finally getting infotainment right.

The company’s old systems had a habit of becoming confusing and laggy, especially while mirroring your smartphone, but while this new one’s layout is slightly quirky and takes some getting used to, it works quickly and logically. Wherever you are, you can swipe right for settings, and there are always shortcuts to your navigation, media and phone projection. The home screen’s three-tiered design offers further quick adjustments, too. The high-resolution display is large, responsive and not perched high on the dashboard like an iPad. Its graphics are classy, crisp and original-looking.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supposed to be coming to the F-Pace at a later date, but we had to run a cable to the armrest cubby. The built-in navigation also had trouble connecting to traffic data and doesn’t offer much in the way of alternative routes.


23 Jaguar F Pace P400e 2021 road test review range estimate

The P400e sits high within the F-Pace model hierarchy but it is not billed as a performance variant. It just happens to have 398bhp and 472lb ft and, although it weighs more than 2.2 tonnes, that gives it the accelerative pace of a warm performance derivative. In fact, the acceleration figures the P400e delivered on the Millbrook mile straight from rest are slightly better than those we saw from the Audi SQ5 with the now-discontinued petrol V6.

More remarkable are the in-gear figures, because they demonstrate the flexibility afforded by an electric motor that can pull hard from low revs. The Jaguar matched or was significantly quicker than the Audi over every 20mph increment we measured, although it’s worth noting that the Jaguar has a much shorter final drive ratio than the Audi with the same gearbox ratios.

Cover for the CCS charging socket is an unusual sight on a plug-in hybrid. Unlike most hybrids, the P400e can rapid charge at up to 32kW, which means that an 80% charge from zero could take as little as 30 minutes.

Subjectively, it feels quite quick, but not explosively so because there is clearly a lot of weight that needs to be put in motion. That said, the driving experience is mostly seamless and pleasant. Having a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine may not sound like a recipe for audible ‘premiumness’, but in reality it is remarkably refined. In fact, the only thing you hear as you accelerate hard is a faint, synthesised V8 woofle that’s piped in through the speakers. You might think such fakery is beneath Jaguar, but because it’s ever so subtle, it’s actually quite easy on the ear.

Both the engine and the electric motor drive through the familiar eight-speed ZF torque-converter automatic and a mechanical clutch-based four-wheel drive system, which means you don’t end up with an SUV with only one driven axle when you select EV mode. In hybrid mode, the driveline mostly shuffles the gears quickly and unobtrusively and, thanks to the torquey power unit, the engine never feels strained. Very occasionally at low speeds, the engine and electric motor can disagree and introduce a slight lurch as the engine fires into life, but that hardly affects the overall experience.

As with all plug-in hybrids, of course, you will only come close to the quoted economy of 121.1mpg if you drive as many miles as possible on electric power alone. By itself, the electric motor has 141bhp, so it doesn’t feel as lethargic as some plug-in hybrids do when you switch to EV mode using the button on the centre console. At town speeds, you won’t feel hard done by for usable, emissions-free performance. However, while the car is capable of motorway speeds in EV mode, getting up to 70mph without starting the piston engine takes a while and saps the battery.

Jaguar claims the F-Pace can go 33 miles before the engine has to kick in. While you might get close to that pottering around town, it was all over for us after 24 miles on a mixed route.


24 Jaguar F Pace P400e 2021 road test review on road front

If you already thought a sporting SUV was a contradiction, adding in the weight of a plug-in hybrid system won’t help change your mind in this section. However, despite weighing more than 2.2 tonnes as tested, the F-Pace P400e takes corners with plenty of grace. On British country roads, you never really forget its weight or that it’s well over two metres wide. Ultimately, it’s too big to be truly engaging, and with relatively compliant suspension and plenty of weight wanting to continue in the direction it was already going, the car does suffer with slightly delayed direction changes.

That said, the steering is well weighted and sensibly geared, with a little bit of feedback filtering through when you load it up in corners. Our test car was fitted with 265-section Continental ContiSportContact 5 tyres rather than the less grippy all-season option, so it hung on gamely in corners. All P400e models come with adaptive dampers as well and switching to Dynamic mode contains body roll well enough. All of these factors mean that you can give the car calm, precise inputs and be confident in placing it at speed. You wouldn’t call it fun, but for what it is, the P400e is enjoyable enough to punt down a sweeping, interesting road.

F-Pace’s weight prevents it from being engaging on a challenging road but it’s still enjoyable because it’s easy to place precisely, grips keenly and controls body roll well.

Although the stability control system’s tuning generally marshals the F-Pace’s mass well, giving you no reason to turn it off, it does have its limits, which were revealed on Millbrook’s Hill Route. On a lot of SUVs, the stability control can get a little panicky when you suddenly come off the throttle in a fast corner, and the F-Pace is no different, grabbing at one of the front brakes quite suddenly.

More startlingly, twice when going through some of the Hill Route’s big compressions, it actuated the brakes quite hard for no obvious reason – at one point even locking up the front right wheel. Although the car was certainly under load at the time, that sort of sudden, unpredictable, unnecessary intervention should not be present in a modern car.

Ride comfort and isolation

Despite its sporty potential and its R-Dynamic Styling Pack, the F-Pace’s everyday comfort will be of greater importance to most buyers and thankfully Jaguar has struck a pleasing compromise here. Leave the driving mode selector in Comfort and the ride has a relaxed, languid character without being floaty or uncontrolled. The secondary ride is not perfect, mind, and sharp surface imperfections can still send a harsh thunk through the cabin. Given that our test car’s 21in wheels still had a fairly meaty sidewall, it’s likely that this is simply inherent to the car and smaller wheels would bring little solace.

Other than that, comfort aboard the refreshed F-Pace is close to impeccable. The seats are supportive and have all the adjustment you could need, and you can shrug off long drives easily.

We have no complaints about the acoustic refinement, either. Wind and road noise are well suppressed at all speeds, and the engine is very cultured indeed. That is when it is operating, of course, because the P400e can drive on electric power at any road speed as long as there is enough charge in the battery.

That is reflected in the objective measurements, which are lower than in rivals at all cruising speeds other than at full power in fourth gear.

Assisted driving notes

Being a top-spec R-Dynamic HSE, our test car came with adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assistance. On all lower trims, that’s an option as part of the £1610 Driver Assist Pack.

In general, Jaguar’s driver assist features aren’t the most wide- reaching or ambitiously autonomous, but they also rarely frustrate. The lane keeping assistance seems to automatically disable at lower speeds so that narrow country roads can be navigated and obstacles can be avoided without interference.

However, on the motorway, the system lets the car wander around inside the lane more than other systems. The adaptive cruise control can be a little slow to accelerate and doesn’t adapt with speed limits unless in speed limiter mode. But it is generally smooth, never significantly misbehaved during our time with the car and has the rare option to switch to ‘dumb’ (read ‘traditional’) cruise control.


1 Jaguar F Pace P400e 2021 road test review hero front

We were somewhat startled by the £73,975 list price of our car as tested. It’s hard to justify when a BMW X3 xDrive30e with all of the most expensive options going tops out at a ‘mere’ £64,490. Granted, the Jaguar has 100bhp more but we suspect most buyers would be just as satisfied with the BMW’s hardly weedy 288bhp.

However, it is possible to get one for more reasonable money. It starts at £55,910 in S trim, to which it’s very easy to add at least £5000 in options, but at that point it does at least still make some financial sense. The lower-power engine options are more competitively priced.

Jaguar, Audi and Land Rover PHEVs look to hold their value exceptionally well, but the F-Pace is particularly stable in the long term

If you are considering an F-Pace on PCP finance, Jaguar’s rates are quite favourable. With a 15% deposit over three years and 36,000 miles, a P400e starts at £682 per month, rising to £1028 for our test car. Spec for spec, it will still be more expensive than an X3 30e or an Audi Q5 55 TFSIe, but the gap narrows.

Fuel economy is a thorny issue with plug-in hybrids because it can vary wildly depending on how you use the car. If you do most of your journeys without rousing the engine, averaging more than 100mpg might be achievable. Equally, on longer journeys with a depleted battery, economy can dip under 30mpg. On a 100-mile drive that combined hybrid and EV running, as well as some stretches with an empty battery, it averaged 46.2mpg – very respectable for a 2.2-tonne SUV with 398bhp.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Jaguar F-Pace


26 Jaguar F Pace P400e 2021 road test review static

From 2025, we’ll see a ‘reimagined’ Jaguar with even higher luxury aspirations, powered by only batteries and electric motors. Until then, the brand must soldier on with refreshed versions of models that have been on the market for a few years. However, on the evidence of this road test, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

This plug-in hybrid model is certainly hampered a little by a platform that wasn’t originally designed for electrification. It confers weight and packaging penalties and, unlike with the remarkably keenly priced Jaguar XE and Jaguar XF, Jaguar may be getting ahead of itself a little with the P400e’s pricing.

Top trims can go over the top. If you’re not set on the R-Dynamic bodykit and big wheels, a base S is quite well equipped, and its starting prices offer more room for personalisation with a few strategic options.

But the rest of the changes to this car hit the target. The F-Pace is still good to drive for a large SUV, its line-up has the engines to make good on its premium promises, and the interior is now the indulgent space that it ought to be, with a multimedia set-up that’s one of the better systems out there.

In a way, it seems regrettable that a zero-emissions revolution is imminent because Jaguar’s model range has rarely been more tempting.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Jaguar F-Pace

Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester
As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.