What is it?
The Jaguar F-Pace is a watershed moment for the ascendant British car-maker. As the company’s first SUV it is, in principal, the catalyst to transform the brand from upwardly mobile minnow to truly global player; to broaden its reach for a much wider customer base, boost its production volumes into the hundreds of thousands per year and give it a presence in one of the fastest-growing market segments in the world. To describe it as important is selling it a bit short.
And yet it’s not just another medium-sized, middle-of-the-road upmarket soft-roader, nor – quite plainly – a Jaguar as we might expect it to be. It’s a bit different; different to look at, to sit in and very much so to drive, as a day on a frozen lake in Sweden with one has just demonstrated.
Arriving in UK showrooms this April, the F-Pace, which has been four years in the making, shares its ‘D7A’ platform with the XE and XF saloons. The car’s body-in-white is almost identical to that of an XF from the B-pillar forwards – with a bespoke front subframe slotting in to allow for the longer-travel suspension that an SUV needs – but unique from the B-pillar back. Almost 80% of the superstructure is lightweight aluminium, and almost 90% of the car’s components are new (rather than common with either XE or XF).
Powertrain options start with a 178bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel, manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive, ranging upwards to include automatic and four-wheel drive Ingenium options. Then further upwards to a 296bhp, 516lb ft 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel and a 375bhp 3.0-litre supercharged petrol – both of the latter offered exclusively with eight-speed automatic gearboxes and four-wheel drive.
But unlike Land Rover’s smaller 4x4s, which use transverse engines and clutch-based four-wheel drive systems, the F-Pace has a longways engine sending 100% of its torque to the rear axle as a default. Active all-corner traction comes courtesy of the same electrohydraulic coupling you’ll find in an F-Type AWD, which can send up to 100% of power to either axle within a tenth of a second when called to, although in the F-Pace that drivetrain operates through a beefier front differential.