From £34,4508
First plug-in hybrid for the GLC rival and a heavily reworked cabin aim to take the Jaguar back to the sharp end of the class
10 March 2021

What is it?

What with all Jaguar’s well-publicised recent struggles and CEO Thierry Bolloré’s ‘Reimagine’ strategy, it’s sometimes easy to forget the cars themselves. Because with vehicles like this F-Pace PHEV, the British brand is quietly getting into a position of having a heavily updated model range that, it hopes, will be able to challenge for class honours.

The F-Pace has been facelifted across the spectrum - we drove a P400 version here and the bonkers SVR here - but this plug-in hybrid is potentially the most interesting of the lot. At least it is if you pay for your own fuel and taxes.

At its heart is a 2.0-litre petrol Ingenium engine, coupled with a rear-mounted 17.1kWh battery and 141bhp electric motor. It’s good for 33 miles of electric-only running and a charge time of 1hr 40min from a 7kW wallbox. For company car buyers, the CO2 is 49g/km, with 12% benefit-in-kind tax band, a handy 7g/km and 1% under the Mercedes GLC 300e.

Speed? With 398bhp and 472lb ft, it’ll do 0-62mph in 5.3sec - again just edging out the Merc, despite having 44lb ft less than the German.

The new F-Pace rides on the same D7a platform as before, but Jag has tweaked the dampers, springs and anti-roll bars. One slight snag: because this platform was only ever designed to take a space-saver spare, there isn’t as much room under the boot floor. This means the rear-mounted battery intrudes into the boot space, which is 98 litres smaller than the non-PHEV cars.

Inside, the main thing to notice is the new Pivi Pro infotainment system, hosted in a new, curved touchscreen that sits proud of the dashboard. Jaguar also claims better-quality materials throughout, and there are rotary climate control dials and a stubby gearlever.

What's it like?

Let’s deal with the interior first, because this is dramatically different and much the better for it. The Pivi Pro is a revelation - quick to fire up and easy to use, for a touchscreen, thanks to its three vertical ‘home’ sections covering nav, EV and media. It’s also an elegant-looking addition: some rivals have touchscreens that sit proud of the dash and look like afterthoughts, but this one is smart and a welcome upgrade from the F-Pace's previous set-up.

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The use of leather on the doors and dash, along with the general quality of the switchgear and satin-finish plastics, brings the F-Pace much closer to rivals. It’s a welcome change.

Set off down the road in electric mode and the 1141bhp motor makes a decent stab of accelerating quickly up to 30mph. It tails off a bit after that, but no more so than rivals. This is a two-tonne machine, after all. And even when the electric power does fall away, it’s only a problem if you’re really pressing on. For a school run journey, the amount of power and torque available is perfectly adequate.

If you do want more shove, it’s possible to simply stab the accelerator harder to engage the hybrid mode, or scroll through the selector button by the gearlever. The transition to the petrol engine is seamless. The four-cylinder Ingenium lump is so smooth and quiet that you struggle to tell whether it’s running or not. Despite being a four-cylinder, it never feels harsh, even when stretched. The cabin isolation is impressive - if only Jaguar could have applied a similarly rigorous touch to the road noise, which intrudes a bit too much. Maybe it’s because the powertrain is so quiet.

In hybrid mode, there’s a decent amount of power on offer: not too much to make the car feel unsettled, but enough to make light work of overtaking on B-roads and easily enough for motorways. The F-Pace will run in electric only at 70mph, but you have to be gentle getting to that speed to keep it in EV mode.

Our car came on 21i wheels but it never felt unsettled over sharper bumps in the road. It also rides quietly, with minimal suspension noise intruding into the cabin when the big wheels thwack through a pothole. Where the F-Pace doesn’t feel as settled is over a particular type of longer undulation. If the car doesn’t hit them straight on, it almost lollops across them. It’s a strange feeling, especially when the rest of the suspension feels so well tied down.

Still, the steering is direct and the body control through a corner is impressive. The steering and suspension sync together nicely, so it’s easy to thread the F-Pace through a series of corners. The way the nose tucks in sharply helps. This is a car where it’s easy to forget that you’re meant to be in the eco version.

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Should I buy one?

It would be nice to think that Jaguar has got a winner on its hands here, a car that, if not a sales rival to the dominant Germans, can at least hold its own against them in critical terms.

The interior is much better now - it needed to be - and the addition of the PHEV tech makes the F-Pace feel like it has the technical hardware to survive the next couple of years in this ever-changing world of electrification. At £58,975, it’s not cheap, but it is good.

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Comments
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rob26 10 March 2021

What's more unreliable than a Jaguar? A Jaguar with two engines and lots more electronics. 

Cobnapint 10 March 2021
Sounds like they're finally getting their act together. Just the reliability nut to crack and we can all relax.
Cobnapint 10 March 2021
Sounds like they're finally getting their act together. Just the reliability nut to crack and we can all relax.
TStag 10 March 2021
Cobnapint wrote:

Sounds like they're finally getting their act together. Just the reliability nut to crack and we can all relax.

JLR have halved their warranty claims in just 1 year. I think they finally get it