Preview: 2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar officially joins the SUV fray now that it has pulled the wraps off the F-Pace, a vehicle they frame as “the world’s most practical sports car”. This crossover is all about on-road dynamics, which makes sense as Jaguar certainly doesn’t want to be stepping on any toes down the hall at Land Rover.

It’s a sexy thing, and will likely jump right to the top of the Jaguar sales chart. They’re probably wishing they had done this years ago.

There’s no doubting this SUV is a Jag – all curves, haunches and taut surfaces. From the front, the LED headlights leer and the big grille gapes. The wheels are pushed to corners so there is minimal overhang. Down the side are inverted creases and the taillights hint of those on the F-Type sports car. Design director Ian Callum says they spent a lot of time on the F-Pace, as it was completely different from anything they’d done before. They put much of the F-Type feel into it, and he seems happy that “this is a Jaguar shaped like a crossover, and not a crossover pushed into the shape of a Jaguar.”

Indeed, it’s a sexy thing, and will likely jump right to the top of the Jaguar sales chart. They’re probably wishing they had done this years ago. The F-Pace will be available in Canada spring of 2016.

The F-Pace’s aluminum skin sits on Jaguar’s new expandable alloy-intensive platform that underpins the new XE and XF sedans. At launch, Canadians will have a choice of 340-hp or 380-hp 3.0L supercharged V6, both mated to an eight-speed ZF transmission. Later in 2016 a 180-hp/317 lb-ft 2.0L Ingenium diesel four comes on board.

See all our Frankfurt coverage:  2015 Frankfurt Auto Show (IAA)

The AWD system defaults to rear-wheel drive under normal driving conditions but can transition to a 50:50 torque split in just 165 milliseconds. Aluminum is used almost exclusively to make the front double-wishbone and rear multilink suspension as light as possible. Wheel sizes range from 19 to 22 inches. Torque vectoring is standard and Adaptive Dynamics suspension is available. Jaguar claims this four-wheel-drive feline handles better than a Porsche Macan – a bold statement that bodes well for the enthusiast, as the Macan is pretty much the benchmark at this point.

The F-Pace is not huge – sized “somewhere between the Audi Q5 and Q7[Why not just say Cayenne sized? –Ed.]. Sitting in the snugly supportive front seats, the driving environment feels intimate, as we have come to expect from Jaguar. All the controls look familiar, with the rising rotary shift knob sitting in centre console. The F-Pace is equipped with the new Jaguar InControl Touch infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen as standard. Upgrade to InControl Touch Pro and we see fully digital and configurable 12.3-inch HD instrument cluster, a 10.2-inch central touchscreen and laser head-up display.

Jaguar will be offering an array of tech features, safety features and mega-connectivity. Among the highlights is compatibility with the Apple Watch and available InControl Wi-Fi capable of hosting up to eight devices. Additionally, the car can send preselected recipients a text stating your expected arrival time based on sat-nav info.

The back seats felt comfy and there was plenty of legroom and headroom for this six-foot writer. Three abreast would be a squeeze, and in case you’re wondering, Callum says there will never be a seven-seat Jaguar on his watch. Space behind the 40/20/40 back seat is a generous 650 L – fold the seats down and it will hold 1740 L.

This new Jag’s range consists of the F-Pace Premium, F-Pace Prestige, F-Pace R-Sport, F-Pace S and limited F-Pace First Edition. In Canada, the diesel model starts at $49,900 (that’s right, we’re getting a diesel straight out of the gate, and it’s the most affordable, base powertrain), and the V6 gasoline models range from $53,900 to $66,400.

As far as premium SUVs go, this is a pretty appealing package. Jaguar has its own special allure, and it appears not to have been diluted with the F-Pace crossover. Of course, driving will be believing, but we do know Jaguar has its stamp all over the black art of combining athleticism with ride compliance.  A new family Jaguar to join the Jaguar family.

It’s a sexy thing, and will likely jump right to the top of the Jaguar sales chart. They’re probably wishing they had done this years ago. 9/16/2015 10:26:26 AM