by Kannan Chandran
In the cabin of the Jaguar F-Pace there’s a little sign that reads “1935 Jaguar Coventry”.
It’s a look back at history for a brand that had its roots in English motoring. But a lot has changed since, as following a series of ownership changes, it is owned by the Indian global company Tata.
Since then, the brand has flourished, and the F-Pace is a good example of how the big cat has kept with the times.
There’s a sumptuousness about the F-Pace’s interior that has vague tendrils reaching back to the elegance of the earlier Jaguar models like the Mark 2, Xk120 and the E Type. Not outwardly, but the overall feeling of composed elegance. Not easily achieved with an SUV.
Jaguar did a good job with the overall shape with its initial attempt at the F-Pace. The interior was far from adequate, but that didn’t stop it from being the brand’s bestseller.
This follow-up refines much of the awkward lines and makes up in spades for a previously unsatisfying interior.
A raft of changes kicks the F-Pace’s confidence level up several notches.
Reworked bumpers, new LED double J lights, a full bonnet without a nose cone, a new infotainment system and an upgraded interior look and feel add to what could be considered in some quarters as an all-new model.
The comfortable red seats of the test-drive car with its 12-way electric seats is a start point of the tactile experience. Around you in the cabin’s ambient mood light is yet more leather, accompanied by metal trims, knurled knobs, cricket ball stitching on the leather gear shifter and a pulsing red button waiting for you to power up the big cat. Everything brought together in a neat, tidy form.
The 3-spoke leather steering with multifunction buttons that control your audio and key driving features on the curved glass dashboard display feels good in the hand. The 11.4” touchscreen is curved to match the display and has two coatings, to cut glare and make it easier to clean off fingerprints.
The new Pivi Pro infotainment system is a huge improvement over the predecessor. The new system has its own power source, which means it is ready to respond as soon as you get into the car. The information is neatly organised in silos and most functions can be reached with two taps.
In reverse gear, a sharp image pops up to give you a good view of what’s surrounding the car.
As is to be expected, for a car that’s going to set you back $265K, it’s loaded with features that will keep the occupants out of harm’s way. There’s an alphabet soup of safety features: ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) which essentially keep you on the safe and narrow. Most of these features can be activated via the touchscreen.
Powering up the F-Pace evokes a slight cough and a purr, though that’s mainly heard outside. The cabin is well insulated so that you can focus on the road ahead, and the Meridian sound system, which delivers good sound. Wireless charging ensures your connection with the outside world will not run out of juice, but seems pointless if you have to plug in to run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Similarly, there’s an Activity Key that comes with the car, so you don’t have to carry your key when you’re out and about and wish to travel light. The rechargeable watch unlocks and locks the car and starts the car. It’s waterproof to 30 m and tells the time. But it doesn’t have any other smart features that anyone with a smartwatch would require. It’s not particularly attractive, so it’s quite likely it’ll be left at home when you’ve got your designer watch on your wrist.
For a car weighing over 1.8 tons, the 2-litre engine does a good job of managing things via the 8-speed sequential shifter.
The ride on the beefed-up 22” wheels (normal set-up uses 19”) is firm but accommodating. On rough roads it navigates smoothly, picking its way around potholes, and riding bumpy ground without too much passing into the cabin.
It’s a lovely ride along smooth roads, as the engine purrs through seamless gear changes, and with the option of paddles to shift into a preferred gear, the all-wheel-drive lets you.
The drive selector is still placed on the centre console, within easy reach. The usual drive options are available, with enough differentiation between Eco, Comfort and Dynamic to actually make use of most of them.
The engine sound changes, to match, and the gears shift in accordance. But this being a luxury people mover, it’s not about huge variances in performance.
That said, for a heavyset vehicle with a 2L engine, it does deliver a relatively nippy 6.6 seconds for the 0-100 kmh dash, with maximum torque of 365Nm kicking in from 1,500 rpm.
With an ample boot to load your gear, the F-Pace is a good-looking option as far as SUVs go, if the sticker price is something you can live with.
Engine: 1,999cc in-line 4 turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Max output: 184kW
Max torque: 365Nm
0-100kmh: 6.6 seconds
Top speed: 217kmh
Fuel consumption: 7.8L/100m
Gross weight: 1,832kg
Fuel tank: 83L
Width: 2,175mm (with side mirrors)
Height: 1,670mm (with roof bars)
VES banding: C1
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