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Jaguar's F-Pace pretty and relevant

07.04.2017

South Africa, although recently reduced to junk status, is still a key market for some not so junk cars, in particular SUVs.

We as a nation love them and it’s easy to see why. They can handle our rough roads and offer practicality some sedans just can’t. They also give us a raised ride height which is great for when you want to see what’s holding you up in the traffic. After a long wait, Jaguar recently joined the SUV party with an absolute stunner, the F-Pace.

The F-Pace is the Indian-owned British marque’s answer to the likes of the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5. As far as the beauty pageant goes, the F-Pace has the others beat. The front end features bold, muscular styling with a bulge on the bonnet and two large air-intakes on either side of the bumper.

As always, the Jaguar logo sits pretty on the large grille which is flanked by slim LED headlights. At the rear, the F-Pace features F-Type-inspired taillights which adds to that iconic Jaguar look. Down the side, the designers have kept the styling clean with the element of purity and smooth surfaces highlighted.

Moving inside, I noticed that the layout is similar to that of other Jaguar models such as the XE and XF. Two things caught my attention from the moment I got in; the 10.2-inch InControl Touch infotainment screen, and the 12.3-inch TFT HD instrument cluster which offers a choice of four visual themes and a full-screen 3D navigation display.

There are a host of device ports located in the centre armrest such as a HDMI and USB port, SD Card and data SIM slots, the latter, once activated, turning the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot.Other niceties include leather on just about every surface and Jaguar’s rotary gear selector. I find it a bit gimmicky but it’s a fantastic conversation starter.

What’s more, the F-Pace offers ample head and leg room as well as boot space with around 650-litres offered. Under the bonnet of my test vehicle sat a very frugal 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor. Designed and manufactured in-house, this state-of-the-art all-aluminium unit produces 132kW/430Nm, and is mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox.

I did find that the torque tends to taper off rather quickly, leaving the F-Pace dead above 3 000 rpm. It really does not like to be rushed, preferring a gradual cruise instead. Once in eighth gear on the highway, it is as silky smooth as one would expect. As is the norm these days, there are various driver modes to select depending on your mood.

 

The F-Pace offers Eco, Normal and Dynamic. It also has an Off-Road mode which splits the power evenly between all four wheels at speeds below 30 km/h, putting the gearbox into a sort of low range mode. After spending a week with the car, I can say that Jaguar has given the SUV market a pretty good contender to rival the opposition.

That said though, I do feel that the Germans still have a slight edge over the Brit. For example, the infotainment system is not the most responsive and because it’s touchscreen-only with no control unit, it can be quite distracting to switch between different operations while on the move.

No car is perfect and the Jaguar F-Pace does have its flaws, however, considering the technology both in engineering as well as design it incorporates, those who drive off the showroom floor in one won’t be disappointed.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
07.04.2017
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