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First Looks – JAGUAR F-Pace.
Back in 2013 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, JAGUAR had debuted its C-X17 concept car, marking the first time in almost 80 years of its history that JAGUAR had built an SUV. Unlike SUV concepts other upmarket brands have released, the JAGUAR C-X17 had something more to offer: Realism. It was not over-styled with rulers and set squares to make edges extra sharp, it did not light up like a rolling disco ball and it did not have ground-breaking technology which was just unnecessary because doing so would make the production model over-priced. It was made not as a car to show what JAGUAR would be capable of 20 years into the future, but as a car to show what JAGUAR want to offer you today: Comfort, style and power.
So why would JAGUAR decide to finally include an SUV model in its offering? Well, the reason quite simply would be most likely because SUVs are now more equally preferred to, compared to sedan options. Secondly, it would also probably be because almost every other car manufacturer has an SUV model to offer, and by following suit, JAGUAR can now join in the fight for a piece of that SUV pie. Thirdly, and more interestingly as well, could be that JAGUAR actually thought about the females in their target audience. Apparently, according to their study, female drivers are more likely to buy SUVs rather than normal saloons or roadsters. Perhaps they took a page out of Land Rover’s book when the latter let Victoria Beckham contribute to the styling of the Evoque.
The lead up, and the launch
I felt my eyes almost well up with tears of joy when, the day before the launch event, a trailer with 4 JAGUAR F-Pace’s cars rolled up beside me on the expressway. A glance from a distant showed that almost nothing has changed from the concept. In my opinion, the F-Pace is the best-looking SUV currently on the market. In terms of design, I tip my hat to you, Mr Ian Callum (Director of Design, JAGUAR).
The launch event, organized by Mercury MC was held at Changi Exhibition Centre, boasted a large reception area with interactive touchpoint stations with iPads with picture galleries, infographic displays, a large screen photo booth, as well as an excellent choice of finger food and beverages. An hour into the event, guests were then led into an auditorium where the presentation and revealing of the JAGUAR F-Pace variants were to take place. After the cars were revealed, guests were then led onto a specially layed out test track outside the building, where prospective owners and members of the press were treated to a high speed driving experience to fully get a feel of the car.
The First Look
At first glance from a distance, the car was not as impressive as initially imagined. From afar, it still had the distinctive SUV shape and at some angles, looked like a Lexus NX. Only upon closer inspection did I realise how much thought had been put into the design and details to provide better driver comfort.
The sleek lines and accents of the car shared design similarities with the F-Type and the XF. Similar lights as well as the gloss black front grill give it the distinct JAGUAR look, which on a larger sized vehicle is slightly grander and very much more appealing. The short front and rear overhangs let would-be owners know that this car has some terrain capability and the massive 22 inch rims scream PERFORMANCE. With an overall sporty and elegant look, it seems JAGUAR are aiming to secure a target audience who want the best of elegance and speed.
The interior has the rounded dashboard look which resembles the XE, and the driver’s side dial hood looks like it came directly from the F-type, which I think is a very nice touch. The door panels are leather. Driver’s side electric window buttons are in the same place as in most Land Rovers and the car also has ambient lighting. However, there is room for some improvement. When you look below the steering column, it is pretty much plastic from there. It does not feel like it lives up to its price tag.
The center console and dashboard system comes in two options. The more expensive models have improved with the addition of a larger tablet-like touchscreen which features an updated infotainment system from the XJ, XF and XE. The speedometer and rev counter dials are now on a 10.2 inch screen above the steering column and have more interaction, such as a navigation tool and performance settings, among others. The cheaper models come with an analogue rev counter and speedometer with a small screen between them to show other information, and the center console infotainment is on a smaller 8 inch screen with navigational buttons on the sides.
The seats are absolutely superb. With the soft leather trim all around, the comfort while driving is in a class of its own, much like JAGUAR’s other cars. The comfort is sublime up front even during high speed cornering and the back seats have ample leg room even if the front two passengers are 6 feet tall. The best part about the back seats is that they recline electronically into a more comfortable position. Something odd which I picked up was that the boot was unusually large, which means that JAGUAR could have actually given the back maybe a few more inches of leg room. Perhaps something to expect in the following model.
Being such a late comer to the SUV market, JAGUAR have a lot to live up to with competitors like BMW’s X3 and X4, Porsche’s Macan, Audi’s Q5, Mercedes’ GLC and GLE as well as the Lexus RS. Like the rest of their cars, they have comfortably found a position in the middle of sports SUVs. In terms of size, the F-pace is larger than the Porsche Macan, but slightly smaller than the Cayanne. It is also similar in terms of power.
Singapore will be importing only 4 out of 5 models of the F-Pace. The 3.0D Prestige/R-Sport/S was left out probably because it might dampen the sales of the Prestige and R-Sport 3.0 V6 Supercharge versions. However, the 4 which are on sale are more than sufficient.
Here are the numbers:
|2.0 D Prestige||3.0 V6 Supercharge Prestige||3.0 V6 Supercharge R-Sport||3.0 V6 Supercharge S|
(Definitely in the performance category with the petrol engines)
With so many driver assists like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Speed Limiter, Head-up Display, Dynamic Stability Control, Engine Drag Torque Control, Torque Vectoring, Advanced Drive Train Technology etc etc… It is not hard to see that JAGUAR want this car to be as easy to drive as possible so that almost anyone can drive it. Of course, real racing drivers do not have a care in the world for all the fancy electronics but instead look out for the engineering magnificence which JAGUAR have so eloquently provided. This includes building most of the car using aluminium and using magnesium parts to save weight. They built the tailgate out of plastic and used steel to build the boot floor to keep the center of gravity low. The car battery was placed at the back to contribute to the 50/50 weight distribution which in turn improved balance as well as dynamics.
During the demonstration drive done by one of the instructors, a request was made to really show what theV6 Supercharged S could do. In the long right corners, the body roll was noticeable but not excessive. Through the chicanes and tight corners, there was a bit of slip but it was easily held and we must bear in mind that the track was quite damp on that day. The torque vectoring was put to the test and passed with flying colours. Surprisingly, unlike most sports SUVs, turning on the Sport Mode on the F-Pace does not firm up the suspension to a point where it becomes spine-shatteringly uncomfortable, but instead, firms it up just enough to handle the corner very well.
The all-wheel-drive system which the F-Pace uses is different from its Land Rover sisters. Instead of constantly having 50% of the power to the front and 50% to the back, 90% of the power is used on the rear wheels in normal conditions. In low traction conditions, 50% of power is sent to both front and rear wheels, but in variable conditions, up to 90% is sent to the front wheels.
In everyday road conditions, the car is a breeze. It is easy to view your surroundings, except the rear window is a bit small. The light steering helps when driving around the tight corners of the city and it has ample power to do quick overtakes on the highways. The car does not feel overbearingly huge when driving up narrow spiral carparks and it is an absolutely comfortable place to be in when you are stuck in a jam. The Stop-Start system, which is popular among car makers these days, gets quite annoying, but that is a personal peeve.
This really is a great car. Never mind the plastics of the interior, the cheap-looking bumper trims of the Prestige models, or the shiny black plastic grille, this is a great everyday car. It feels great to drive as it has an abundance in comfort and the V6 Supercharged models pack a great punch. With options ranging from $245,000 for the 2.0 Diesel to $345,000 for the top-of-the-line 3.0 V6 Supercharged, the F-Pace has everything you would want from an SUV. A family of 4 has enough boot space for multiple sports activities and even buying flat-packed furniture. An executive who plays golf with his business partners can bring them and their golf bags to the country club. A lady on a shopping spree has enough space in the car to completely revamp her wardrobe.
More than merely assembling all the things a car would need, JAGUAR always figures out a way to make it better than everyone else does. It has been a long wait, but JAGUAR have defined the Sports Utility Vehicle with the F-Pace.
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