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2017 Jaguar F-Pace

“The World’s Most Practical Sports Car”

By Peter Bleakney

Jaguar officially joins the SUV segment with the introduction of 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.

There’s no doubting this SUV is a Jag – all the right curves and extended 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 have hint of those on the F-Type sports car. Ian Callum; Jaguar’s Design Director, 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 beautiful thing, and it will likely jump right to the top of the Jaguar sales chart. They’re probably wishing they had made this move years ago. The F-Pace will be available in African markets from mid-2016.

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

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. Aluminium 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 segment benchmark at this point.

The F-Pace is not huge, and can be placed somewhere between the Audi Q5 and Q7 in terms of size. Sitting in the comfortably 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 the 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 information.

The back seats felt comfortable and there was plenty of legroom and headroom for this six-foot writer. Three adults at the back would be a squeeze, and in case you’re wondering, Jaguar’s Design Director says there will never be a seven-seater Jaguar on his watch. Space behind the 40/20/40 back seat is a generous boot with 650L capacity. Fold the back seats down and it will hold 1740L.

This new range of Jaguars consists of the F-Pace Premium, F-Pace Prestige, F-Pace R-Sport, F-Pace S and limited F-Pace First Edition. The diesel model will start from $49,900, while the V6 petrol 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. This is a new beginning for the Jaguar family.