When news first filtered out that Jaguar
was seriously looking at building an SUV, there were raised eyebrows in some quarters. Why would Jaguar want to produce an SUV when their sister company, Land Rover produced nothing but SUVs?
On the surface a Jaguar SUV might not seem the most logical target for the company. But, taking that view is to ignore the buoyancy of the SUV sector in recent years. If you still have any doubts, think back to how the Cayenne secured Porsche’s fortunes so dramatically. The argument for SUVs is now so compelling, even Bentley and now Rolls Royce are getting in on the act.
Whereas a product planner back in the dark ages might have seen the opportunity to simply stick a Jaguar badge and grille onto an existing Land Rover model (excuse me while I shudder at the thought!), these are more enlightened times. The new Jaguar SUV had to be a true Jaguar and it also had to avoid the risk of cannibalising sales from Land Rover.
That must have been quite a challenge for Jaguar’s product planners, designers and engineers. But, it is clear that they have succeeded.
The amazing thing for a marque that has never produced an SUV before is how right it looks and feels in every respect. Raising Jaguar’s design language to a taller off-roader not only works – in a car park line-up of Jaguars it just looks part of the family.
Nevertheless, it does come as a little bit of a surprise to be stepping up into a Jaguar. What immediately impressed was the feeling of confidence I had behind the wheel. The F-Pace feels so right and so capable.
Having expensive tastes I had chosen the near-top-of-the-range Jaguar F-Pace 3.0 S. With the options fitted, the asking price for this car just scrapes under £60,000. However, had I had more modest tastes, F-Pace prices start at £35,020 for the 2.0D with rear-wheel-drive, rather than the four-wheel-drive on the test car.
Our Indian Summer had dissolved into a misty, drizzly day (around these parts the weather would be described as dreich – a wonderfully descriptive word). As I drove up the main road alongside Loch Lomond it was clear that the Jaguar F-Pace was eager to get out from the long lines of trucks and holidaymakers that thronged the road.
I headed over the hill to Arrochar on the appropriately named Loch Long. Unfortunately so did the trucks and the caravans!
The Cobbler was enveloped in mist as we headed up the A83 above the famous Rest-and-be-Thankful hill climb track. This is where future world champions Jim Clark and Sir Jackie Stewart both competed early in their careers. I never saw it as a hill climb, but I do remember it being used as a rally stage and I have enjoyed the opposite-lock spectacle at the hairpin.
When we reached the summit and pulled into the car park, my plan had been to take a photo of the F-Pace with the hill climb as a backdrop. I had bargained without the mist and incessant drizzle. In a damp, grey drizzle it might be difficult to see the car, let alone the track!
It was then that I had a brainwave about how to get out of the traffic and give the Jaguar F-Pace a real test of its ability. We would head back to Arrochar and take the A814 to Garelochead. Then we would take the hill road through Glen Douglas back to our base in Luss.
I had forgotten quite how three-dimensional the A814 to Garelochhead is! Up until this point we had chosen the sportier settings for the car, preferring the tighter, more-connected feel of the sports suspension.
So roller-coaster-like is this road, however, that my passenger and I agreed the softer settings were needed just for this section of road.
That wasn’t so much a reflection on the F-Pace, more a reminder of how extreme this road is. It was a considerable credit to the F-Pace that, even on this really wild ride, it kept its composure and did its best to smooth out the bumps. It just couldn’t flatten out the crests, or straighten the corners.
A taller car will always have a bit more roll. That’s just a matter of physics. But the body control of the F-Pace on this extreme test was impressive.
The Glen Douglas road, over the hill to Loch Lomond, also proved a stern test.
It’s a long time since I have driven on such a contorted single track road. But, I was able to place the Jaguar with absolute confidence on this extremely narrow, constantly twisting, turning, rising and falling ribbon of tarmac. The preciseness of the steering made the placing of the car seem so natural and we never once dropped a wheel off the black stuff. The F-Pace is quite a big vehicle, but here it felt brilliantly agile and nimble.
The Jaguar F-Pace is a car I have wanted to drive ever since it was launched. The weather might not have been the idyllic warm, sunny Indian summer day that I had envisaged. But, but the car did not disappoint.
It’s a very worthy addition to the Jaguar stable. It feels so right, that having the Jaguar badge on the front of an SUV seems so natural. Already the rumour mill is suggesting that the F-Pace will soon be joined by another, smaller SUV. Jaguar F-Pace S 3.0d
Carbon dioxide emissions: 159 g/km
VED band ?
Combined fuel economy 47.1 mpg
Top speed: 150 mph
0-60: 5.8 secs
Engine size 2993cc diesel
Boot capacity 650/1740 (back seats up/folded)