By Kingsley Wijayasinha
Jaguar’s crossover delivers in dynamic driving and lures enthusiasts looking for a no-nonsense vehicle
Jaguar has long been considered a brand for the high society, with its luxurious British heritage reflecting high status and education.
While exotic cars such as the E-Type (and the XJ saloons) seemed to be the icons for Jaguar in the past, the market has changed for the British manufacturer, which along with sister company Land Rover, now belongs to India’s Tata Group.
So although it has been a long wait, Jaguar finally introduced its first and only crossover, the F-Pace, just last year. The F-Pace is a midsized crossover in the same segment as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60.
For the Thai market, however, Jaguar is a rather niche brand without local production and suffers from high retail pricing due to the import duty, just like another competitor, the imported Porsche Macan that is in the Bt6-million range. While most rivals are priced from Bt3-4 million (even the imported Q5 gets special pricing that makes it competitive), the F-Pace diesel retails from Bt4.699 for the Pure trim, Bt5.499 million for the R-Sport and Bt5.999 million for the Portfolio featured today.
Not to put others down, but the Jag’s unique styling and excellent driving dynamics might still be able to lure driving enthusiasts looking for a no-nonsense crossover.
The F-Pace does stand out on the road with its curvaceous body. The sporty front mesh grill and large bulge on the bonnet hints to muscles and the Portfolio comes with huge 22-inch dark alloy wheels wearing low-profile tyres that add even more intimidation.
While the F-Pace’s spacious cabin, comfortable seats and luggage space (650-1740 litres) may seem to be a major attraction, it is actually the drive that will win customers to this crossover.
Although as a sister company Jaguar could have opted for a Land Rover platform for the F-Pace, it decided to stick to its own, sharing commons with the XE and XF saloons, with lots of aluminium being used in the structure. As a result, the F-Pace drives just like a car – this is one crossover that also delivers in dynamic driving.
The double wishbone-multilink suspension setup is firm and although the initial shock may be rounded off a bit, you should be prepared for a sportscar-level ride. And that’s in normal mode. There are not many adjustments you can make too, with a straightforward sport, normal and eco-driving modes to choose from. There is torque vectoring control, and the AWD system is fully automatic and runs as an RWD in normal driving conditions.
The steering is sharp and heavy, reminding you again this is no housewife vehicle. Unlike other SUVs, the F-Pace feels at home in corners, and those driving this baby up to the mountains will appreciate its excellent handling and road manners.
Those who want comfort must not even think about the F-Pace and move on to other premium crossovers in the market. I drove it for a couple of days and felt every speed bump on the road.
For the Thai market, only the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine is offered, in order to the keep prices low. The motor, which produces 180 horsepower and 430Nm of torque, is mated to a smooth shifting 8-speed automatic supplied by ZF, and gives the F-Pace acceptable performance.
As the engine starts, the gearshift dial emerges out of its housing, giving you a small rush every morning. You just turn it to the desired position – P, R, N, D, S. For manual mode, there are paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The side steps are usually hidden but are deployed when you enter and exit (didn’t like it though, it was easier to get in and out without them but shorter people and elders will be grateful).
Acceleration from 0-100km/h takes under 9 seconds, and it can break the 200km/h mark. The diesel is smooth and quiet and idle (I had to double check whether it was diesel or gasoline) but unfortunately, doesn’t deliver a roar you expect from a Jaguar when revved. But it does produce a nice, sporty note at a reasonable volume, to accompany the rather linear acceleration.
On the other hand, the diesel is economical and clean-burning, with average fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions claimed at 5.3 litres/100km and 139g/km respectively.
Apart from the usual stability and traction control, there are driver assistance systems such as rear cross traffic alert, park assist (parallel and perpendicular) and autonomous emergency braking.
There is a 10.2-inch touchscreen and a great-sounding 380-watt audio system from high-end British audio company Meridien, as well as navigation and Wi-Fi hotspot.
While the design is nice, with a strong sense of Jaguar (like the air vents that immediately made me think “Jaguar”) I wasn’t too happy with some of the materials, particularly plastics with cheap feel here and there. Knock on the door panel or wood veneer and you won’t like the sound.
The Jaguar F-Pace proves to be a highly-involving crossover to drive and one that provides a good environment to be in as well.
However, import duties make it a costly investment that would leave out the majority of buyers in a highly-competitive market. I guess that even in the present day, it’s still for the high society buyers who are willing to cough up more to get what they like best.
Jaguar F-Pace 2.0 AWD Portfolio
Engine: 4-cylinder 16-valve commonrail diesel with variable turbocharger
Bore and stroke: 83.0×92.4mm
Compression ratio: 15.5:1
Max power: 180ps/4,000rpm
Max torque: 430Nm/1,750-2,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Final drive ratio: 3.23
Average fuel consumption: 5.3 litres/100km
0-100km/h: 8.7 secs
Top speed: 208
Suspension (f/r): double wishbone/multi-link
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 12 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc
Track (f/r): 1,641/1,654
Ground clearance: 213mm
Weight: approx. 1,800kgs
Wheels: 22-inch alloy
Tires: 285/40 R22
Fuel tank capacity: 60 litres
Price: Bt5.999 million
Distributor: Jaguar Land Rover Thailand Co Ltd
Source : nationmultimedia.com