After months of teasing, Jaguar has released pictures, prices and specification details of the first SUV in its 80-year history
Jaguar has officially unveiled its F-Pace SUV, the first car of this sort in the company's history and one that has the potential to more than double its annual sales.
However, Jaguar claims the F-Pace has those cars licked on ride comfort, driving fun, rear legroom and boot space, thanks in part to its use of the lightweight and space-efficient aluminium chassis that underpins the new XE and XF saloons.
The F-Pace is still no featherweight at 1,665kg for the lightest, two-wheel-drive model, but the four-wheel-drive version does shave 23kg from the equivalent X3’s weight of 1,790kg. In addition to the use of aluminium, weight-saving tricks include a plastic tailgate.
All of this helps make the 2.0-litre diesel version of the F-Pace, which will account for the majority of sales, more efficient than its German rivals – at least when a manual gearbox is fitted.
In rear-wheel-drive form it is officially rated at 57.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 129g/km, while the four-wheel-drive version achieves 54.3mpg and 134g/km. By comparison, the 2.0-litre, four-wheel-drive X3 manages 52.3mpg and 142g/km.
The F-Pace's optional eight-speed automatic gearbox does, however, push up fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 3.4mpg and 5g/km respectively, whereas the auto version of the X3 is actually more efficient than the manual, matching the 54.3mpg of the manual Jag.
For those wanting more power, Jaguar will offer a pair of 3.0-litre V6 engines: a turbodiesel making 296bhp and a supercharged petrol with 375bhp. The latter gets the F-Pace to 60mph in just 5.1 seconds. And Jaguar is planning an even faster, "R" model with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8.
Jaguar claims the F-Pace will behave well off-road, despite having an on-road bias. It has fractionally more ground clearance than the Discovery Sport, a rival from Jaguar's sister company Land Rover. And while the Land Rover is still the better option should you want to cross a river, thanks to a wading depth of 700mm, the F-Pace's 525mm figure trumps the 500mm of the Audi Q5.
Technology that will be fitted to the F-Pace includes a camera-activated automatic braking system that can detect pedestrians as well as other cars. Plus, that camera reads road signs to keep you updated on the current speed limit – although when we tried it in the XE, it regularly suggested driving at 30mph on the motorway and 60mph in town, so hopefully it has been improved.
In a Jaguar first, top-spec Portfolio versions of the F-Pace are also available with a special waterproof wristband that acts as a key so you can lock the standard key in the car when you're off swimming, surfing or kayaking.
However, the most desirable tech is probably Jaguar's new in-dashboard entertainment system, dubbed "InControl Touch Pro"; this brings a 10.2-inch touchscreen, iPad-like speed and apps, and the ability to use the sort of pinch and swipe gestures that you do with your smartphone.
Jaguar claims InControl Touch Pro gives the F-Pace more processing power than a Boeing 777. But only the £65,275 First Edition version of the F-Pace, built to celebrate the car’s launch, gets the system as standard. With other specs it's likely to cost at least £2,000 to upgrade from the standard eight-inch screen.
The F-Pace is the production version of the C-X17 concept, which Jaguar displayed in 2013. And its looks and proportions remain faithful to the show car's.
Ian Callum, Jaguar's director of design, explained: “We received such an overwhelmingly positive response to the C-X17 concept that we just had to make it a reality.
Jaguar's decision to break from tradition and build an SUV makes a lot of sense given the popularity of these high-riding models. The company sold just 81,000 cars globally in 2014, while in the UK the figure was a paltry 15,000.
Such volumes simply aren’t enough to sustain it in the long-term; Audi and BMW shifted 158,000 and 148,000 respectively in the UK in 2014, and both sold more than 1.5 million cars globally.
The F-Pace will be built in Solihull alongside larger Land Rover products and the Jaguar XE, after £120 million was invested in the factory to prepare it for the F-Pace.
It is making its public debut at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show, and Telegraph Cars is reporting live from the event.
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