Jaguar F-Pace P400 MHEV R-Dynamic SEJaguar F-Pace P400 MHEV R-Dynamic SE

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First Drive: Behind the wheel of the new 2021 Jaguar F-Pace

Time 3 months ago

The premium SUV market is hard fought, with various high-end manufacturers all keen for a slice of one very profitable pie.

What with its links to Land Rover, Jaguar is perhaps better placed than most to compete in this segment – and the F-Pace is its competitor.

Unlike its sibling brand, Jaguar’s effort is decidedly road-focused, trading on its gorgeous styling and great driving dynamics.

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However, with rivals getting better and better all the time, the F-Pace was due an update to remain hot on the heels of the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.

Jaguar F-Pace P400 MHEV R-Dynamic SE engine

What’s under the bonnet?

Jaguar is pushing electrification with the 2021 F-Pace, with all three diesels being mild hybrids (MHEV) – two with 2.0-litre four-cylinder units and one six-cylinder.

As for petrol, there’s a 2.0-litre four-pot, an MHEV with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder, and a plug-in hybrid that uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with an electric motor.

On our test drive, we got behind the wheel of the P400, which is the 3.0-litre MHEV petrol.

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It makes 394bhp and 550Nm of torque, which gets it from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds.

Although the figures are impressive, this is quite a heavy vehicle, so it feels like it needs working for any reward – a torquier diesel or PHEV would likely be better suited.

What’s it like to drive?

One of the F-Pace’s key selling points has long been the fact it’s great to drive, being comfortable over longer distances but also fun and grippy in the corners.

However, one of the downsides was always the fact it would feel very top heavy in a corner, but now it’s much more planted.

The result is that aside from the high driving position, the F-Pace feels more like a big car than an SUV – a trick only the Alfa Romeo Stelvio currently pulls off to this level.

This hasn’t come at the sacrifice of a comfortable ride quality either, while the active road noise cancellation helps make the new F-Pace a relaxing place in which to clock up the miles.

How does it look?

As we’ve said, the F-Pace was already arguably the best-looking car in this segment, so it’s no surprise to see that Jaguar has largely left it well alone, with the few changes more about refining than altering.

So what has Jaguar done? Well, there’s a new bonnet design, slim LED headlights with a double-L light signature, a new grille and new rear lights.

However, if we were to pick fault, despite its elegant details the F-Pace does nothing to hide its heft, dwarfing other cars on the road. There’s little in the way of subtlety here.

Jaguar F-Pace P400 MHEV R-Dynamic SE interior

What’s it like inside?

If you’re well versed on the F-Pace, you’ll see that the interior is where the real changes have taken place, and you can’t underestimate the difference a quality cabin can make to the perceived quality on offer.

From the moment you climb behind the wheel, the interior ambience is clearly impressively elevated, with a slick, minimalist design and a high-quality tablet-like infotainment screen.

Meanwhile, the red leather upholstery of our test car looked brilliant, particularly with the sports seats, while the latest Pivi Pro infotainment system has one of the best designs in the business.

What’s the spec like?

The regular F-Pace starts at £40,860 and includes LED headlights, LED tail-lights, heated elements all round, 19-inch alloy wheels, two-zone climate control plus the new infotainment system.

Opt for the sporty-looking R-Dynamic model, starting at £42,960, and you get a sporty body kit.

Meanwhile, the high-performance SVR starts at £77,595 and gets lairy styling, a powerful V8, upgraded sound system and loads of mechanical upgrades to improve performance.

If you go for the SVR, it’s only available as its own standalone trim, but select either of the other two and you’re then presented with various specification packs that upgrade the equipment on offer.

Verdict

Jaguar has long been punching above its weight in the premium SUV market, which is dominated by much bigger brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

However, with this updated F-Pace, the gap has closed considerably to the point where it’s level with the best in its class.

Fair play to Jaguar. It has figured out what needed to be improved and hasn’t wasted time changing what was already great, meaning there’s real substance beneath the style.

If you’re looking for a large, spacious family SUV that’ll turn heads at the school gates, the F-Pace should be one of the first models on your shopping list.

The knowledge

Model as tested: Jaguar F-Pace P400 MHEV R-Dynamic SE
Price as tested: £61,115
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol
Power: 394bhp
Torque: 550Nm
Max speed: 155mph
0-60mph: 5.1 seconds
MPG: 28.8
Emissions: 221g/km CO2

Target buyers

Affluent families looking for a stylish yet practical SUV.

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The rivals

BMW X5, Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLC.

Key selling points

Looks great
Comfortable and fun to drive
Interior is one of the best in this class

Deal clincher

Stylish, great to drive, and now with an interior that does the rest justice.

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