Esteemed British luxury car manufacturer Jaguar is well known for its range of premium saloons and sports coupes, but the world of SUVs is one that few would associate with the brand.
The likes of Mercedes, Audi and BMW have been churning out their Chelsea tractors for years, and with Porsche recently getting into the market as well it comes as little surprise that Jaguar has followed suit with the F-Pace.
With the prestige of the Jaguar badge comes a price, yet the F-Pace starts at a relatively modest £34,730 – although we got behind the wheel of the F-Pace S 3.0 litre V6, which will set you back £59,665 (with a few optional extras thrown in too).
A quick glance at the vehicle and there's no mistaking the iconic Jaguar looks, from the light blocks and commanding front grille to the sweeping side profile and tight rear end.
The design has been stretched to accommodate the larger chassis, and in places it doesn't look quite as elegant as the firm’s cars, which sit lower to the ground.
Engine: 3.0 litre V6 AWD Turbo Diesel
Maximum power: 300PS
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Top speed: 150mph
0-60mph: 5.8 seconds
Price: £59,665 (inc options)
- Italian Racing Red - £675
- 22” Double Helix Wheels - £1,600
- Activity Key - £300
- Privacy Glass - £375
It's a look that will appeal to fans though, and we were approached by a true Jaguar aficionado (he'd only ever owned Jags, and had an XE sitting on his drive) on the Suffolk coast who agreed that the F-Pace has managed to retain the quintessential look we've come to expect from the brand.
And while you'll find it draws a few admiring glances, it's a sophisticated look which doesn't scream out for attention.
Sliding into the driving seat, pressing the ignition button, gripping the steering wheel and gazing through the windshield as the engine comes to life from our elevated position, we felt immediately at home in the the Jaguar F-Pace.
Glance down at the digital dashboard and the Jaguar logo takes pride of place in the middle, but cast your eyes further round the cabin and things feel a little less Jag.
There's an abundance of grey/black plastic which isn't the most aesthetically pleasing, and which doesn't differ greatly from interiors in cars half the price.
That's not to say it's ugly – but if you're dropping £60k on a luxury SUV you might expect just a little more finesse inside.
Something which gave us great pleasure during our weekend away with the F-Pace was the gear select – it rises majestically from the centre console when you turn on the ignition, and its subtle, smooth motion melted our hearts every time.
It even had a satisfying resistance to it as you switch between park, drive and reverse. The sideways twists reminded us of our first experience of Apple’s click wheel on the iPad; a simple, yet enjoyable, novelty.
The V6 Turbocharged diesel engine, which delivers 300 horses direct to your right foot, tops out at 150mph, and will get you from a standing start to 60mph in 5.8 seconds – that's rather quick when you consider the F-Pace is a sizeable SUV and not a carbon fibre-clad sports car.
The ride is supremely smooth and comfortable, with the F-Pace effortlessly eating up the road, whether you're on the motorway, in town or on a scenic country track. It's always an enjoyable experience.
The comfort extends to inside the cabin, with the wide seats providing ample support, and the spacious, light interior ensures your passengers are equally well catered for.
A large 8-inch touchscreen sits atop the centre console, providing you with satellite navigation, radio controls and the ability to connect your phone to the car via Bluetooth.
Once your phone is connected you can make hands-free calls from the F-Pace, but it can always pull through music from your phone and we had our favourite Spotify playlists for company.
The steering wheel buttons enable you to control your Spotify songs – similar buttons on many cars don't – which means you can play, pause and skip without taking your eyes off the road.
Jaguar's on-screen interface is accompanied by some physical keys either side of the display for quick access to the core functions. The screen is responsive, but it's not the fastest system we've used.
The navigation is solid, with clear directions that are mirrored in the instrument cluster, which handily puts them in your eye line and stops the sideways glances to check your next turn.
Put the Jaguar F-Pace in reverse and the touchscreen switches to the view from the rear camera, helping you slide the car easily into parking bays. Parking sensors also provide alerts all around the car to ensure you don't hit anything that may not be in sight.
The final party piece from the Jaguar F-Pace is the Activity Key – an optional-extra, wearable key for those who are into outdoor pursuits and extreme sports.
This allows you to keep the clunky keyfob in the car as you grab your surfboard, wrap the Activity Key round your wrist and jog down the beach. At £300 it's pricey, but it'll have genuine use for a select few.
The Jaguar F-Pace gives you the excellent ride and supreme comfort you'd expect from the brand's cars, with a more commanding view of the road and a heap of extra space in the cabin.
No wonder it's the fast-selling Jaguar of all time, as it appeals to a wider demographic which takes in families and celebs alike.
The interior may not be the most premium, and the price tag may be a little steep for some, but once you're a few hundred miles in and the engine purrs as you squeeze the throttle you'll know it's worth it.
- John McCann is getting behind the wheel to give you an alternative look at the wealth of cars - and the tech inside them - available today. From superfast sports cars to tech-packed hatchbacks, he'll take you through a range of makes, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.