Even Jaguar had to eventually succumb to the world’s obsession with SUVs. A heritage of revolutionary sports sedans and sleek sports cars is all very well, but no car maker wants a history without a future.
We’ve seen it before, of course, with Porsche and the Cayenne, and Jaguar also expects to get the cream with its F-Pace become its best-selling model – at last pushing Jaguar’s global sales past 100,000. Comfortably.
All can easily be forgotten, too, if the F-Pace drives like a high-riding F-Type as we’re being promised (there’s even some deliberate visual cues transferred, especially at the rear).
And in the sportiest-for-now F-Pace S 35t variant, this long-legged cat certainly doesn’t go all wobbly at the knees on a winding road. The F-Pace has a pointy front end directed by quick steering, and is grippy and neutrally balanced with limited roll through corners – especially in the firmer setting of the S model’s standard adaptive suspension.
There’s a firmness to the way the F-Pace traverses country roads, even in Comfort mode, though early impressions are that, even on 20-inch wheels, can strike a similarly excellent ride-handling balance to the Jaguar XE with which it shares its basic, aluminium-intensive architecture.
There’s an on-demand all-wheel-drive system, though the bias to the rear wheels can be highlighted with a strong prod of the accelerator out of tight corners.
The steering’s lack of weighting, even under load, will lose it points against Porsche’s rival Macan but the F-Pace’s chassis is otherwise in the right ballpark to set up a fascinating duel.
Expect the company’s 5.0-litre V8 to eventually slot under the F-Pace’s relatively long bonnet. For now, the sportiest variant is the S 35t with its 280kW/450Nm 3.0-litre V6 that generates ample cross-country speed.
And importantly for an SUV, practicality boxes are ticked with a 508-litre boot and claimed benchmark rear seat legroom.
If Jaguar had to build one, at least it seems to have put its best paw forward.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
SPECS: JAGUAR F-PACE S 35t
Engine: 2995cc V6, DOHC, 16v, supercharged
Power: 280kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 450Nm @ 4500rpm
Weight: From 1860kg
0-100km/h: 5.5sec (claimed)