TEST DRIVERS: JAGUAR F-PACE
We’re asking a select group of drivers to put our new models through their paces and report back. This month, we’ve asked guest driver Ed Chipperfield - journalist, father-of-one, and keen trail runner - to put F-PACE to the test. How does the first Jaguar SUV live up to the varied demands of family life?
I can’t help but keep looking. There’s an F-PACE outside my house, the debut SUV from Jaguar. I can see the Jaguar DNA right away; the sweeping curves, the bold styling, ready to pounce. I can also see my family in it with room to spare. I’m a man with varied needs, though: can F-PACE really meet them all? Today, I’ll find out for myself.
OUR DRIVER WRITES…
“It sounds perfect,” said my wife, packing her suitcases for a weekend away with friends. “You’ll need it to drop me at the station.” A long weekend for her means long drives for me, my son and F-PACE: the perfect chance to put this paradox to the test.
Strapping my six-year old into his seat in the back, I’m pleased by the generous legroom back there. His school shoes are a comfortable distance from the back of the driver’s seat – well out of kicking range. It’s half an hour to Heathrow, and a little longer on the way back. Luckily, I’ve brought the iPad, linked up to F-PACE’s WiFi Hotspot. It’s a third faster than standard mobiles, and certainly two-thirds better than asking if we’re nearly there yet.
A CAR THAT TRANSFORMS YOU
Now I can really see the F-PACE’s range. I take the A34 south, away from the spires of Oxford, opening up towards the rolling hills of the North Wessex Downs, with F-PACE’s 3-litre V6 making light work of the steepest inclines. It really does feel sporty; it’s the graceful lightness of the car, which is over 80% aluminium.
I exit at Compton and follow the sinuous curves of the chalk downs, F-PACE’s dynamic handling feeling even more exceptional. It has confident, stable cornering, smooth braking without the nose dipping, and even on rough tracks the ride is flat and bounce-free.
On a short off-road detour the dusty chalk tracks, long grass and mud cause the Adaptive Surface Response to activate. It recognises the changes in surface and alters the drive to maintain the best traction. I’m satisfied that F-PACE is looking out for me – even on slippy, grassy banks, it feels as though we’re being pulled up safely.
I’m helped by yet another smart F-PACE feature. The Activity Key is a wearable, weatherproof strap that locks the F-PACE wirelessly, so I can leave the car keys in there while I run. It’s something less to worry about when you’re getting away from it all.
I’m back in the F-PACE just in time to return for school pick-up – it’s going to be close, but it’s hard to worry behind the wheel of a car like this. It’s like an excellent character actor: distinctive, familiar in its heritage and talent, but able to meet nearly any role with its own interpretation. Graceful, powerful. Sporty and practical. A family-friendly car that gives you something personal back – something that’s just for you. At least, when you get the time off to enjoy it.
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