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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.


‘The modern father acts out several roles every day. I know I do. Worker, caregiver, driver – it’s a challenge to meet all the needs of your family and work life and leave space for yourself to enjoy the finer things. It’s what intrigues me most about F-PACE. A Jaguar SUV could be paradoxical; how could it play all the roles expected of it?

“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.

The first act begins. It’s 7.30am on a sunny Friday in May. I’m on the driveway, loading the family’s luggage into the exceptionally roomy boot of F-PACE. That’s two large Samsonites and a carry-on; I nearly tell her it’s about half-full, but don’t want to encourage her to pack more next time.

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.


When I’m between projects, there’s time for other parts of me to take over. Today, it’s about relaxing and running, finding my own space for once. Once I’ve finished the school run, I check my calls and messages to clear the decks: F-PACE’s InControl system even syncs with my iPhone apps, so I can use its touchscreen just like my mobile or iPad.

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.

Before I know it, we’ve reached the White Horse. An ancient chalk carving on these remote hillsides, and a personal favourite for clearing the head. I can finally enjoy my other role: trail runner. Steep hills, lonely paths and filmic views are fine rewards.

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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