2017 Jaguar F-Pace Introduction

What’s this? A Jaguar truck? The ghost of Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons might moan in dismay, but a carmaker lacking a truck (words like sport-utility and crossover weren’t part of the automotive lexicon in Sir William’s day) is giving away sales in today’s market. And Jaguar is about a decade late to the game.

Arriving so late means that to have any chance of success the newcomer has to be exceptional. Does this new Jaguar measure up to that metric? Let’s come back to that.

First, the fundamentals. The Jaguar F-Pace is based on the same solid rear-wheel-drive structure that’s the foundation for the new Jaguar XE sedan, though the architecture has been expanded for the SUV; the new crossover sport-utility slots between the BMW X3 and X5 in terms of size. And it should weigh in at the low end of the compact crossover SUV scale, thanks to a body shell that’s 80 percent aluminum.

While its dimensions and tightly wrapped skin suggest athleticism, a suggestion vindicated by its dynamics, the Jaguar F-Pace also has a high usefulness index, thanks to a roominess advantage versus its prime competition, most of which hails from Germany.

Other strong points: infotainment and telematics that are several cuts above previous Jaguar systems; an excellent premium audio option; quiet operation; all-wheel drive is standard on all models; and respectable off-road performance augmented by a new system that allows the operator to select a specific speed for crawling up or down steep slopes.

At launch, F-Pace buyers have the choice of a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 in two levels of output: 340 horsepower or 380 hp, both rated for 332 pound-feet of torque. A turbodiesel is expected to join the powertrain inventory fall 2016. All engines transmit thrust through an 8-speed automatic transmission, primarily to the rear wheels, sending power to the front wheels when needed.

And, finally, there’s the value factor: price-wise, the F-Pace is at the low end of its competitive set.

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