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Real at last: this is Jaguar's F-Pace crossover

The Jag for outdoors types is here, and it’s got the Porsche Macan in its crosshairs

We’ve seen concepts and teasers, but this is it: the real, actual, production F-Pace, Jaguar’s first crossover. And it finds the British company in very fighty, positively feisty mood.

See, normally when you’re getting the lowdown on a new car, you might hear the odd covert mention of a rival. Not today, and not with the F-Pace. The Porsche Macan gets mentioned A LOT, and Jaguar wants to nuke its ass. With a side order of ordnance aimed squarely at the Audi Q5.

This isn’t quite mission impossible, but it’s certainly mission pretty tricky. The Macan in particular is the benchmark car in the sector, and a highly desirable vehicle full stop. Porsche can’t make ’em fast enough.

So while you might argue, as some senior internal Jag people apparently did, that a crossover is the opposite of what the company stands for, not building one leaves a hole in your product line-up the size of the Grand Canyon. Not to mention the bank balance.

There will be five main F-Pace variants: a 178bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel, in AWD or rear-drive form with a manual or auto ’box; a 237bhp petrol; a supercharged 3.0-litre petrol in 335bhp or 375bhp forms, and the 297bhp 3.0-litre twin turbodiesel.

It’s a great looking thing in the flesh, and close to the C-X17 concept that trailed it two years ago (they were done in parallel, we’re told). Imagine a mid-size SUV that’s eaten an F-Type, and you’re pretty much there.

No other crossover can legitimately claim kinship to the E-Type, but this one does, given the inspiration in the car’s rear lights and body sides.

No other crossover can claim kinship to the E-Type

“I don’t care if nobody picks up on it,” design director Ian Callum says firmly, “but I know it’s there.” He also rebuts accusations that today’s Jaguars are starting to look a bit samey. “If that’s your view, I offer no apologies. We’re building up a brand here.”

The F-Pace has a strong ‘want one’ factor, whatever your thoughts on the bigger picture. The tech that underpins it dramatically reinforces its case.

Jaguar now claims to be the industry leader in aluminium, and 80 per cent of the new car’s body structure is made of the stuff. In fact, its body-in-white weighs just 298kg, approximately the same as the much smaller Fiat 500 L.

There’s a piece that runs the whole side of the car that’s the biggest single casting Jaguar has ever done, and weighs just 5.8kg. (The entry-level F-Pace manual diesel weighs an impressively skinny-for-a-truck 1665kg overall.)

A third of that aluminium is recycled, a figure the company wants to increase. Impressively, despite the principles the car shares with the equally aluminium intensive XE and XF, 81 per cent of the F-Pace is unique. This is no superior parts-bin lash-up.

It also uses Jaguar’s brilliant integral multi-link rear suspension, and double wishbones upfront. The configuration has been modified for off-road duty, with strengthened lower arms and bonded bushes to better repel dust and dirt, but promises class-leading agility and turn-in.

Jaguar claims the car’s lateral stiffness is 50 per cent better than the Macan’s, and promises noticeably better compliance at the front than the P*****e.

Here’s another great nugget: because you sit higher in an SUV, and further away from the front wheels’ contact patch, the engineers haven’t just retuned the electric steering, they’ve added a fifth mounting on the rack compared to the XE and XF to preserve proper feel. Clearly it’s not all down to software algorithms.

We’ll do our best to get it stuck at some point…

Like its siblings, the F-Pace is available with passive dampers, adaptive damping, and the configurable dynamics package, which allows you to fiddle about with throttle, chassis and steering.

It’s clearly not a Land Rover, but the torque-on-demand all-wheel drive system – which uses a transfer case with a multi-plate clutch – gives it decent off-road chops. Jaguar’s proprietary Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD) takes charge of torque distribution. Rest assured we’ll do our best to get it stuck at some point.

As well as entering the market sector that has basically taken over the world, Jaguar is conscious that there’s a whole generation out there whose idea of connectivity has sod-all to do with what’s happening at the front wheels. So, like its saloon brothers, the F-Pace has what amounts to a full-blown PC tucked in its rear wheelarch somewhere, supporting a quadcore Intel processor, and mobile ethernet with a 1GB/second bandwidth.

This being a family ‘lifestyle’ vehicle, let us rejoice at the news that it can support four separate tablets/smartphones/ whatevers, thus preserving familial harmony on long journeys. There are also four USB ports, an armoury of apps, and some analogue but still enormously useful cup-holders.

The Active Key is a vogueish piece of wearable tech

Still on the ‘lifestyle’ tip, Jaguar’s Silicon Valley love-in has also given us the Activity Key, a vogueish piece of wearable tech which means you can leave the actual key in the car while you go kayaking, surfing, or base jumping, unlocking the car by presenting the wristband to the ‘J’ on the Jaguar logo on the tailgate. Cool.

Prices for the F-Pace start at £34,170. We suspect we’re not sticking our whatsits on the block by suggesting that this thing is going to fly out of the showrooms.

Assuming, of course, that Jaguar still has something as lo-tech as an actual showroom nowadays…

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