Jaguar F-Pace (India made) first drive review: Desi billa is decent value for money

Tushar Burman

Back in 2016, when the Jaguar F-Pace was launched in India, we were still on a high, chest-thumping Tata Motors' acquisition and subsequent sexy launches. The launch event was swish, the launch video was unprecedented (we haven't had the Bandra-Worli Sea Link shut down for a car shoot since). And the F-Pace deserved the attention. It was Jaguar's first SUV and it, well, looked like it does.

Jaguar F-Pace.

Jaguar F-Pace.

A couple of years on, and the F-Pace still holds its own. There isn't anything quite like it. Sure, you can buy one of the other European coupe-shaped SUVs, but those have all the poise and elegance of an Ed Hardy t-shirt. For 2019, Jaguar India is offering just two variants of the SUV €" petrol, and a diesel. We sampled the 2.0-litre 'Prestige' petrol version that costs Rs 63.17 lac, ex-showroom.

Jaguar is now using their relatively-new 'Ingenium' lightweight motors. When I first drove the F-Pace, I was given a model using the older diesel motor. It still looked the way it does, but at the time, the performance was underwhelming. It was adequate but felt heavy. The same motor (naturally) felt much more sprightly in the small XE sedan.

I'm happy to report that the new petrol F-Pace feels like a different feline. 250 hp and 365 Nm doesn't sound like much for a vehicle this size, but the 8-speed automatic transmission makes good use of the available power, and it's very easy to shatter speed limits. In fact, the height and refinement of the petrol F-Pace make high-speed cruising a drama-free affair, as we discovered on a Pune Expressway run. There are various driving modes, as well as a sport mode for the transmission, which makes things quite responsive. You will occasionally feel a jerk at low speed when the car systems decide you need to quickly go down a gear, but it's tolerable.

Jaguar F-Pace.

Jaguar F-Pace.

The F-Pace is only available in AWD (All-Wheel Drive), but we're happy to report that the efficiency remains acceptable. A full tank showed over 500 km of range, and after doing about 250km, the needle dropped to half-tank. This is a luxury SUV/crossover, and not something you're likely to take clambering over rocks, so performance is decidedly tuned for road comfort. The 19-inch wheels are shod with tyres of a respectable height, making the ride slightly firm, but acceptable. Body roll is controlled and handling feels sharp and sporty €" things one couldn't have said about the old diesel, mostly due to its generally lazy motor.

On the inside, you get a fair bit of equipment. There's a panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control, 380 w Meridian sound system that feels musical and well-controlled. There's a 10-inch infotainment screen similar to what we've seen in recent Land Rovers, and a 12-inch screen for the driver binnacle. Seats feel nice, are premium leather, as are so many wrapped surfaces. There's interior ambient lighting too, but I found it to be a little overdone compared to some of its peers. Bluetooth worked quickly and well, but I didn't bother connecting any of Jaguar's 'InControl' apps. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are barely tolerable in most cars, so I tend not to bother with any custom solutions. I did try the voice command system, and it was unusable, as it is in most cars.

Jaguar F-Pace.

Jaguar F-Pace.

A curious characteristic of the F-Pace is that it feels larger outside than on the inside. Parking it takes a little more attention than I'm used to paying, thanks to the bulging arches and sheet metal. On the inside, it's surprisingly compact €" we'd go road-tripping with four passengers, bringing a child only if it's not a favourite. There are 12 V sockets for the second row, but we'd like to start seeing USB-C and wireless charging. These days, cars are becoming as much fo a tangled mess of chargers and wires as the bedside table.

Another niggle was that the rear parking camera tends to get very dirty, to the point of being unusable. The night mode isn't great either. Omissions in equipment include a passenger seat memory function, power-adjustable steering and a powered tailgate, but I suppose choices must be made.

Now that it's assembled in India, the F-Pace at Rs 63.17 lakh is a decent value and certainly sets the owner apart from the usual Teutonic brigade. It's also much easier to buy. You just say "SUV", and are asked "petrol or diesel?". The alternative is picking from four or five different letters/numbers in a German SUV, then fuel type, trim, etc. In this tax bracket, you shouldn't need to make spreadsheets yourself. There are CAs for that.

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