AT A GLANCE

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from alu­minium. Jaguar has made it­self one of the lead­ers in this field, for in­stance pi­o­neer­ing the devel­op­ment of spe­cial al­loys us­ing re­cy­cled alu­minium. But de­spite the wide­spread use of a me­tal renowned for be­ing lighter than steel, the var­i­ous mod­els aren’t es­pe­cially light.

For the F-Pace’s in­tro­duc­tion to in­ter­na­tional me­dia, Jaguar chose Mon­tene­gro. This small Balkan coun­try, part of what used to be Yu­goslavia, has spec­tac­u­lar tra­verses by roads that range from awe­some to aw­ful. Some are so poorly main­tained they make an Aus­tralian feel right at home.

Han­dling and ride com­fort — at least in the high-end six­cylin­der mod­els Jaguar brought to Mon­tene­gro — are clearly a cut above class av­er­age.

The F-Pace has su­perb steer­ing and strong brakes. Its sus­pen­sion deals very well with bumps and bends alike.

En­gine op­tions are a 2.0litre turbo diesel four (132kW), 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 (221kW) and high-tuned ver­sions of the com­pany’s su­per­charged 3.0-litre petrol V6 (250kW and 280kW).

All are teamed with an eight-speed au­to­matic and all­wheel-drive (there will be reardrive F-Paces in some other mar­kets). Most Aus­tralian buy­ers will choose the diesel.

Carsguide sam­pled the V6 turbo diesel and the high-power su­per­charged petrol V6.

Both are pow­er­ful, smooth and sat­is­fy­ing to drive. Both made over­tak­ing slow-mov­ing Mon­tene­grins — which is most of them — very easy.

The in­te­rior is spa­cious, with a roomier rear seat than its com­peti­tors. The large 650L cargo com­part­ment is also class-lead­ing, Jaguar claims. Up­front, the F-Pace’s high and wide cen­tre con­sole helps cre­ate a snug, car-like am­bi­ence for driver and pas­sen­ger. Maybe a lit­tle too snug for those with long legs.

The F-Pace’s pre­mium in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem fea­tures a wide 10.2-inch touch­screen, thought­not all of its tricks — such as Google Earth route dis­play when us­ing sat­nav and the mo­bile Wi-Fi hotspot — will work in Aus­tralia at the time of launch.

The in­stru­ment panel uses the same ba­sic tiered lay­out as seen in Jaguar’s sedans. If the F-Pace has a weak­ness rel­a­tive to the com­pe­ti­tion, it’s that de­sign and qual­ity in this area aren’t a match for the Ger­mans.

But there’s noth­ing im­por­tant miss­ing from the F-Pace’s list of stan­dard safety equip­ment. It’s the first Jaguar to in­clude pedes­trian de­tec­tion in its au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing tech. The F-Pace will slam on its brakes for peo­ple as well as parked cars when there’s the dan­ger of a col­li­sion.

Pric­ing is fairly com­pet­i­tive. The cheap­est F-Pace will be the $74,340 four-cylin­der turbo diesel 20d in ba­sic Pres­tige equip­ment grade. Prices rise from this point through the more pow­er­ful en­gine op­tions and the more highly equipped R-Sport, Port­fo­lio and S grades, top­ping out with the $103,420 S, pack­ing the 280kW su­per­charged V6.

Tem­po­rar­ily, how­ever, the most ex­pen­sive F-Pace mod­els will be the First Edi­tion ver­sions. Jaguar will pro­duce only 2000 ex­am­ples, fit­ted with ev­ery op­tion in the book, plus spe­cial 22-inch wheels and in a choice of two cus­tom paint colours (in­clud­ing the Cae­sium Blue seen in the pho­to­graphs).

They will sell on a first­come, first-served ba­sis. Aus­tralian prices will be $117,210 for a First Edi­tion with the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel and $120,700 with the su­per­charged V6.

IT’S ev­ery­thing the E-Type wasn’t yet Jaguar’s new SUV will be the most pop­u­lar model the com­pany has ever built.

So says de­sign di­rec­tor, Ian Cal­lum. “I think it’s go­ing to be the best-sell­ing Jaguar ever.”

The F-Pace, which goes on sale in Aus­tralia in July priced from $74,340, is high, wide and roomy. And it’s Jaguar’s first shot at claim­ing a slice of the SUV­boom ac­tion.

“The world is mov­ing to these sorts of ve­hi­cle,” says Cal­lum, even though their size and shape aren’t good for ef­fi­ciency. “So there’s a whole is­sue of: ‘Is it the right car for the world at this time?’”

“But, you know, at the end of the day, cus­tomers de­cide,” he says. “And it was very clear to us when we asked around the world, par­tic­u­larly in China and the US, that this is what peo­ple wanted. So we pro­duced it.”

The Jaguar faces es­tab­lished mod­els from mak­ers who moved ear­lier to ex­ploit the trend; Audi Q5, BMW X3 (and X4), Mercedes-Benz GLC, Lexus NX, Porsche Ma­can and Volvo XC60. But it has the right stuff to take them all on.

In char­ac­ter, the F-Pace is clos­est to the Ma­can. Like Porsche, Jaguar chose to put the em­pha­sis on stylish looks and sporty driv­ing.

The ex­te­rior in­cor­po­rates de­sign el­e­ments bor­rowed from the F-Type sports car — the shape of the tail-lights is the ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple — as well as the more re­cent XE and XF sedans. Much of the driv­ing tech­nol­ogy in the F-Pace is also used in other Jaguars.

The list in­cludes the SUV’s four- and six-cylin­der petrol and diesel en­gines, auto trans­mis­sion, all-wheel-drive setup and some sus­pen­sion parts. Noth­ing wrong with this; Jaguar’s fresh­est mod­els are mostly de­light­ful to drive.

The body is made mainly

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