There are four engines available at launch, in six different configurations. That includes four mild-hybrids (in 2.0- and 3.0-litre diesel and 3.0-litre petrol guise) one non-assisted inline-four petrol and a plug-in hybrid with the same 2.0-litre four-pot petrol. We’re driving the P400, which is fitted with the big 3.0-litre inline-six petrol, and the mild-hybrid system.
The engine is a supercharged and turbocharged 400PS (294kW) unit, also shoving out 550Nm (406lb ft) of torque. The supercharger is now electrically-powered and is supported by the twin-scroll turbocharger to smooth the delivery of power through the range. It has an eight-speed automatic gearbox from ZF and all-wheel-drive, which is coupled to that hybrid system. A generator at the front recuperates energy when you lift off the throttle, sending that electricity to a 48V Lithium-ion battery just under the rear seats. A converter at the rear axle then helps to recharge the battery (taking pressure off the alternator) and power various electrical gizmos, while the motor on the front can help to redeploy the energy as torque in what Jaguar calls “transient acceleration”. To put it in much easier terms, the car grabs back wasted energy and turns it into power for the infotainment etc. and a little extra torque boost in mid-range acceleration – the time between actually getting moving and really reaching higher speeds.
While we haven’t driven the 2.0-litre four in the F-Pace, we have in the XF, where it felt a bit underwhelming without a hybrid system. The 3.0-litre six, mated with the extra electrics, feels more like the choice for enjoyment now. And it is a good engine, with the extra torque fill of that small hybrid system and its mixed super- and turbochargers it feels lively and ready to go through the rev range. Power is all found at the top, 5,500rpm being the sweet spot, and torque comes on song at a relatively high 2,000rpm, but stays pretty consistent though the range.
The handling is good for a big, high-riding SUV, with little in the way of roll to be found through the twists, especially compared to the rather wobbly nature of its predecessor. Sadly that extra firmness, coupled with giant 22-inch rims and tough sports seats does make this particular F-Pace feel a little jiggly over bumpy roads or around town. We’d probably recommend going for some smaller rims to offset the firmer damping. Steering is decent, although weighted a little bit too much at times when it isn’t needed, making it a little jerky if you’re not careful. But overall the fastest new F-Pace is an enjoyable drive.