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First drive: Jaguar F-Pace P400e. Image by Jaguar UK.

First drive: Jaguar F-Pace P400e
Jaguar adds a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle model to its updated F-Pace SUV line.

   



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Jaguar F-Pace P400e

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It's facelift time for the Jaguar F-Pace mid-sized SUV and not only does it gain mildly primped looks plus that swish new interior layout, but there's now a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to go at called the P400e. Despite its robust power outputs and on-paper performance, don't go into the ownership proposition expecting dynamic fireworks, otherwise you might be a touch disappointed; but do approach the F-Pace P400e as a supremely comfortable and refined conveyance, and you'll get along with it famously.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE
Pricing: F-Pace range from 40,860, P400e from 56,040, SE as tested from 58,955
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol plus 105kW electric motor and 17.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed ZF automatic
Body style: five-door plug-in hybrid SUV
CO2 emissions: 49g/km (VED Band 1-50 Alternative Fuel Cars: 0 first 12 months, then 465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 130.2mpg, 33 miles EV range
Top speed: 149mph (hybrid, 87mph electric)
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Power: petrol 300hp at 5,500rpm, electric 143hp, system maximum output 404hp
Torque: petrol 400Nm at 1,500-4,400rpm, electric 275Nm, system maximum output 640Nm
Boot space: 476-1,668 litres

What's this?

Just as with the storming F-Pace SVR flagship we drove the other day, the wider 2021 model year F-Pace range benefits from the 'double-J' daytime running light signatures at the front and then the 'chicane' LED lamp graphics at the rear, both inspired by the I-Pace EV, while there's some tousling of the bumpers, grilles and intakes to suit. It's not quite as dramatic in looks as the aggressive SVR, but the updated F-Pace is still a handsome bit of kit; and you'll only spot this is the PHEV model if you clock either the ultra-discreet 'P400e' boot badging or the fact it appears to have fuel-filler caps on both of its rear flanks. Other than that, petrol-electric Jaguar SUV is much as pure-petrol or straight-diesel Jaguar SUV.

It's the same story of familiarity within, too, although obviously the P400e - as a 2021MY F-Pace - has the sublime new cabin architecture and Pivi Pro 11.4-inch infotainment system that makes it pretty much unbeatable in this class in terms of interior ambience. There are extra hybrid management displays in the super-clear digital displays and there's a small 'EV' button just aft of the rotary mode-switching dial on the centre console, which cycles through Hybrid, EV and Save settings on the move, but other than that this looks just as splendid as the other F-Pace cabins - with the obvious caveat that it lacks for the sensational bucket seats of the SVR, while owners must also sacrifice fully 174 litres of boot space in order to accommodate the hybrid electrical magubbins underneath.

As a final operational note, the P400e drivetrain is available in both 'normal' F-Pace spec, with a hierarchy here running S, SE and then HSE, or sportier R-Dynamic trim, again suffixed by S, SE and HSE trims. Our test car was a plain SE, making it one of the most affordable of P400e grades available, but that still means an asking price of just 45 notes shy of 59 grand. Meaty, when the updated F-Pace range begins at 41,000 and offers some lovely Ingenium turbocharged petrol and diesel drivetrain alternatives to buyers. It's clearly going to appeal to business users more than private customers, thanks to its lower BIK and other tax rates, then, but can it convince us to recommend it to you if you're not a company car user-chooser?

How does it drive?

Jaguar has launched this F-Pace P400e PHEV alongside a smaller P300e variant of the E-Pace, also updated for 2021MY. Now, beyond the obvious difference under the bonnet, where the P400e uses a four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine and the P300e deploys a charming little 1.5-litre three-pot motor, there are also differences in their mechanical make-up. The smaller E-Pace has an Aisin, not a ZF, gearbox and it also has an ERAD, which is not actually the mysterious Israeli special forces officer from Sacha Baron Cohen's outrageous Who Is America? series, but in fact an electric rear-axle drive. This is unusual, because the only time we've seen something named ERAD before, it was on the trailing wheels of the rare-groove Polestar 1. Most PHEVs these days prefer to sandwich their electric motor in the gearbox and shove the battery pack out under the boot at the back.

It's this second set-up that is employed by the F-Pace P400e, its 105kW (143hp) electric motor residing in an eight-speed ZF torque-converter auto, with the 17.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted at the back of the car. This means that the F-Pace needs a physical propshaft between its axles, whereas the E-Pace PHEV is one of those weird AWD vehicles with no 'hard' link between the driven wheels - the petrol engine handles the front axle and the electric motor the rears.

To be honest, we prefer the F-Pace's arrangement, mainly because its more potent motor allows for driving in all-electric mode of up to 87mph. This builds upon its fabulous refinement, as this is a superb vehicle to travel around in at pretty much all speeds. Its ride is compliant and cushioning in towns, it's exquisitely controlled on open A-roads, and it's borderline imperious out on the motorway, while what feels like masses of sound-deadening ensures that the cabin is quiet, whether the 300hp/400Nm 2.0-litre Ingenium four-pot up front is working its hardest or having one of its frequent naps and letting the electric motor do all the work instead. Indeed, 'cathedral-like' would perhaps be an insult to the F-Pace P400e's silken demeanour, because the interiors of the largest houses of God are positively rowdy places compared to the Jag's cabin in zero-emissions mode.

You won't want for pace, either, which is apposite given this particular SUV's model name. Hooked up, the petrol electric drivetrain delivers the goods in a manner which will leave you in no doubt whatsoever about the veracity of its 404hp/640Nm claims. That there's only one faster F-Pace than this, and it's one with the long-serving supercharged V8, is testament to how much power engineers can screw out of an electrically augmented turbo-petrol four these days. Not only is the P400e's drivetrain super-smooth and suitably insistent right around the dial, it makes a good noise too. This is because the Jaguar uses active noise cancellation, a key part of its near-immaculate performance for cruising and sound suppression, but it's also a system which can enhance the voice of the Ingenium. Frankly, while some are against artificial engine tunes being pumped into the cabin of cars through the speakers, if it's done right we've got no qualms with the tech. And the F-Pace P400e has sound synthesis done right; the PHEV SUV has a throaty, appealing noise as it revs beyond 4,000rpm and up to the redline, one that sounds sporty four-cylinder in both note and tone.

If all this is sounding incredibly positive, allow us to temper your enthusiasm somewhat. There's a problem with the F-Pace P400e and that's weight. Despite the use of a relatively compact 2.0-litre engine, with a battery pack and electric motor/gearbox combination plus inverters and all the necessary charging cabling onboard, the Jaguar clocks in at 2,189kg. This sheer mass suffuses every aspect of its behaviour in the corners, where it doesn't feel anything like as capable or fluid as its conventionally powered stablemates. There's a strange, two-stage lateral movement to the body if you ask it to make rapid direction changes, while there's not much clarity being fed back to the driver regarding the levels of grip. Glassy understeer can come on quite suddenly in corners if you're ambitious with entry speed, so you need to be on your toes to prevent that, and then the braking also doesn't inspire incredible confidence in terms of initial pedal feel. This is most certainly a PHEV that is far happier being driven a touch within itself, rather than right on the limits.

Add in that we only saw 30mpg during a cross-country thrash with a full battery pack available to us at the test's kick-off and you can see the bulk of the F-Pace P400e is its defining feature. Now, we'd normally cut a PHEV SUV some slack for this kind of handling pay-off to the usual economy and CO2 benefits the electric running gear brings, because few people buy tax-busting petrol-electric family vehicles and then ask them to handle like hot hatchbacks. But as Jaguar is a company which prides itself on its dynamism and as the F-Pace is such a good SUV to drive in its normal formats, we can't ignore the obvious detrimental effect the PHEV option has on the chassis of this model.

Verdict

The usual PHEV lament comes here for the Jaguar F-Pace P400e: if all you want is a classy, quiet and comfortable SUV with some tax benefits for company usage, and/or you can best make the most of its 33-mile all-electric driving range with regular plug-in recharging and lots of short, zero-emissions journeys, it is of course a most worthwhile addition to the canon of a mid-sized SUV that looks smart on the outside and thoroughly terrific on the inside as part of 2021MY updates; but if you're buying a Jag SUV because you think it'll drive better than equivalent vehicles from other marques, then you're probably going to be best-placed sticking with one of the regular petrol or diesel F-Pace models instead - especially as they're almost all cheaper than this rather pricey and somewhat dulled in the handling department P400e.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 10 Mar 2021



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2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.

2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400e SE. Image by Jaguar UK.








 

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