Unless you fancy going for the boisterous SVR model, the fastest variant in the revised Jaguar F-Pace SUV range is this new 404hp plug-in hybrid derivative. It's also the most frugal to run, in principle, but just how good is the F-Pace P400e in practice?
In the Metal:
Jaguar has taken the opportunity to update the entire F-Pace range for 2021 and that means subtly revised looks on the outside of all models, not just this 'P400e' plug-in hybrid variant. So what you're looking for here are the new LED headlights with their 'double-J' daytime-running lamp signatures, rear LED clusters that no longer take their inspiration from the pre-facelift F-Type, but instead look more like those you'd find adorning the back of the fully electric I-Pace SUV, a reshaped bonnet to accommodate the slimmer illumination units at the front, and then revised bumpers fore and aft, resulting in different outer air intakes in the Jaguar's chin. Net result is that an SUV that's always been good-looking continues to be good-looking now, only a tiny bit more so with the refresher course of modest plastic surgery.
There's nothing modest about the cabin updates, though, because Jaguar has gone to town on this thing and pulled off an absolute blinder. As we said in our review of the SVR, it's not that the F-Pace had an actively poor passenger compartment before, but the significant changes wrought in here transform it, in our opinion, into the best interior in this class. The chief item in the upgrade is the crystal-clear, immensely attractive 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system presented on a fancy curved-glass display and, before those of you who have 'touchscreen fatigue' start worrying that all the Jag's key functions are lumped into it at the expense of all common-sense ergonomics, fear not; the company says the vast majority of the features of Pivi Pro are accessible with only two taps of the screen.
And the climate controls aren't in there - they're now presented on those lovely part-digital rotary dials that Jaguar Land Rover is fond of using these days, which you press in to activate the heated/cooled seats, pull out to change the fan speed and then just rotate in the 'neutral' position to alter the temperature. They look superb and work sensibly. Another nice touch here is the discreet 'Est 1935 Jaguar Coventry' logo above the controls and then your eyes move upwards to a new, horizontal dash structure with a two-tier array of quality wood trim (if you select it) and plush hide covering. This looks far cleaner and more modern than the old F-Pace fascia, as does the enhanced digital instrument cluster, the pin-sharp head-up display, the beautiful new steering wheel (size, shape, feel, glorious metal paddle-shifts and switchgear, they're all absolutely spot-on) and the stumpy little gear lever that's finished in cricket-ball stitching. Beyond all this goodness, you won't find cheap-feeling plastic anywhere obvious in the F-Pace's interior and it retains the spacious second row of seats it has always had, although boot space is down 174 litres on the regular F-Pace models, thanks to accommodating the battery pack underneath the rear of the car. Nevertheless, aesthetically speaking, there's little to fault about the revised Jaguar SUV.
The P400e, as it is properly known, uses a drivetrain already seen in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport lines, and one that will be employed in the updated Velar and new Land Rover Defender families soon too. It's basically what Jaguar would term the 'P300' four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 300hp/400Nm, augmented with a 105kW/275Nm electric motor that is housed in the eight-speed ZF transmission to deliver peak system outputs of 404hp and 640Nm.
That makes it the most powerful F-Pace this side of the mighty SVR and yet, of course, as a plug-in hybrid it's also arguably the most sensible choice due to its low CO2 figures. Officially, the P400e emits just 49g/km and can return up to 130.2mpg (2.2 litres/100km), while it also has an all-electric range of 53km - and, in zero-emissions mode, it can travel at up to 140km/h without any recourse to its petrol engine at all. Charging is also swift, because while the F-Pace P400e can juice up on a 7kW AC wallbox connection like so many other plug-in hybrids, it further has the ability to charge at up to 32kW on a DC hook-up. So you'll get 0-80 per cent charge in just half-an-hour on a DC point, or one hour 40 minutes at an AC wallbox.
Regrettably, all this clever part-electric technology and cabin plushness means that the P400e is no featherweight. In fact, it tips the scales just 11kg shy of 2.2 tonnes, which in turn results in handling that's not as rewarding as on other F-Paces we've tried over the years. There's a strange 'double-bob' to the body control if you ask the Jaguar to make rapid direction changes, which throws your head from side to side long after you've straightened the steering wheel to complete the move, and there's also an odd sensation of torque-vectoring in corners that doesn't feel fully resolved. Admittedly, understeer is admirably resisted in the F-Pace plug-in hybrid and the brakes deserve credit too, because they bite strongly and feel natural underfoot despite their regenerative properties, but to hustle the P400e along a twisting road is to expose its heavy chassis to an experience it's not entirely comfortable with.
Having said that, while the handling is only so-so, the rest of the F-Pace plug-in driving experience is delightful. It's a supremely refined machine, using active noise cancellation technology to eradicate as much wind and road noise as it can at higher speeds. True, on poorer and rougher motorway surfaces, elevated levels of rumbling from the wide tyres (the P400e SE runs on 20-inch wheels here in Ireland, but our test car was fitted with optional 21s with 265-section tyres) can be heard in the interior, but these never attain a disagreeable volume. For the majority of the time, it's eerily quiet in the cabin of the Jaguar and that counts double when it's whirring along in pure electric mode, where it's the epitome of 'cultured'. It's helped here by suspension that provides a sumptuous and comfortable ride quality.
Like many a plug-in hybrid, the Jaguar offers three basic battery management modes of Hybrid, EV and Save, which allow you to employ or preserve the electric power available as you so wish. On the flipside of all this eco-posturing, it's properly quick if you want it to be. There's some engine/exhaust augmentation of the 2.0-litre's exertions going on once it has kicked into life and is revving hard, but the engine always remains smooth and insistent right out to the 6,000rpm redline, and the degree of sound synthesis Jaguar has enacted on the four-cylinder is actually quite pleasant. Great gearbox, too, with good responses in fully automatic mode, slick and imperceptible shifts when you're just cruising, and smart changes using those gorgeous paddles behind the steering wheel as well.
As to the actual credibility of the eco claims, we've no reason to doubt Jaguar. On a cold day and using plenty of drains on the battery, the all-electric range of 53km maybe looked a tad optimistic, but more than 40km was easily within reach without too much effort, while a realistic fuel economy hovering in the 40s to the gallon (7.1 litres/100km) is perfectly respectable for a big, powerful SUV like this that was being driven, 'enthusiastically' at times. Driven completely out of kilter for a plug-in hybrid, the P400e dropped to 30mpg (9.4 litres/100km), but it needed some severe provocation to get to that extent of thirstiness.
What you get for your Money:
The F-Pace P400e isn't a huge price walk from a basic F-Pace, its list price starting from less than €10,000 above the entry point to the Jaguar's range. From there, the P400e comes in S, SE and HSE trims, as well as sportier-looking R-Dynamic variants in the same spec hierarchy. Our particular test car was a mid-spec SE variant from €71,380. This comes with a lengthy kit list that includes, but is not limited to, premium LED headlights with the signature DRLs, ten-colour configurable ambient interior lighting, the Pivi Pro infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, grained leather upholstery with a diamond perforation and embossed 'Leaper' emblem, 16-way electric driver and passenger memory front seats, an electrically adjustable steering column, keyless entry, Auto High Beam Assist, a powered tailgate, 20-inch alloy wheels, heated and power-folding door mirrors with puddle lights and an auto-dimming driver's side unit, the Interactive Driver Display instrument cluster, front and rear parking sensors, a 3D Surround Camera, Lane Keep Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, the Blind Spot Assist Pack and more. That's pretty comprehensive standard fare for a premium SUV like this, so it represents good value for money.
A highly polished package in several departments, the Jaguar F-Pace P400e is going to win many a heart with its distinguished manners, elegant appearance and sublime interior. It's not the sportiest of SUVs in the world, despite its on-paper power and performance stats, but it is strong enough in a straight line that you'll not lament the fact it is 'only' a four-cylinder Jaguar. Overall, this is one of the better plug-in hybrid SUVs that's available out there right now.