Jag's PHEV blitz continues with 404hp four-pot hybrid F-Pace
By Sam Sheehan / Thursday, March 11, 2021 / Loading comments
With a thumping V8 in the SVR and a silky six-pot in the P400, the revamped F-Pace range certainly isn’t lacking in the engine department. But as beguiling as both of those variants are, neither caters particularly well to the burgeoning market for low emission motoring. For that, Jaguar has built the new P400e, a petrol-electric model that promises 404hp and 474lb ft of torque, along with a WLTP-certified 130mpg combined economy and 49g/km CO2. Unlike its stablemates, the P400e faces no direct rival from in the Porsche Macan lineup, meaning its closest rivals include plug-in options like the Audi Q5 55 TFSI e. Worthy, perhaps. But not thrilling like the F-Pace has proven itself recently.
First things first, the new interior. Revealed in autumn last year and subsequently launched in the F-Pace and XF in February, the architecture is already getting familiar – but it’s no less impressive to behold in the P400e. All the main ingredients are present and correct: there’s an 11.4-inch curved Pivi Pro touchscreen, tactile pull-and-push rotary dials for the climate control and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. As in its siblings, it’s all pleasing to the eye and satisfying to operate, adding to the plush aura of a leather-trimmed cabin. Even the headrests are pillow-like in comfort, having been pinched from the Range Rover. Lovely.
With the P400e’s electrical gubbins split between the engine bay and the rear axle (something that does rob the boot of its underfloor space), there’s no impediment on interior space. But unlike the SVR and P400 we recently tried, our test car made do without Jag’s bucket seats, featuring the standard, better cushioned chairs. Less racy they might be, but they remain supportive around the torso and position you so the wheel and pedals are in easy reach. There's an airy sense of calm and quality in the cabin, which is not undone when you press the start button.
That's because the P400e defaults to EV mode, where it offers 33 miles or so of range and will easily take you to motorway speeds (it maxes out at 87mph) without waking the engine. The 17.1kWh battery it uses takes 1 hour 40 minutes for a 0-80 per cent charge using a 7kW wall box, or 30 minutes with a rapid charger. The F-Pace’s hybrid system differs from the three-pot EPace P300e’s that we reviewed yesterday, with the bigger car’s electric motor driving through the eight-speed gearbox, sending the combined torque through the prop shaft to the rear axle, rather than running alone at the back. That means the F-Pace is the more authentic all-wheel drive car; a fact which is made tangible during driving.
At low speed and in hybrid mode, the powertrain’s juggling of electric and petrol power is virtually indetectable. You’re acutely aware of the instantaneous throttle response provided by the electric motor, followed by the familiar supply of growing power as the engine’s revs rise. But there’s no step change as one part of the powertrain picks up from the other, just a linear supply of performance. It’s brilliantly matched. Torque peaks at a combined 474lb ft from 1,500rpm to 4,400rpm, so the pace piles on easily. But unless you pin the throttle, there’s no major drama about any of it. The gearbox will stick with a gear and lean into the powertrain’s twist, slipping up and down through the ratios smoothly, no doubt thanks in part to the torque fill offer by the hybrid system.
Elsewhere, the dampers do a good job of mixing suppleness with lateral body control. Despite its two-tonne weight, the P400e rides very nicely indeed. The suspension feels well-tuned to the package, with neither Comfort nor Dynamic mode going off the deep end. The steering is well judged and the brakes feel surprisingly natural, given that the pedal mixes regenerative deceleration with conventional stopping power. All of which means the F-Pace can really flow, and still deliver some mid-corner, on-throttle tightening of the line, should you want it. If anything, this trait is helped by the instantaneous delivery of electric torque, although obviously the driveline never gets anything like as immersive as the one in the 550hp SVR.
Wind things back and you’re aboard a quiet, refined and borderline wafty Jag, which, thanks to that wide window of torque, feels more muscular than a four-pot ought to. The way the car can maintain motorway pace with such marginal inputs on the accelerator suggests the implied efficiency gains are real enough, although obviously that depends on the owner ensuring the battery is topped up. Jaguar has added a ‘save’ mode to the drive panel, which ensures the battery level doesn’t fall below the point you start with, while adding whatever can be collected from the car’s regen system. With regular braking and coasting, the number does creep up, albeit slowly. Plainly it would be more effective to plug the car in.
Of course, if you want to find the bulkhead regardless, the hybrid system will throw battery caution to the wind and give you the full beans. Which, as ever, is the point of the plug-in concept: silent running when you want it, outsized performance when you need it. In some ways it's the most rounded offering in the F-Pace line-up, although along with boot space it loses out on the charisma front to the six- and eight-cylinder variants. The shortfall is notable when you consider the decidedly punchy £56k starting price, but with no Porsche to rival it, the competition isn't exactly brimmed with engine bay X-factor either. Jaguar has done more than most to make its niche-filler seem broadly likeable.
SPECIFICATION | JAGUAR F-PACE P400E PHEV SE
Engine: 1,997cc, inline-four, turbocharged, plus electric motor
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 404@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 472@1,500-4,400rpm
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Top speed: 149mph
MPG: 130.2 (WLTP, combined)
CO2: 49g/km (WLTP)
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