Driving down any road in any part of Europe, inner city or motorway, and there is an increasing number of SUVs. The market for the vehicle type has exploded and accounts for nearly 25% of European sales, which is why so many OEMs have developed the vehicles. From Bentley to BMW, SEAT and Skoda they form a large part of everyone’s line-up.
Which is why it’s perhaps surprising that Jaguar has only recently brought the F-Pace into series production.
The vehicle has been in development for three years and has been benchmarked against the Porsche Macan, BMW X3 and X4 as well as the Audi Q5.
As with so many programmes efficiency, emissions and performance are cornerstones, but so too was ride and handling. Consumers might like the high driving position that SUVs offer but they still want a similar driving feel to a more traditional vehicle. Which is why engineers used the basic chassis setup of other vehicles in the marque’s line-up.
“We have an F-Type-derived double wishbone configuration at the front, and an integral link rear suspension system. The advantages of this are that it delivers the ideal lateral and longitudinal stiffness values needed for precise handling and supple ride,” says Andy Whyman, the F-Pace’s programme director.
The F-Pace is 1,652mm tall, 4,731mm long and 1,936mm wide and weighs from 1,665kg for the front-wheel drive variant, which makes it a sizeable vehicle, but even driving it on the narrow, twisted lanes of the Oxfordshire countryside in the UK, areas such as body roll were minimal, even with a more enthusiastic approach to the route.
Weight does increase when all-wheel drive is added, but to minimise unnecessary additions engineers have applied a multi-material approach to the F-Pace.
“We used steel for the rear floor and the doors to help us to achieve ideal weight distribution. The front fenders and the bonnet are aluminium, the front-end carrier is lightweight cast magnesium and the tailgate is made from composites and weighs just 13.8kg,” says Whyman.
Aluminium has also contributed hugely to the vehicle’s makeup, and the challenges using the material meant that the team had to fall back on knowledge acquired through past vehicle programmes as Whyman explains. “Traditionally aluminium can pose challenges in terms of forming complex panels and joining technologies but building on our learning with F-Type, XE and XF, it means we were able to incorporate the highest percentage of aluminium, 81%, in our architecture.”
Minimising weight has meant that in the 2-litre 132kW/430NM diesel variant, that uses the ZF-supplied six-speed manual transmission carbon emissions, according to the official NEDC test cycle, are 129g/km, equating to 4.9 litres/100km. That number increases to 209g/km and 8.9 litres/100km in the all-wheel drive 280kW/450Nm 3-litre supercharged V6 gasoline engine version linked to ZF’s eight-speed automatic.
But it wasn’t just lightweighting that helped achieve this figure, a more detailed approach to aerodynamics played a key role too.
“Our target was to match saloon cars in aero performance so we used computational fluid dynamics extensively to achieve this. In total over 100,000 machine hours of aero simulation have gone into the F-Pace – 11 years’ worth. Key features include a flat underfloor leading from the front splitter and a working rear spoiler which contributes to an optimal 50% lift balance between the front and rear. This results in a drag coefficient of 0.34. These smooth aerodynamics support on road stability, it reduces wind noise and of course aids efficiency,” says Whyman.