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Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum introduces the F-Pace in Frankfurt. (Dan Carney)

Jaguar enters performance crossover SUV segment

In a bid to combat flagging market share due to declining consumer interest in its signature coupes, roadsters, and sedans, Jaguar is making its first move into the booming market for crossover SUVs. The 2016 F-Pace, shown at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, is an aluminum-intensive "performance crossover," Jaguar's term for an all-weather, on-road-focused wagon with real handling on pavement and no pretensions that it is meant to conquer the Rubicon Trail.

Philosophically, this is similar to Porsche's wildly popular Macan, a vehicle Jaguar used as a benchmark for the F-Pace. Jaguar calls its foundation the Lightweight Aluminum Architecture, which it shares with the XE and XF sedans. "We recognize that the dynamic benchmark in the segment is the Porsche Macan," acknowledged Vehicle Program Director Andy Whyman.

The company shies from the term "platform" with its implicit parts sharing because the F-Pace is 81% unique from its sedan siblings. The result is a vehicle that is 80% aluminum by weight, which is more than any other crossover SUV, said Kevin Stride, Jaguar XE Vehicle Line Director. Areas that are normally high-strength steel for its strength in crashes are high-strength aluminum in the F-Pace, including the B-pillar and the door-surround stamping. Shock towers are high-pressure die-cast aluminum.

Jaguar boasts that one-third of the aluminum used in the F-Pace is recycled, and the goal is to raise this portion to 75% by 2020. This currently amounts to 30,000 ton (27,200 t) of reused aluminum annually. It should be understood that this refers to the company's reuse of its own scrap aluminum from its stamping facility, and not to the notion that discarded beer cans have found a higher purpose.

That's because most of the aluminum used in the F-Pace is a very specific RC5754 grade developed with Novelis for its strength properties. "We are working on using post-consumer material," Whyman said. Floorpan stampings are the most likely application for such recycled metals, he said. "Beer cans are similar to floorpan material," he explained. The structural aluminum is all high-strength.

Other innovative materials include the use of magnesium for a front frame crossmember as well as the common dashboard crossmember. And the vehicle's rear hatch is composite. The resulting body-in-white weighs 298 kg (657 lb), a mass comparable to that of the much smaller Fiat 500L's.

With 100,000 h of computer simulation time and 15,000 h of engineering work in the F-Pace's structure, Jaguar has been able to optimize its design to produce a vehicle that is 50% stiffer than the Macan in lateral stiffness at the front end and 35% stiffer across the rear, according to Whyman.

This stiffness, along with Jaguar's own software for the Bosch Automotive Steering-sourced variable-ratio electric power steering system contributes to the F-Pace's crisp steering response, he said.

Front suspension is double-wishbone and the rear is what Jaguar terms an "integral link" double-wishbone design whose castor properties contribute to stability during hard braking, said Whyman. It also provides increased longitudinal compliance to cushion the blow from sharp-edged impacts such as potholes. Dampers are Bilstein units. Another aluminum application is for the front steering knuckles, which are forged from cast aluminum blanks for maximum stiffness.

At launch the F-Pace will offer five engines, three of which will come to the U.S. market; a 180-PS (132-kW) 2.0-L turbodiesel four-cylinder, a 340-PS (250-kW) 3.0-L supercharged gasoline V6, and a 380-PS (270-kW) version of the same engine.

The Ingenium diesel engine employs variable exhaust cam timing to quickly heat the exhaust aftertreatment system on cold starts. The engine itself also warms quickly thanks to a split cooling system, variable water pump, and a mapped thermostat. The 1800-bar (26.1-ksi) common-rail injection system and variable-ratio turbocharger are complemented by a cooled low-pressure EGR system to produce minimal NOx.

The gasoline V6 engines are the same as seen in the F-Type sports car, but tuned for more tractable low-rpm response. World markets also get a 300-PS (220-kW) 3.0-L twin-turbocharged diesel V6 and a turbocharged 2.0-L gasoline four-cylinder engine of unspecified output. Company sources indicate that the gasoline four-cylinder will come to the U.S. later.

All engines are matched to ZF eight-speed automatic transmissions, though a six-speed manual transmission is available with the diesel four-cylinder in some markets. Rear-wheel drive is standard for the diesel, with optional all-wheel drive and the gasoline V6 models are all-wheel drive only.

The F-Pace's BorgWarner all-wheel-drive system is an evolution of that seen on other Jaguar models, one that sees the weight trimmed by 16% and internal losses reduced by 10%. All-wheel-drive models weigh only 8 kg (18 lb) more than rear-drive ones.

Power reaches the road through wheels that are available in sizes between 18 and 22 in. The SuperAlloy Industrial Co. Ltd. 22-inch wheels wear tires with higher sidewalls than those on competitors' vehicles, helping shield them from increasingly common impact damage.

New technology abounds inside the F-Pace, where there is a 10.2-in touchscreen infotainment display and a 12.3-in instrument panel that are powered by an Intel quad-core processor with a 60-GB solid-state hard drive. This promises quick, responsive pinching, swiping and scrolling, but Jaguar has retained a familiar rotary knob for volume control for the 17-speaker, 825-W sound system, unlike the interface in Cadillac and Honda models that rely exclusively on touch surface inputs and steering wheel controls.

All of the system's components are connected via gigabit Ethernet networking, making the F-Pace one of the very first vehicles to employ this technology. This seems appropriate because the F-Pace has a built-in cellular Wifi capability using a roof-mounted antenna for 30% better reception than that of a handheld cell phone, the company said. It supports as many as eight connected wireless devices at a time.

This cellular connection also lets owners connect to their car remotely using Apple iOS or Google Android smart devices to check whether the doors are locked, whether any windows are open, where the F-Pace was last parked, and the levels of fuel and windshield washer fluid. They can use the app to lock or unlock the F-Pace, start the engine, receive alerts if the alarm is triggered, and reset it remotely.

An innovative new system called Active Key is a Flextronics-supplied rubber wristband RFID system that the driver wears like a Fitbit activity monitor. With it, the driver can lock keys and valuables in the car and unlock it by pressing the Active Key to the letter "J" in the F-Pace's rear Jaguar badge. A Delphi onboard system communicates with the passive Active Key, so there is no battery in the wristband to discharge.

Four-cylinder diesel F-Paces reach U.S. dealers this fall, with gasoline six-cylinders arriving in 2016.

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