Jaguar F-PACE P400e underlines the need for e-car policy revamp

The Jaguar F-PACE P400e  (David Williams)
The Jaguar F-PACE P400e (David Williams)

If an extended road test in Jaguar’s swish, visually striking F-PACE has revealed one overriding fact, it’s the timeliness of the Evening Standard’s Plug It In campaign, which sets out the road to an e-car future.

The F-PACE is one - largely - impressive package. It is a plug-in hybrid, so propelled by the combination of a potent 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a powerful electric motor.

Unlike a self-charging hybrid - think Toyota Prius - the clue to the difference with plug-in hybrids is in the name; to harness the benefits they must be charged up by cable, as self-charging is only minimal.

After a plug-in session, the F-PACE is claimed to be fit for 31 miles of fume-free, silent electric-only progress, helping relieve emissions in London, while giving the owner a glow of environmental satisfaction.

Alternatively, the fine-driving F-PACE can be run in Hybrid mode, making its own, electronically-governed choices, switching between the two power sources as it sees fit, lowering petrol consumption and, hence, petrol costs and emissions.

Or the driver can select ‘SAVE’, choosing to run purely on petrol (maybe for a dash out of town) while conserving those precious volts for use once back in town.


Running on petrol alone is certainly no hardship, particularly for those who enjoy a sporty drive. The smooth, turbocharged two-litre engine - mated to an equally smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox - is a firebreather, entirely in tune with the F-PACE’s dynamic, go-getting looks, its fine handling, beautiful ride and crisp, linear steering, all of which make it a very fun and refined drive indeed.

Jaguar F-PACE P400e R-Dynamic (David Williams)
Jaguar F-PACE P400e R-Dynamic (David Williams)

The petrol engine produces 398bhp, enough for 0-60 mph in just five seconds and a potential top speed of 149 mph. Clearly it’s no slouch. Even in electric-only mode it is fast, assured, still fun.

Equipment levels are generous, too. The P400e AWD R-Dynamic Black version is laden with treats fitted as standard, including heated, electric, power-fold mirrors with auto-dimming on the driver’s side, automatic headlights, green tinted glass, rain-sensing wipers, auto high beam assist and so on.

It also comes with ‘configurable dynamics’ which means different driving modes can be chosen, including Dynamic, which firms up the suspension, steering and gear changes for a sportier drive. It also has Hill Launch Assist, speed proportional steering and Eco driving style assistant, to help you keep those emissions down.

Wireless Apple CarPlay is superb, allowing me to connect my iPhone 13 Pro, and use Waze, Spotify, messaging and any other number of apps, seamlessly. There’s also a great, slightly curved 11.4-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear camera and front and rear parking aids and great-sounding speakers.


Safety-wise, the F-PACE has Adaptive Cruise Control (great for ensuring you don’t inadvertently break the speed limit on motorways, for instance) a Driver Condition Monitor to ensure you remain alert, Lane Keep Assist to keep you between the white lines and - usefully with the proliferation of 20 mph zones in the oddest places - Traffic Sign Recognition. It’s not short of ‘toys’.

Inside the boot of the F-PACE P400e (David Williams)
Inside the boot of the F-PACE P400e (David Williams)

But this diamond is not without flaws. The load area is heavily compromised by the battery. The height of the main section is only about 38cm, so when holdalls are slotted in (tricky with the two bulky tie-down cable packs in the way), there’s little room above them, below the load space cover, for coats etc, as would normally be the case. The rearmost 26 cms of boot floor are steeply raked, making storage there problematic; if you place objects here, they can fall out. The only under-boot storage is minimal, reserved for tyre-repair essentials.

Being a typical Londoner I use a nearby ‘charging’ lamp post, installed by Lambeth, at 45p per kWh, plus 35p plug-in charge. With VAT that’s around £7.47 per charge and after the car’s sat at the kerb a while, its range depletes slightly before I’ve gone anywhere.

A short round trip to my local Sainsbury’s cost 82p in electric mode. If I’d used petrol at £1.48 a gallon it would have cost 74p. If I had a home charger, I’d pay around 32 pence per kWh according to PodPoint, making the electric option rather more economical. Unfortunately, in London - where the emissions problem actually is - almost no one, including me, has a drive, let alone a home-charger. Like most Londoners, I have no ‘right’ even to park outside my own house, so can’t plan on running a cable across the pavement. In any case, that’s frowned upon and - as the Standard has reported - could land you in trouble with your local authority. I’m enjoying doing my bit for the environment but at a high cost, it seems.


Since I did those sums, I’ve spotted considerably cheaper petrol, making the equation even more clear-cut.

Which brings us back to the Standard’s Plug It In Campaign. If - as suggested by our campaign - VAT was removed from public charging, it would help even things up, encouraging more people to go electric. We need more chargers too; drivers regularly report having to await their turn to plug in. And then of course you must dash back again when it’s finished, to avoid a fine.

Jaguar F-PACE P400e R-Dynamic (David Williams)
Jaguar F-PACE P400e R-Dynamic (David Williams)

And all the time, you’re ‘double fuelling’ - queuing up at petrol stations AND charging points. And having to unfurl the cable, faff about with an app and remember to move the car from the charging bay the following morning by which time my favoured parking slot has usually been taken, after I have patiently coiled up the (often soaking wet) cable and crammed it into one of the two the nylon cable bags (which consume further boot space).

No doubt there is a market for this F-PACE but I’m not in it. Business motorists, for instance, would benefit from the lower company car tax for plug-in hybrids and the fortunate few with home chargers would enjoy greater financial benefits. Those lusting for a superb, sporty drive would enjoy it - but they’d better not be making use of all five seats, as there won’t be room for their passengers’ luggage.

If you’re tempted by the stunning lines of the F-Pace and its sheer driving pleasure, as I am, you need to do your sums carefully. You can read more about our Plug It In campaign at here.

The Facts

Jaguar ‘F-PACE P400e R-Dynamic

Cost: from £60,985

Electric-only range: 31 miles (claimed)

MPG (claimed)121.4 MPG

Top speed: 149 mph

0 - 60 mph 5 seconds

Emissions: 52 g/km