A FIRST drive in a Jaguar is always a special occasion but when I got behind the wheel of the latest F-Pace recently I was completely blown away.
Here is an imposing large SUV that handles like a sportscar through the bends and yet still delivers the most comfortable of rides over the worst of country roads.
The Special Edition 300 Sport comes with a choice of 300bhp engines and all wheel drive. The petrol model uses Jaguar's 2.0-litre Ingenium turbo and the diesel has the excellent 3.0-litre V6.
Both deliver huge low speed torque, helping towards a 62 miles an hour sprint of 6.1 seconds for the Ingenium, and 6.4 for the 3.0-litre, with top speeds of 145 and 150mph respectively.
Jaguar says the 300 Sport and the Chequered Flag special edition, launched at the same time, not only combine sports car DNA with the practicality of a larger vehicle, like the rest of the F-Pace range, but also build on the model's visual appeal by enhancing its sporting character.
Finished in either Yulong White, Indus Silver or Santorini Black, the 300 Sport is distinguished by huge gloss and matt 22-inch dark grey alloy wheels, with matching exterior matt grey detail in the grill surround, side window surrounds and other points.
Inside, yellow stitching on the dark grey instrument panel, centre console and electrically adjusted and heated leather seats helps to give a unique feel, which is further enhanced by a 300 Sport badge on the door treadplates, carpet mats and steering wheel.
Jaguar's very good Touch Pro Navigation, with Connect Pro to help the driver operate essential features remotely, is controlled by a 12.3-inch touch screen that provides an easy to use, customisable interface.
The quality Meridian sound system is good enough for Wembley stadium, and there is also a panoramic glass roof with a blind.
Every F-Pace is built using lightweight aluminium of course, helping towards driving dynamics that deliver the ideal balance between ride and handling.
And the standard All-Surface Progress Control enables smooth, effortless traction on low-grip surfaces, while all-wheel drive and Intelligent Driveline Dynamics deliver optimum performance and capability.
On my drive around the Warwickshire countryside, I was astounded by the beautiful F-Pace's range of ability.
Despite its bulk, the driving dynamics and incredible agility are so good as to make it feel much smaller.
The ride quality is truly fantastic, with no foibles whatsoever, and surprisingly, little of the usual bump-thump from the huge wheels and ultra low profile tyres.
Beautifully supportive and well-shaped seats help towards the comfort, while at the same time giving maximum support through the corners.
Those corners can be taken very quickly in great safety, with loads of feel from the excellent steering, showing that when a driver occasionally takes a bend too fast, the car will probably save him!
The smooth and amazingly quiet V6 drives all four wheels through an eight speed automatic gearbox, and performance is sublime.
It's inaudible until pushed up the rev range, when there's just enough lovely turbine sound to prickle the senses.
It revs to 4,800, but there is no point pushing it that high when there is so much low speed torque to get real acceleration going lower down.
As well as being a marvellous car to drive, the F-Pace 300 Sport gives customers excellent value into the bargain, with the diesel getting Â£4,555 of added value over the F-Pace ‘S' for an extra cost of just Â£500. It costs Â£53,980.