Jaguar F-Pace 2015With the launch of the F-Pace SUV, Jaguar has “finally ditched its slippers and pipe image,” says the firm’s brand director Steven de Ploey.

While the firm is proud of its heritage, and will continue to draw upon it, the brand’s future is in attracting more younger, female and connected customers – and the F-Pace is a key part of that strategy.

9 in 10 buyers of Jaguar’s first-ever crossover SUV are going to be new to the brand, said de Ploey, and it’s going to draw customers from buyers of rivals including the Porsche Macan, Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

“The F-Pace is THE champion for the Jaguar brand with conquest customers,” he said: it is this car that the firm hopes will reinvigorate the Jaguar brand with people who previously have not even considered it.

A lot is riding on it: the medium SUV sector will grow from 850,000 sales in 2014/15 to over 1.2 million by 2020/21 – that’s 40% growth.

“This will take Jaguar’s accessible market from three million potential customers to four million” – a huge increase that shows that, of all the new cars Jaguar is launching at the moment, the F-Pace is the most important.

Watch it, Porsche Macan

Jaguar makes no secret of its desire to challenge the Porsche Macan. Jaguar engineers believe the Porsche is easily the best vehicle in the sector to drive, and admire its engineering – but believe they have a car its equal in the F-Pace.

Key engineering details have been compared with the Porsche: the F-Pace S is as fast as a Macan S to 60mph; front lateral suspension stiffness is 50% better than the Porsche; it’s also 35% more compliant over bumps than the Porsche.

Practicality of the five-seater F-Pace hasn’t been overlooked. With boot space the equal of a BMW X5 and 220 litres better than Bentley’s new Bentayga SUV, Jaguar reckons the F-Pace has all the fundamentals in place to succeed.

“It is a no compromise performance crossover,” said de Ploey, “or, as we prefer, the ultimate crossover sportscar.

“The F-Pace is a game-changing car for Jaguar: it will forever change the perception of the brand.”