Jaguar creates 1st-ever SUV: the F-Pace

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The newest model and first-ever SUV from Jaguar has all the familiar elements, but new perks as well. (KABC)

The newest model and first-ever SUV from Jaguar has all the familiar elements, but new perks as well.

The "growler" grill badge (a roaring jaguar face) and the "leaper" rear badge (a jaguar in mid-jump) are the same. It has a Jaguar interior, and the exhaust makes a familiar Jaguar sound.

But this newest Jag has something else: a hatch on the rear leading to a large cargo area. This is Jaguar's first ever SUV, the F-Pace.

Some might find the idea odd, but this is the arena that premium auto brands play in these days.

If companies don't offer an SUV then they're missing out on sales that other brands are enjoying. More and more buyers want the cachet of a luxury car name, but with the usefulness and high-seating position of a sport utility.

And there's money to be made on SUVs. Porsche rolled the eyes of many when it came out with its Cayenne SUV in 2003.

But for all the grumbling that came about from Porsche purists, the sales numbers didn't lie and that first Porsche SUV made huge profits for the company. Industry watchers even say that without the Cayenne in its portfolio, Porsche may not have survived.

Now it's Jaguar's turn to offer a vehicle that captures the essence of its cars, but with a different shape.

There are options and trim levels galore, of course, and anyone used to how a Jaguar looks, feels and even smells inside will be right at home.

A powerful, supercharged V6 engine with up to 380 horsepower is right at home under the hood, and an efficient 4-cylinder diesel will be available soon.

Prices start at $42,390 for the 20d model and run all the way up to $56,700 for the high-end S model. There's also a special ultimate trim level available initially called First Edition, with a somewhat staggering sticker price of $69,700.

Because the F-Pace shares its chassis with Jaguar's sport sedans, and even the F-Type sports car, spirited driving on curving roads is a piece of cake.

If you prefer no road at all, keep in mind that Jaguar is part of the same company as Land Rover, so prowess on terrain with the standard all-wheel drive is assured as well.

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