There’s a running joke in the automotive industry that if you own a Jaguar or Land Rover, you shouldn’t wander too far from a dealer in case something goes wrong.
Unfortunately stereotypes are hard to shake, and in some cases are based on some level of truth.
This was evident when the British company’s new CEO, Thierry Bollore, admitted this week perceived and actual quality issues are costing Jaguar Land Rover at least 100,000 sales a year from dissatisfied or unconvinced customers.
This got me thinking about my Jaguar F-Pace, which I bought new when it first came out in September 2016.
At the time, it was probably the first or second delivery of an F-Pace in Brisbane and to date it hasn’t exactly become a common sight – although I see a lot more of them in Sydney.
Our car was ordered in Italian racing red with a red interior, 20-inch black wheels and the full black pack.
In fact, I actually had the former head of Jaguar design (who also designed my Aston Martin Vantage) and all-around legend, Ian Callum, spec the look of my car when I met him at the launch in Montenegro.
All the fluff aside, it’s been four and half years and about 50,000km since we took delivery of our Jaguar F-Pace and, despite it feeling a little old on the inside due to lack of technologies like Apple CarPlay, nothing serious has gone wrong with the car. Ever.
I know, it’s weird. I was half expecting it to have caught on fire by now and for me to become a meme. I even put my surname on it so if it’s ever on a tow-truck I can get some good photos to perpetuate the myth of British unreliability.
Nonetheless, despite my absolute best efforts of driving it as hard as a supercar (that’s powered by a 2.0-litre diesel), the only things that have gone wrong are the driver’s door cladding glue (which needed some reapplication), a small leak in one of the radiators, and a problem with the front wheel bearings.
Both the radiator and wheel bearings were replaced.
Jaguar replaced and fixed everything under warranty, even though the wheel bearings were actually a year outside the three-year manufacturer warranty period (now five years as part of an ongoing offer), but they were replaced as the car was serviced at Jaguar and they deemed it unusual wear given the life of the vehicle.
On the inside my kids (who were around five and two when we bought the F-Pace) have done their best to destroy the back seat with spilt milkshakes and hot chocolates, not to mention bits of McDonald’s happy meals and whatever else kids eat, smudged and smeared all through the leather.
After a basic detail, it always looks as good as new.
If I’m perfectly honest, the reliability and durability of the Jaguar is almost disappointing.
There’s no stories about my wife being stranded halfway between Brisbane and Warwick on the side of the road at night. No dead starter motor, black smoke coming out of the back, oil covering the garage, random engine lights, absolutely nothing.
I just wanted something to go wrong, at this rate I am concerned I might have bought a Lexus.
Everything you’ve heard about Jaguars of old is pretty much irrelevant.
Even the electronics work like the day it was delivered. The sunroof, the windows, the keyless entry, the automatic boot opener using your feet, all of it still works. The Meridian sound system is still a delight, too.
People always ask me as a joke how I could put my wife and kids in a car that spends half its life on the side of the road, and I won’t deny my response has at times been “we also have a German SUV for when I want to make sure they get home”.
The reality is though, it’s never left me feeling anxious about breaking down or being unreliable.
With all of that in mind, recently we came to the realisation we need a new family SUV. The thought of buying a BMW X5 or Audi Q7 is very sensible and logical. I probably should just do that, but I’ve always been attracted to niche cars that are not all that common.
My wife started her car buying journey looking at a Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupe, which I categorically vetoed in the strongest form a man can against his wife – I said ‘yes honey, let’s go drive it’.
Thankfully the world’s largest Mercedes-Benz dealership (literally), which just happens to be in Brisbane not only had no car for us to drive, but couldn’t care all that much either.
That solved the problem of buying a Mercedes I’m not a particular fan of. I like the standard GLE, but the Coupe looks like it belongs in a Santa Monica car park.
The next choice was the Bentley Bentayga. It’s an epic-looking SUV that’s super spacious and has an incredibly well-appointed interior… but is too big for where we intend to park it.
Plus, spending $500,000 on an SUV seems like a waste of money – although my wife would disagree.
Then came the Genesis GV80, which I rate and would love to own… except for the steering wheel, which is really peculiar in shape and annoying to hold.
Even if i could get past that (and I probably could) the bigger issue is the fact the brand would not discount $1 from its price, making the car more expensive than a Porsche Cayenne. Insert error noise here.
I tried to convince my wife we should wait for either the updated Tesla Model X (we bought one a few years ago, paid and lost the deposit as we never took delivery because the interior fit and finish was shocking), or the next-generation Range Rover Sport coming out ‘soon’.
Unfortunately, she used this very website to confirm my idea of soon and her idea of soon are about 12 months apart.
Before she had the option to run back and find someone willing to help at the local Mercedes dealership, I suggested we look at the 2021 Range Rover Velar with updated infotainment, gearstick, and a few other things.
She asked if Range Rovers are “really unreliable”, pretty much cementing the perception issue of the brand.
I asked if she felt the Jaguar was unreliable, and she said she had never even thought about it given it never broke down (which is what you want to hear).
After some argy-bargy, negotiations, and promises I would stop buying other ‘useless’ cars we don’t need, she agreed the new Velar would be a good choice before the new Range Rover Sport comes out. We can then swap into that.
So here we are, waiting for the Velar to show up. We’re hoping to take delivery in the coming months.
So after nearly five years of owning a Jaguar F-Pace and owning a now-previous-generation Land Rover Discovery Sport (that one was definitely a Friday car), I’m either stupid for going back and tempting fate, or Jaguar Land Rover can finally make reliable cars and the brand is just waiting for the perception issue to ease.
Either way, the stereotype around reliability of British and European cars in general is simply no longer (as) valid. Now I’m not saying a Jaguar is as reliable as a Toyota, what I am saying though is that reliability this day and age shouldn’t be about the number of faults but the overall ownership experience.
With five-year warranty periods and strong Australian Consumer Laws, don’t let old ideas and stereotypes stop you from buying the car you actually love.
Or, you know, just go buy a Lexus… but bring your pacemaker with you.