By George Polgar

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For a car company with a legendary racing and royal coach making pedigree – that has over its 72 years survived a few harrowing slick spots – the introduction this year of the new F-PACE compact luxury SUV signals a new era for the vaunted Jaguar brand.

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The F-PACE concept is confident, fully evolved and exquisitely executed arriving virtually last to the SUV party but besting top tier luxury competitors in the category.

The work product of the engineers and designers of Jaguar, now a scion of Indian industrial giant the Tata Group, lives up to the best heritage of the feisty feline.

The F-PACE is a stunner at first sight, spectacularly comfortable in its SUV skin, rippling with muscles from the clenched abs of its sculpted hood sweeping back to a tapering aerodynamic rear profile.

In the F-PACE S First Edition – a 275 unit limited production specialty sport version rolling at $70,000 – the emphasis is on impact from a cornea scorching (Cesium Blue) metallic finish paint job, to the swaggering 22” inch dark finish alloy wheels with the bright red brake calipers, peeking out suggestively.

Inside the spacious cabin is sheathed and stitched in two-tone grey black and colored leather seating, dash and door panels accented in brushed aluminum.

Behind the wheel my eyes comfortably scan the understated gauge cluster, the oddly familiar center console automatic transmission dial selector and infotainment center.

A tap of the throttle fires up the 380 horsepower supercharged V8 with a nervous jump, and then a full tromp of the pedal launches the big cat to iconic lunging form.

On the wooded back roads of the old Main Line, the F-PACE is a stirring performer, with its sophisticated computer controlled driving dynamics taking the edge off of tight turns and fast rising sweeping curves

On a restless 5 AM romp tracking the twisting wide open stretches of the Schuylkill River Drive loop, the F-PACE proved so inspiring, I decided to take another lap before the rising of the steel grey dawn.

Smiling at the effortless alacrity of this fancy rig … I started thinking “This is why they’ll be prying my cold dead hands from the steering wheel before I go quietly into the self-driving car future.”

The F-PACE SUV really makes Jaguar an even bigger player in the very competitive luxury field. Jaguar certainly has the heritage, and now with this amazing new F-PACE SUV, the brand is at the top of its game in today’s dominant vehicle segment.”

Jaguar F-PACE Specifications

F-PACE 35t

MSRP: $43,390

MPG: 18 city / 23 highway

Horsepower: 340 hp @ 6,500 rpm

Towing capacity: 5,290 lbs

Engine: 3.0 L V6

Curb weight: 4,015 lbs

Dimensions: 186″ L x 82″ W x 65″ H

F-PACE 2.0 Diesel

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Model: 2017 Jaguar F-PACE

MSRP: $41,990

Horsepower: 180 hp @ 4,000 rpm

Towing capacity: 5,290 lbs

Engine: 2.0 L 4-cylinder diesel

Curb weight: 3,913 lbs

Dimensions: 186″ L x 82″ W x 65″ H

F-PACE S

MSRP: From $57,700

Horsepower: 380 hp

Engine: 3.0 L V6

MPG: 18 city / 23 highway

Curb weight: 4,102 lbs

Towing capacity: 5,290 lbs

Dimensions: 186″ L x 82″ W x 65″ H

F-PACE S First Edition

MPG: 18 city / 23 highway

MSRP: From $70,700

Horsepower: 380 hp

Engine: 3.0 L V6

Curb weight: 4,102 lbs

Towing capacity: 5,290 lbs

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Dimensions: 186″ L x 82″ W x 65″ H