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First drive: Jaguar F-Pace. Image by Jaguar.

First drive: Jaguar F-Pace
We've driven the whole range of new Jaguar F-Pace SUVs.

   



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Jaguar F-Pace

4 4 4 4 4

Jaguar's F-Pace, the company's first-ever SUV, looks the part, takes the Porsche Macan as its dynamic benchmark and is offered in a variety of flavours to suit a wide range of budgets and tastes. It's the first in what is expected to be a new family of vehicles set to considerably expand Jaguar's reach and it needs to be good from the outset. Job done then.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport AWD Auto
Pricing: F-Pace from 34,170 on-the-road; 40,360 as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 139g/km (VED Band E, 130 annually)
Combined economy: 53.3mpg
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Power: 180hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 430Nm at 1,750- to 2,500rpm
Luggage capacity: 650 litres

What's this?

Jaguar's first-ever SUV, the F-Pace. Though Jaguar doesn't include the Range Rover Evoque or Land Rover Discovery Sport cousins in its list of potential rivals, they are, along with the Audi Q5, BMW X3/X4, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Porsche's Macan. That last car was instrumental in how Jaguar's engineers developed the F-Pace, with the intention being to surpass its critically acclaimed dynamic prowess. Hence the F-Pace purports to be Jaguar's 'most practical sports car ever'. It certainly looks the part and in terms of practicalities either equals or surpasses all of the listed cars thanks to its bigger dimensions. Yet, because of extensive use of aluminium - and other lightweight materials - the F-Pace is one of the lighter cars in the segment.

There's a wide range of models from launch, though just three engines in the UK for now. The entry-level unit is Jaguar Land Rover's 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel, offered in 180hp guise from 34,170 on-the-road. It'll undoubtedly be the most popular engine and that's reflected in the wide choice available. Choose rear- or all-wheel drive, manual or automatic transmissions and from the three trim levels (Prestige, R-Sport and Portfolio). The 3.0-litre V6 diesel, using two turbochargers to produce 300hp and 700Nm of torque, can be had in S guise or a limited production First Edition with 22-inch wheels and other choice details thrown in. Topping the line-up in the UK is the 3.0-litre V6 petrol S model, with 380hp thanks to its supercharged engine. All these 3.0-litre engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic and four-wheel drive as standard.

The interior will be familiar to other Jaguar drivers, though you sit higher up of course. There's loads of space and it's well made, but quite plain to look at, depending on how it's specified. Configurable ambient lighting helps it come alive at night and the 10.2-inch touchscreen that comes with the new InControl Touch Pro system gives the cabin a suitably high-tech vibe. That's further enhanced if you opt for the virtual instrument cluster with four view modes and full-screen satnav, plus a super-sharp laser head-up display. The central touchscreen gives access to the new Configurable Dynamics menu, allowing drivers to adjust the steering assistance, throttle sensitivity, damping and transmission response according to preference, though there are also pre-set modes selectable via a button on the centre console, including one for off-road driving. As if any buyer of this car will ever need that...

How does it drive?

Overall, the F-Pace turns out to be more agile and interesting to drive than most of its competition, though there are a few ifs and buts. Our first experience of the F-Pace at the launch was at the wheel of a 3.0-litre V6 petrol car, in First Edition specification. It sounds good (if not as outrageous as the F-Type can) and though the F-Pace's weight dampens performance a tad, it's quick enough by any normal standards. However, this car disappointed us with its sloppy front-end and lack of communication through the steering. Later in the launch we were able to experience the same 380hp engine paired with 20-inch wheels - as opposed to the First Edition's lovely looking 22s - and it was a revelation, giving plenty of feedback and while not quite sports car like, certainly accomplished enough to live up to the F-Pace name and definitely a car you'd drive for the sake of driving.

But relatively speaking, only a few will consider petrol power for this SUV in Britain so the diesels need to be good too. The 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 diesel is, arguably, the star of the line-up. It feels a fraction nose-heavy in comparison to the 2.0-litre F-Pace, but makes up for that with a thumping mid-range that enables it to keep up with a quickly driven 380hp model without breaking a sweat. Its composure impresses and the body control is excellent, while variable ratio steering gives the best of both worlds in terms of straight-line stability and mid-corner agility. We found the quick-acting stability control system a little too intrusive for really spirited driving in the dry, though it has a middle setting that helps the car flow better when you're in a hurry on a particularly twisty piece of road. There's torque vectoring too, though it wasn't all that obvious in its operation and we'd have liked a little more interaction with the rear of the car for the F-Pace to live up to its 'practical sports car' billing. On the flip side, no matter which size wheel was fitted, the F-Pace managed to remain comfortable, even over some patchy and badly maintained roads in Montenegro.

The four-cylinder diesel engine is, unsurprisingly, the least interesting to drive. It's smooth enough and not too loud, but there's nothing sexy about a four-cylinder diesel thrum. Thankfully, 180hp seems to be more than adequate to push the F-Pace along, probably because there's a useful 430Nm of torque on tap too. We didn't get to try a rear-drive version, or one with a manual gearbox, and bear in mind that all test cars came with adaptive damping, which is only standard on the F-Pace S.

Verdict

The premium SUV sector is still burgeoning and there's plenty of room for new models such as the Jaguar F-Pace. It hits the market running with seductive looks, lots of practicality and a bit of reflected glory from the F-Type sports car. It doesn't drive as well as that, but it's good by SUV standards and yet it's also efficient. If the Jaguar F-Pace was a lemon, it'd still sell reasonably well. But the F-Pace is no lemon. In fact, it's a bit of a peach.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

5 5 5 5 5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 12 Apr 2016



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2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.

2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.



2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 






 

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