25.1.2018Jaguar F-Pace review
Jaguar is on a roll at the moment, producing a number of very good models that allow the company to compete in respective classes. However, to truly compete against its core German rivals, Jaguar has realised that it must move beyond its saloon and sportscar core, and into SUVs too. It has sister brand Range Rover for the proper off-roading or luxury stuff, but the SUV market is booming, so Jaguar has worked hard to get in on the action. There's a new E-Pace and the all-electric I-Pace is on its way too, but here we drive the F-Pace - Jaguar's first foray into the executive SUV market.
Review by Chris Lilly
It wouldn't be a proper Jaguar if the F-Pace focused on anything less than an engaging drive; so that's what we've got here. Under the bonnet of the test model sits Jaguar's 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo-charged Ingenium diesel unit, producing 180hp. There's a lower powered version of the same engine, plus a twin-turbocharged more powerful unit too, topped by a 3.0 litre V6 diesel option. The petrols mirror the diesel line-up, though are more powerful across the board and are offered in two states of tune for the 2.0 litre engine, rather than the diesel's three. The model tested was nicely balanced though, offering plenty of performance while still returning decent economy figures. The 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in 8.7 seconds, with 129mph possible when flat out. The engine's natural torque means in-gear acceleration makes the F-Pace feel faster than its reasonable acceleration time would suggest, and there were no situations where I was needing more shove. Any more is a luxury, and the 180hp diesel's 430 Nm of torque keeps the F-Pace moving nicely. At lower speeds, you can let the 8-speed automatic just get on with things - though it can get a little sloppy in its reaction times when crawling. The majority of the time though, it changes smoothly and without fuss. The engine also settles down quickly from start-up to become a refined unit, complementing the gearbox nicely.
The F-Pace has its sights firmly set on the sporty end of the SUV market, which gives it some seriously tough competition. The Porsche Macan is an established leader around here, and the F-Pace even has competition from its own side in the shape of the Range Rover Velar. The F-Pace holds its own well though, and provides an excellent balance between a dynamic set-up and comfort - attributes that Jaguar built its reputation on. It handles like a Jag, even though it's much taller than the more traditional saloons, and when fitted with the optional air suspension, it proves extremely flexible. Set into sport mode, the F-Pace will put a smile on your face down any twisty road, with sharp turn-in, plenty of feedback, and accurate steering allowing drivers to sweep the Jaguar through a series of bends. It's helped by Torque Vectoring, which brakes the inside wheels to keep the car on a tight line while cornering. On the more regular occasions when a more comfortable ride is preferred though, a press of a button and the F-Pace becomes far more supple. It's not got the waft-along capability of a big Mercedes for example, but considering its dynamic focus, the F-Pace will ride very nicely indeed.
Jaguar's designers have done a good job with the F-Pace, since despite being fundamentally a large car, it doesn't look bulky on the road. It's one of the most stylish efforts in the SUV market around, and the good news is that the design hasn't impacted too much upon practicality. The large rear pillars hinder visibility somewhat, but the interior space remains very usable - particularly the load area which is huge. Four adults will be able to travel in comfort with no problem at all - though families will have to bear in mind the relatively small rear openings when looking at putting children in the back. Those up front have no compromises at all, with space abundant for the driver and passenger. To complement the large boot, there are a number of cubby holes in the cabin too, and the door bins and glove box are very usable - which is more than can be said of some rivals' offerings. Head, leg, and shoulder space is good all round, apart from those seated in the centre of the rear bench, who will find a transmission tunnel where they wish to place their feet. Other than that, there is space aplenty throughout the cabin.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The F-Pace boasts one of the best interiors in its class. It doesn't have the clean Teutonic lines of an Audi Q5, but it's an improvement on the button-fest found in the Macan. The lay-out is easy and intuitive to use, while the key driving controls are located on the transmission tunnel. The central infotainment screen allows users to prod the digital buttons with mistakes (as a result of lumps and bumps in the road) kept to a minimum, and the display is clear and of a high resolution. The steering wheel is a bit button-tastic, but it is a good size and shape to fit the car's attributes. It's not too big which helps with enthusiastic steering situations, but it's large enough to keep the driver comfortable on long motorway runs. The seats follow a theme, being supportive, but comfortable enough to cope with long distances too. Again, softer alternatives are available, but the F-Pace is plenty comfortable enough for day-to-day life.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The F-Pace tested is one of the most efficient in the line-up, with an official fuel economy figure of 53.3 MPG and CO2 emissions of 139 g/km. The best in the range offers 58.9 MPG and 139 g/km CO2, available from the lowest power diesel model with rear-wheel drive. Over the course of more than 550 miles in the Jaguar, the trip computer was showing an average of 42.7 MPG, which isn't at all bad for a variety of driving runs. With some vigorous driving in that mileage to test the F-Pace's dynamic attributes, it's safe to say that 43 MPG is very easily attainable, and I would expect an average of around 45-47 MPG for every day driving. That's certainly what the reset trip computers were reporting on more typical journeys. In terms of car tax, the F-Pace 2.0D 180PS AWD will cost from Â£160 for the first year (included in the car's OTR price) and Â£140 thereafter. The model tested would cost Â£200 for the first year, and Â£450 for years 2-6 as, with extras, it came in over the Â£40,000 Premium Rate threshold.
The F-Pace has a few features to help it achieve respectable fuel economy and emissions figures. The Ingenium engines - both petrol and diesel - have been designed to be efficient and refined, with an all-aluminium construction for low weight. Stop/start technology, low friction components, and regenerative charging all help with the F-Pace's efficiency statistics. Linked to the engine is Jaguar's eight-speed automatic transmission - a six-speed manual is available too - which changes quickly, and can be configured to change early. Jaguar makes good use of lightweight materials in the chassis too. The car is built on an aluminium platform to create one of the lightest cars in its class. Finally, the F-Pace features JaguarDrive Control which can make the car sportier or, in this case, more economical. In Eco mode, the gearbox shifts up earlier, the throttle response is slackened, and auxiliary systems optimised for efficient driving. There is also a driver score coaching system that lets those behind the wheel know how economically they are accelerating, cruising, and braking. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 48.
You would expect a premium SUV to come well equipped, and the Jaguar F-Pace doesn't disappoint. Standard specification on the R-Sport model tested includes 19-inch alloy wheels, an R-Sport body kit for sharper styling, cruise control, all-wheel drive, JaguarDrive Control, Torque Vectoring, keyless entry and start, automatic wipers and lights, leather trim with heated sports front seats, InControl touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, DAB, WiFi, and Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking assist, and All-Surface Progress Control. Fitted to the test car were 20-inch alloys, panoramic roof, Navigation Pro with Meridian sound system, Head-Up Display, Adaptive Dynamics Pack, Practicality Pack, and 10-inch Dual View touchscreen infotainment system. This last feature allows the front passenger and driver to view different displays on the same screen at the same time - for example, the passenger can watch a DVD with audio via the wireless headphones, while the driver has the sat-nav view.
The F-Pace is a triumphant entry into the SUV market for Jaguar; a well-balanced all-rounder. It's practical, fun to drive, and stylish, proving every inch a contender in the SUV market. There are sportier or more comfortable rivals around, but few others offer such a blend of both attributes - it's a true Jaguar.
Model tested: Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport 2.0D AWD Auto
Body-style: Premium SUV
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre turbo diesel / 139 g/km
Trim grades: Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport, S
On-road price: Range from £34,730. Price as tested £41,330.
Warranty: Three years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4 Stars