Jaguar’s fastest selling model, the F-Pace, feels like a sports car that just happens to have room for five people and the ability to go off-road. Competition for the F-Pace comes from BMW’s X4 and Porsche’s Macan, but the F-Pace has the distinct advantage of being from the JLR stables. What’s special about the JLR stables; you may ask. Well the fact is that Land Rover is the only car company in the world that builds SUV’s and SUV’s ONLY - and being a stable mate with that brand means that the best off-road technologies could be freely shared (with Jaguar). However, the F-Pace is by no means a re-badged Land Rover. In fact it’s underpinnings have more in common with Jaguar’s XE and XF which we have also tested in these pages. So how does Jaguar’s first foray in to SUV territory fare? Read on…
The F-Pace has a sporty look. Normally, sporty-looking 4x4s like this end up with a small boot as a result of their sloping rooflines. Not so with the F-Pace though, whose boot is larger than any of its rivals’, whether the seats are up or down. In the rear seat, too, there’s plenty of space for two adults to sit comfortably. The unmistakable contemporary Jaguar grille makes it immediately identifiable as being from the cat family. Our Test vehicle came with the standard 18 inch wheels, which are very smart indeed. However I could imagine that a set of 20 inch wheels with lower profile tyres would make it a little bit more… brutish! But then, probably not the most practical option for our road conditions.
Ian Callum, who heads the design department at Jaguar's Coventry HQ, is one of the best designers of our time. He's the guy responsible for transforming Jaguars’ image from the old-man automobile, bang up to 21st century slick pieces of art. The F-Pace fits neatly into this current design theme.
Mechanicals & Technology
Our test F-Pace had a 2.0-litre diesel engine – the most popular engine in most international markets. There is also a 2.0-litre petrol and a pair of 3.0-litre V6 units - one diesel, one petrol – that one can order. The 2.0-litre diesel can be ordered with rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. Our test vehicle had the 8 speed automatic gearbox which comes as all-wheel drive only.
The F-Pace comes with the Push-Button start stop and there is remote keyless entry. Inside there is dual zone climate control to please the driver as well as the passengers. The front seats are 10-way adjustable. There is automatic rain sensing windscreen wipers, rear fog-lights and automatic low-light sensing headlights. Cruise control with automatic speed limiter is also standard. Our test vehicle did not come equipped with a rear view camera, however had a reverse parking aid which beeps if you are too close to another object.
The 2.0-litre diesel is gutsy enough, and worked well with the eight speed transmission of our test vehicle. It is quick off the mark and has heaps of grunt at the low end. The stated 0 to 100 km/h figure of 8.7 seconds while not tested, seemed quite feasible given the peppy pick-up and torque.
At idle, the engine noise is lightly audible inside the cabin. At cruising speed you could hardly say that it is a diesel. The gear change is seamless. What impressed me most is the cornering; which is more car-like than SUV. Even though it has proper SUV specifications in that it has above average ground clearance, there is no hint of the rocking horse motion that we sometimes associate with high ground clearance vehicles.
The steering is very communicative, and adds to the persona of the F-Pace. In fact I had to look at the spec sheet of the F-Pace a second time to verify that it has got electric Power Steering; and my conclusion is that Jaguar have done an excellent job in developing this electric system. The ride is on the hard side, but for me, I prefer the solid feel of the F-Pace rather than the soft wallowy ride of some Japanese SUV’s. I would say that the F-Pace has got the ride quality just right. Given the communicative steering and the sporty ride quality, the F-Pace delivers confidence to the driver’s hands. Driven quickly, it feels planted on the road, and is a great driver’s car – or should I say SUV! With the brakes, initially the pedal feels soft, but after a point the brakes bite with tenacity – so all good.
Living with it
The F-Pace’s sweptback styling results in 650 litres of luggage space even without folding down the second-row seats. That is far above average for this class of SUV. So fret not about fitting your two large suitcases, your teenage daughter’s extra-large suitcase plus make-up bag, double stroller for the two little kids, their travel cots and yet another suitcase full of kid’s toys!
Jaguar has not strayed very far from its established conventions with the interior design. The dashboard and the swooping, free-form shapes of its features are similar to that of an XE or XF. Everything looks and feels luxurious. Material quality is good; again as we found with the XE and XF. Fit and finish standards are also excellent and you get useful convenience features such as big door bins, good size centre cubby, twin cupholders and upright storage cubbies in the sides of the center console that are designed especially to take your smartphone. The infortainment system includes a great sounding set up incorporating 6 speakers. Up front there is an 8 inch touchscreen and the total package includes Bluetooth Audio Streaming and Telephone Connectivity.
Fuel Economy & Price
The fuel consumption of 5.5L/100kms (manufacturer claim - not tested) is again class leading, and is achieved without any sacrifice from the get up and go factor. The 60 litre fuel tank is not very big compared to the competition, but would do nicely when compared to the fuel efficiency – come to think of it, why lug around unwanted weight by way of extra fuel?
Where safety is concerned, the driver and passenger gets front, side and curtain airbags. ABS is of course standard. So is Emergency Brake Assist. Although we did not test the F-Pace in off road conditions, the All-Wheel-Drive system, combined with Traction Control (effectively replicates differential lock) would make it very capable and safe for instance if you hit a muddy patch in bad weather or indeed if one wheel fell in to one of our open storm-water drains! Other safety kit include Trac DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) which is automatically enabled and detects and makes slight corrections to skids or erratic driving; Torque Vectoring technology which provides controlled independent braking on the inside wheels to maximise capability through even the tightest corners, reducing understeer and delivering sports car-like agility and added driver confidence; and the unique All-Surface Progress Control (ASPC) system developed by Jaguar engineering which helps make the F-PACE easier to drive in challenging conditions, allowing you to maintain optimum control. It can provide assistance in slippery conditions, such as ice, wet grass and mud.
Despite being the first SUV built by Jaguar, within a short period of time the F-Pace has become the best seller for Jaguar. No wonder – it looks both masculine and beautiful at the same time, and even where functionality is concerned, it is very comfortable and confident with its dual personality. The F-PACE is a performance SUV that combines maximum driving exhilaration with practicality.
2.0 litre, 4-cylinder 16 valve
280bhp @ 4,000rpm
430Nm @ 1,750-2,500rpm
All wheel drive
Front – Double Wishbone
Rear – Integral-link
Front – Ventilated Disc
Rear – Ventilated Disc
Wheels & Tyres
18inch alloy rims
0-100km/h in 8.7 seconds
Top speed 208km/h
Length – 4,731mm
Width - 2,070mm
Height – 1,651mm
Kerb Weight – 1,770kg
Fuel Tank – 60L
Boot Space – 650L