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Motoring review: Jaguar on Pace with debut SUV

PUBLISHED: 12:08 06 July 2016 | UPDATED: 13:20 12 July 2016

The F-Pace looks imposing from any angle – a medium-sized SUV that also competes with larger SUVs when it comes to space and ability

The F-Pace looks imposing from any angle – a medium-sized SUV that also competes with larger SUVs when it comes to space and ability

Archant

The F-Pace marks Jaguar’s entry into the luxury sport utility vehicle market and the British company’s efforts to beat the best has paid off, says motoring editor Andy Russell

This is an SUV that thinks it’s a sports car with chassis technology and suspension and steering know-how from the F-TypeThis is an SUV that thinks it’s a sports car with chassis technology and suspension and steering know-how from the F-Type

Jaguar really is the cat that got the cream after saving the best for last in a hectic 12-month product run. Following the new XE and XF saloons and the all-wheel drive F-Type Coupe sports car is the F-Pace – Jaguar’s first sport utility crossover and its fastest selling new model.

Billed as the ultimate practical sports cars, the F-Pace is a performance crossover but, first and foremost, a Jaguar, from the new styling to the way it drives.

The looks

The F-Pace looks imposing from any angle – a medium-sized SUV that also competes with larger SUVs when it comes to space and ability. It needs to be good in such illustrious company but Jaguar has sets its sights high, benchmarking the F-Pace against the Porsche Macan for handling, BMW X4 for price and Audi Q5 for practicality.

The fascia mixes tradition and technology, class and connectivityThe fascia mixes tradition and technology, class and connectivity

The F-Pace may take the British marque in a new direction but it’s unmistakably a big cat, drawing on design cues from the F-Type.

The drive

It absolutely drives like a Jaguar. This is an SUV that thinks it’s a sports car, with chassis technology and suspension and steering know-how from the F-Type. The result is finely-honed handling and precise, well-weighted steering so it can be hustled along twisty country roads, with very little body roll, in a way that belies its size and weight – 1,665kg-1,884kg – thanks to extensive use of aluminium in the structure and bodywork. The downside is that the ride is firm, and gets firmer the bigger the wheels. Entry Prestige gets 18in alloys as standard while R-Sport - expected to be the big seller with a 2-litre diesel engine, automatic transmission and all-wheel drive – moves up to 19in ones. The launch car had been upgraded to black 20in alloys (you can have up to 22in rims) which looked good but did no favours for ride or road noise. If you want bigger wheels invest £960 in the optional adaptive dynamics pack (standard on 3-litre S models) to fine-tune the damping and soften the ride.

While not a serious off-roader, all-wheel drive models offer clever technologies such as adaptive surface response to adapt throttle, transmission and stability control to maximise available traction and all-surface progress control which looks after the selected speed while the driver just steers.

The engine

The F-Pace shares its all-wheel drive system and 340 and 380PS 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engines – 62mph in a tad over five seconds but thirsty on fuel – with the F-Type.

Most owners will go for the turbo diesels - the new 180PS Ingenium 2-litre available with six-speed manual gearbox in rear-wheel drive versions, the all-wheel drive models with excellent eight-speed auto, and the 300PS 3-litre V6. The smaller unit is gutsy enough to make decent progress, and refined unless worked hard, returning 42mpg overall. The V6 is decidedly brisk and more relaxing to drive, surging forward with the merest prod of the throttle with a whopping 700 Newton metres of torque, but returned 33mpg.

Space & comfort

It’s hard to believe the F-Pace is a mid-sized SUV; it has abundant legroom front and back, but the optional panoramic glass roof does eat into the otherwise plentiful rear headroom.

If you carry large loads you’ll appreciate the 650-l boot and all models get a powered tailgate as standard. Rear seat backs split 40/20/40 and fold flat to create a long, 1,740-litre load bay. The reversible boot floor is carpet one side and rubber the other.

At the wheel

It’s easy to feel at home in the driving seat with a good range of manual seat and wheel adjustment on Prestige and R-Sport models and even more with the Portfolio and S model’s electric seats and wheel.

The fascia mixes tradition and technology, class and connectivity with all models getting Jaguar’s intuitive InControl Touch infotainment system with eight-inch touch screen as standard while the upgraded ultra quick InControl Touch Pro, with a 10.2in screen, is Jaguar’s most advanced infotainment system.

The cabin has a quality look and feel at all the contact points and, while not as classy lower down, should prove durable and hard-wearing.

Final say

Jaguar can do no wrong at the moment with new and revised models driving up sales and desirability worldwide. But the highlight has to be the F-Pace – it combines the desirable badge and driving dynamics with the attractive practicality and popularity of a luxury SUV. It’s a winning formula.

FACT FILE

JAGUAR F-PACE 2.0 DIESEL

Engine: 1,999cc, 180PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-60mph 8.5 seconds; top speed 130mph (AWD auto 8.2 seconds, 129mph)

MPG: 57.7 combined (AWD auto 53.3)

CO2 emissions: 129g/km (AWD auto 139g/km)

JAGUAR F-PACE 3.0 DIESEL AWD

Engine: 2,993cc, 300PS, V6 turbo diesel

Performance: 0-60mph 5.8 seconds; top speed 150mph

MPG: 47.1 combined

CO2 emissions: 159g/km

Price: £34,170-£51,450

Size: L 4,731mm; W (incl door mirrors) 2,175mm; H 1,667mm

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