Classy Jaguar SUV drives as well as it looks
- Great ride and handling balance
- Practical design
- Low-cost 2.0-litre diesel option
- SVR is a fire-breathing monster
- Pricey against rivals
- Larger engines expensive
- Macan better to drive quickly
- Interior finish disappoints
As the the company's first entrant in the ever-expanding SUV market, the Jaguar F-Pace is a critical car for the British marque. The idea of such a car, even as recently as 10 years ago, might have seen a stretch too far for Jaguar – but here we are, and it appears to be selling well.
It enters the premium crossover arena as a rival to some impressive machines, taking on the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. It could be argued that its toughest rival is the Range Rover Velar, but Jaguar insists that the F-Pace has a more sporting road-driving bias that calls the Porsche Macan’s talents into question.
Striking design, familiar engineering
Based on the same lightweight architecture and suspensipon set-up that underpins two of Jaguar’s saloon models, the XE and the XF, the F-Pace boasts both performance and efficiency. It's a good place to start, although the F-Pace isn't as light as it should be considering such extensive use of lightweight materials.
Grabbing the low-running costs headlines is the 2.0-litre 163hp diesel rear-wheel drive model matched with a manual gearbox, with official figures of 59.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 126g/km, although it’s the slowest in the range requiring 10.2 seconds to complete the 0-62mph benchmark sprint.
Should I buy a petrol or diesel Jaguar F-Pace?
A great compromise is the more powerful 180hp version of the same engine – called 20d – with a smooth-shifting automatic feels less of a compromise: the 0-62mph sprint takes 8.5 seconds, yet Jaguar still claims 55.4mpg and 129g/km of CO2.
Fleshing the range out are a 240hp twin-turbo edition of the same diesel (badged 25d) and a 2.0-litre petrol (25t and 30t) with 250hp and 300hp respectively.
If your budget can stretch to one of the 3.0-litre V6s then you’ll appreciate the extra refinement as well as speed: the 300hp diesel requires 6.2 seconds for the 0-62mph dash, the 380hp supercharged petrol just 5.5 seconds. The downside of the latter is an eye-watering 31.7mpg official average.
How does the Jaguar F-Pace drive?
As you'd expect, the engineers charged with perfecting the Jaguar F-Pace have done a great job with its dynamics. Unlike a Land Rover or Range Rover, which has to have great off-roading capability in its DNA, the F-Pace doesn't carry this baggage, and therefore should be treated as an off-roader in as much as it will tow a horse box up a muddy hill, and complete a little light greenlaning, ably assisted by its intelligent all-wheel drive system.
On road is where it matters to the F-Pace and that's where it scores reasonably well. It’s blessed with good steering and a suspension set-up that's capable of delivering great cornering once you're used to the lofty driving position.
The ride quality is very wheel dependent. On 22-inch wheels, it struggles with bumps and ruts, while feeling fidgety on motorways. On 20-inch wheels, it's a much calmer affair, although never does it really settle down and feel as comfortable as its rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
While the F-Pace boasts the capacity to use alloys up to 22 inches in diameter, we’d suggest you steer clear: it’s a comfier car on 20-inchers and we reckon the car handles better with them, too, particularly if you opt for the adaptive suspension system.
Jaguar F-Pace: Large, tech-filled cabin
No rivals can match the Jaguar when it comes to making the cabin feel sporty. It’s been designed to make you feel a part of the driving experience, with a high shoulder line despite its lofty driving position.
While the build quality is acceptable, the richness of the plastics used for the interior lags behind its key rivals, especially the Audi. There are too many hard surfaces and the switchgear isn’t blessed with the same level of well-damped satisfaction.
The boot itself is huge and there’s plenty of room in the cabin as well, with rear headroom only slightly impeded for taller passengers if you’ve got a panoramic roof installed. You can even have reclining rear seats installed as an optional extra for another touch of luxury.
Jaguar F-Pace gadgets and technology
We are impressed with the tech on offer, though. Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro multimedia system is a significant leap over the firm’s earlier offerings and represents a big step forward in terms of its responsiveness. Is it at the cutting edge of what's on offer, though? No.
In-car, wi-fi along with a number of apps, are on hand to make best use of the car’s systems, while other clever features include an Activity Key – a waterproof, wearable car key – and a powered tailgate, which is standard on all models.
Jaguar F-Pace SVR: taking the fight to the Porsche Macan
In March 2018, the long-awaied range-topping Jaguar F-Pace SVR (below) was unveiled.
It's powered by a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that F-Type owners will be more than familiar with. It develops 550hp, and Jaguar says it will dash from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds. Unlike its German rivals, its maximum speed isn't limited, either – so it tops out at 176mph.
It features uprated suspension, a new rear electronic differential to manage the power, torque vectoring, and a Quickshift automatic transmission. To make it look the part, the SVR gets a revised and clean-looking front end, and a rear bumper that houses four exhaust tailpipes and a mini flip-up spoiler. Standard wheels are 21-inch alloys, but 22in wheels are an option.
Inside, you get slimline leather sports seats with ‘lozenge’ quilting and an embossed SVR logo. Up to four upholstery colour combos can be specced. It's available to order from the summer of 2018 at £74,835.
The Parkers Verdict
The Jaguar F-Pace SUV is a stylish and sporty alternative to more rational family off-roaders like the Audi Q5 or Mercedes-Benz GLC.
It’s great to drive and if you pick one of the 3.0-litre engines, boasts an exciting amount of power to contrast the generous interior space and comfort.
Rivals offer a better interior finish but that’s the only nit we can pick in this talented and handsome SUV.
Read on for the full Jaguar F-Pace SUV review