The latest in JLRs seemingly unstoppable rollercoaster of new models. This premium SUV seems to be smash hit right from the off, is it for all the right reasons? Either way… Sir William Lyons would be proud!
F-Pace… Grace… And Space:
The Jaguar F-Pace without any doubt has become a familiar sight on the roads and rightly so, for it contains the right ingredients of a modern Jaguar car. Its blessed with good looks, the rather splendid i4 diesel engine and a well engineered chassis – everything in fact that all current JLR products seem to have built into them right from the drawing board. I’ve just recently spent many miles behind the wheel of an all wheel drive version in R-Sport flavour to find it most surprising and impressive in many areas. The first thing that I noticed was how big it actually is, and despite many components being shared with the XE, a baby Jaguar it most certainly isn’t.
Constructed from both alloy and steel the shut lines and overall external fit, finish and quality are on a par with premium vehicles of this class. The Rhodium silver pain job (a £675 option) looked mill pond reflective in appearance, the gloss black grille and optional “Venom” 20 inch alloys also gave the car a classy and slightly aggressive stance. In fact, shortly after delivery a neighbour was soon stood on the driveway admiring the overall look of the car. I know that styling is an opinionated point of view but virtually everyone who looked or travelled inside seemed to remark just how appealing this all new Jaguar really is.
Inside however, I wasn’t as impressed as the exterior. The R-Sport trim level isn’t basic by any stretch of the imagination and the two tone black / red leather seating does look smart – as does the LED mood lighting in the doors cards at night. The dash is pretty much lifted from the current XE that has the new style of tunnel effect instruments which works well, but I did think that some of the plastics feel a bit cheap to the touch – especially the sides of the chunky transmission tunnel which were notably hard and scratchy in texture. For a big car it would be nice to have a reversing camera but Jaguar have opted not to fit one on this model – though you do get front and rear parking sensors.
It was also noted that the audio system lacked the usual Meridian sourced upgrade which is the norm with JLR test vehicles. If you are really into your sound quality, you may need to think about upgrading the unit from the one that comes as standard. The 80 watts is loud enough, its just lacking in that quality sound. Also, the sat nav is rather slow to respond to your inputs and the display lacks the clarity of some rival systems. That said the trip computer is in-depth and virtually every eco read out is available through the touch screen.
The most noticeable facet about the F-Pace is the driving position, once in the seat you sit in a very car-like environment. Not at all like some Transit van feeling that one or two other SUV class members can emulate. There’s plenty of arm, head and legroom despite that aforementioned large transmission tunnel and rear passengers are blessed with a similar impressive amount head and above average legroom. A multi folding rear seat also gains brownie points for practicality and the cargo deck is flat and features a 12v power socket. Boot space is good enough and I found the reversible floor with a clever non slip easy wipe covering a nice thoughtful inclusion to a family vehicle. A decent sized glove box and a whole host of spaces for odds, ends, bottles and so on also feature.
Getting down to driving the car, its a mixture of good and indifferent. Around the doors the 180PS 2.0 diesel performs well enough and light throttle usage brings credible refinement, smoothness and decent fuel consumption. Press on out of town and the engine can get rather vocal and a bit prone to vibration at the upper end of the rev range. I also noticed a strong driveline vibration when accelerating up a long banked stretch of a motorway in top gear from around 60 to 75 mph. It seems I’m not alone on this one either as a friend of a colleague who also runs the same driveline is in discussions with his dealer with the same issue. Its not a major fault… more like a bit of an irritant that could easily be ironed out in future cars – it is an all new design after all.
Again Jaguar have created a drivers car. The confidence you gain from the road holding and handling mirrors all other current Jaguar vehicles. The steering is well weighted and has oodles of feel at the rim, the ride is a good compromise of sporting and comfy, the brakes offer tremendous stopping power and despite being a lofty shape, the centre of gravity feels low and car-like. To make no bones about it, the F-Pace really does shuffle around the back roads really well, the only minus point is the slightly fidgety feel at lower speeds on rougher roads – though tyre noise at speed is well insulated. The engine performs well with swift kick down on demand but the ratios seem short until you reach 7th or 8th.
Once you are settled at a steady cruising speed, you soon forgive the shortcomings of a vocal engine and shortish gearing. Motorway or A road refinement is up there with the best and as I have said before, the overall feeling on the road and driving position of the car soon have you forgetting you are in command of a lofty SUV type vehicle. All it needs is a little nip here and tuck there in terms of its interior component quality and it will turn a very good car into an excellent one. Overall the F-Pace is a thoroughly enjoyable car to drive either end of the motoring spectrum – town or motorway.
As a final note, its worth mentioning that if you are looking for a genuine off-road car, the F-Pace is not for you. The system offers none of the terrain options you’ll find in a Discovery Sport for example. It does however offer tremendous grip on loose or wet / grassy surfaces. If style and off road substance are your criteria’s then an Evoque could be a better option… but for those looking for a premium SUV with four wheel drive, the F-Pace should tick your boxes nicely.
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 7/10
MODEL TESTED: Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport 180PS AWD
DRIVELINE: 1999cc 16v turbo diesel (Eu6) with 8 speed auto gearbox and four wheel drive
POWER & TORQUE: 180PS / 430Nm
PRICE: £40,360 excluding options
PERFORMANCE: *0-60 in 8.2 seconds 129mph max
ECONOMY / Co2: *53.3mpg combined (48.7 on actual test) 139g/km
* Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
WHATS HOT: Impressive chassis control – Sharp styling – Good performance – Practical – Comfortable front & rear – Cruising refinement – Economical – Excellent driving position – No cost option two tone red / black interior looks superb – Good steering and brakes.
WHATS NOT: Interior build quality could be better – Some driveline vibrations noted – Rearward visibility – Slow to react infotainment and sat nav – Starts getting expensive when you tick the options boxes – Gets noisy when you drive that bit harder.
For more information on the Jaguar F-Pace CLICK HERE