As you no doubt know, the Jaguar F-Pace has been warmly received and is highly regarded. What’s not to like, after all? It is stylish and well made right here in Britain; it drives with athletic prowess and there’s ample space for the whole family yet I couldn’t quite help harbouring a slight sense of disappointment when the first snaps appeared. I guess I was hoping for something different and more exciting. I’m not complaining though; after all I am very fortunate to be loaned these cars and the distinctive Jaguar F-Pace almost reaches the pinnacle of the prestige SUV pole.
Is There A Problem?
No, not really. Every car maker from here to there and back again has been clambering on to the frenetic SUV bandwagon over recent years and to my jaundiced eye they are all beginning to look the same. They come with two or four-wheel drive, the latter offering a modicum of modest off-road usability. Even the cheaper brands are more than competent for most consumer needs. The sector is getting uniform and if you want proof of this have a look a the 2018 Skoda Yeti. This popular and quirky car that a helicopter can land on will morph into a bland Tiguan lookalike. That’s a shame.
Where’s the pizazz, car makers? Where’s the attitude of automotive daring-do? Where’s the breath of minty-fresh design air? The Jaguar F-Pace for all its accomplished attributes retains the Jaguar family resemblance. It has the same face and the same, albeit fabulous, interior.
To be fair, I’ve not noticed anyone else mentioning it and at least the F-Pace has attractive F-Type-like styling that hints at speed and some attractive styling details. Will any SUV ever really be truly beautiful? It’s not just Jaguar Land Rover. All manufacturers are complicit in this trend.
The featured car came with the same 2.0L diesel ‘Ingenium’ engine common to the range. With a 0-62mph speed of just over eight seconds this 177bhp version isn’t especially quick off the line but does have some real in-gear performance. The car is quiet in use but the engine does get a tad vocal if you give it some welly. Other, more powerful, engines are available but this is the one that everybody will want, combining as it does reasonable frugality with a modicum of decent performance.
There’s none of that SUV lean into corners either and the general driving dynamics are very much akin to the Jaguar saloons rather than utility vehicles. On the go the F-Pace changes direction without drama and with the assistance of torque vectoring, sending back lots of reassuring road feel. Sprightly is the word. In fact, Jaguar are calling this a sports car and certainly there’s no SUV lumber here. I especially liked the rear-wheel bias of the AWD and you can really feel that 430Nm torque push accelerating out of bends.
Of the competition I would contend that it is a better drive than the Audi Q5; sadly I can’t compare the Jaguar F-Pace to the BMW X4 because I haven’t driven the latter car. I have however had a good drive in the brilliant Porsche Macan, which drives like a Porsche and handles like a Porsche so perhaps the comparison is a little unfair. On the plus side the Jaguar scores on roominess and a prestige interior quality rivalling that of the German motor.
The test car came with an eight-speed automatic gearbox with Jaguar sequential shift. You can get a manual box but I don’t know why you would. Paddles are available which may be useful in some conditions but don’t really add anything to the entertaining progress. The Drive setting is fine for normal progress but there’s much more fun to be had by selecting Sport on the rotary selector and adding a dose of Dynamic via the Terrain-Response selector. This soon became my default setting.
The Jaguar F-Pace has four-wheel drive but it isn’t really an off-roader. Certainly, by way of the Terrain-Response it can be set up to deal with mud or snow and that’s all most people want. Certainly a boon on our rotten winter roads.
The driving seat and position in the the Jaguar F-Pace is a delight. I have seldom been more settled. The seats are commodious yet supportive front and back. Passengers in the back mentioned a limo-like comfort. The boot is cavernous, comes with a reversible floor and is ideal for family luggage. There’s plenty of storage with big door bins.
As ever, all the lifestyle and navigation goodies are all on board, many as standard. Options included the ‘Perpendicular Parking System’ and the 360° Parking. That’s great but I didn’t find this big car hard to park anyway. For a detailed look at the specification see below.
The panoramic sunroof combined with the ‘Oyster’ leather upholstery made the passenger compartment light and airy but I’d consider a darker shade if children are part of the family equation.
Wouldn’t Say No
Despite my minor grumbles about wanting something innovative and exciting from mainstream car designers I wouldn’t say no to life with the Jaguar F-Pace. Certainly more stylish than many lesser motors it does the SUV job and does it well. There’s no seven-seat option but that’s hardly a criticism.
The Jaguar F-Pace is a great all-rounder with plenty of room for five and, crucially for me, is, for a big motor, a very entertaining drive. It’s got the lot and deserves the plaudits it has received. Geoff Maxted