The Sports Utility Vehicle boom sweeping the world means that no manufacturer can afford NOT to have a 4×4 or crossover in its range.This year alone has seen debut SUVs from Maserati, Bentley, and now Jaguar with its F-Pace.
Arguably the best looking car in its sector, Jaguar is billing the F-Pace as “a performance crossover for those who love driving, with unrivalled dynamics and everyday usability”. So, no pressure there then.
Bigger than a Audi Q5 and BMW X3, but smaller than a BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport, it’s closest in size to the superb Porsche Macan, which is also its main rival.
Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons would be pleased with the car too. He demanded that his vehicles should always have Grace, Space and Pace, and at first sight, the F-Pace doesn’t disappoint.
It’s big, but still manages to look graceful. It’s certainly spacious, and thanks to its combination of lightweight aluminium architecture borrowed from the XE and XF saloons and a range of engines including an economical 2-0-litre diesel, powerful 3.0-litre V6 diesel and raucous 375bhp supercharged V6 petrol, it has pace,
Competitively priced from £35,020 to £65,275, I tested an “entry-level” car with a 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel in Portfolio trim which comes with all-wheel drive and slick eight-speed ZF auto gearbox as standard.
On paper it’s capable of reaching 60mph in 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 129mph, while returning 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km.
On the road the engine is lively enough, if a little gruff under hard acceleration, but it soon settles down and cruises well.
If economy is not top of your list, then the smooth V6 diesel or the vocal V6 petrol (lifted straight from the the F-Type) are the engines to opt for.
The F-Pace is one of those cars that feels special from behind the wheel. Comfortable with a commanding view of the road over that huge bonnet complete with trademark Jaguar bulge, it has serious road presence.
There’s bags of room inside for tall adults up front and in the rear, though it should be noted that it does not have a third row of seats like some big SUVs. There’s also 650 litres of space in the boot which increases to a cavernous 1,740 litres with the seats down.
There are four driving modes available – Normal, Eco and Dynamic – as well as an all-weather mode for more challenging terrain. And while it’s not billed as a hardcore 4×4 like its Land Rover cousins, it’s very capable off-road.
Riding on optional 20-inch alloys with standard suspension, the ride is firm and there’s noticeable body lean when driven in a spirited fashion, so if you’re tempted to buy an F-Pace and you want your handling as sharp as the Porsche Macan, I’d go for the optional adaptive suspension.
It’s also worth upgrading to the bigger 10.2-inch InControl Pro touchscreen infotainment system.