It would be easy to dismiss the Jaguar F-Pace as merely a bland, boring SUV – one of many new jacked-up crossovers, only more premium. But that would be a mistake, as Jaguar’s 4x4 is one of the most accomplished SUVs we’ve ever got behind the wheel of. It rivals the Porsche Macan, both overtaking the Cayenne, for the SUV top spot. It exhibits poise and composure down demanding B-roads and, when threading it through corners, it’s truly involving as the four-wheel drive system perceptibly hunts for grip. We’d even go as far to say that it’s actually fun, even if it isn’t quite as engaging as a well-sorted estate or saloon.
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A lot of the F-Pace’s athleticism comes from its underpinnings, some of which it borrows from Jag’s sportiest model, the F-type. It doesn’t, sadly, get the sports car’s supercharged V8, yet. But, the V6 engines that are available are decent, especially the 3-litre diesel that suits the F-Pace well.
Jaguar F-Pace in detail
Performance and 0-60 time – Neither blistering, nor disappointing, the F-Pace is brisk but not fast.
Engine and gearbox – Possibly, for the first time ever, we recommend the diesel automatic version.
Ride and handling – The most impressive part of the F-Pace is the way that it drives on the road. Its composed, engaging and definitely fun.
MPG and running costs – The F-Pace comparable to its rivals in terms of economy, that’s to say respectable for an SUV but far from exceptional.
Interior and tech – Minimal buttons make a neat design, while the animated gear selector dial adds some theatre.
Design – Jaguar’s design language has been adapted to the F-Pace’s SUV shape well. What’s more, this is one Jaguar you can tell apart from the other in the range.
Prices, specs and rivals
Opening the F-Pace range is a rear-wheel drive, manual 2-litre diesel in Prestige trim, priced just under £35k. Above that, the R-Sport trim can be had with various exterior tweaks such as xenon headlights and LED DRLs. Then comes the Portfolio trim, adding features such as keyless entry, a more powerful stereo, 10-way adjustable leather seats, and a fixed panoramic glass roof. At the very top of the range sits the £75k F-Pace SVR, featuring JLR’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 for a power output of 542bhp.
All F-Pace models apart from the two entry-level powertrains come with an automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system. The cheapest trim to feature all-wheel-drive is the manual 2-litre diesel, costing around £37k with the manual gearbox.
The 25d and 30d diesel derivatives deliver considerably more performance producing 237bhp and 296bhp respectively. The former is only a few thousand past the £40k point whereas the latter breaches £50k. The 25t is the cheapest of the three petrol powered versions and is similarly priced to the 25d but isn’t as economical. The range-topping 3-litre S AWD is almost £53k, some £10k more than the 30t AWD.
The Jaguar F-Pace occupies a space in the jam-packed premium midsize SUV market where Porsche reigns supreme. Entry to the Porsche Macan range is about £10k above that of the F-Pace, but justifiably so - the base Macan is more potent, automatic and four-wheel drive. That said, an equivalent F-Pace would still come in a few thousand pounds cheaper. There’s little to separate the Jaguar and Porsche in terms of dynamics as the two are the most engaging to drive in class.
The BMW and the Audi Q5 were cited as benchmarks in the initial development phase of the F-Pace before Jaguar refocused its attention on the Macan. The Audi Q5 is undoubtedly a great machine, featuring the solid build quality you'd’ expect from an Ingolstadt product, but it can’t provide you with as much satisfaction behind the wheel as the F-Pace. Nor are the BMW and Audi priced as competitively as the F-Pace – both will cost at least £40k once you specify just a few options-and or packages.
Our first drive of the Alfa Romeo’s new Stelvio shows signs that it could be a contender for the small SUV crown. The 2-litre four-cylinder petrol powered model that we had access revealed the Stelvio to be a premium feeling, fun car. However, the 503bhp Quadrifoglio version that Alfa has promised to make will be the car that gets both Jaguar and Porsche worried.