The F-Pace does not ride like a plush, luxurious, premium SUV; it is no Range Rover after all. Instead, the body control is tense and the ride is relatively firm, but the result of the slightly-less-than-comfortable ride is a very agile machine and remarkable body control.
Turn in hard and the F-Pace stays uncharacteristically flat and level for an SUV. Unless you’re too aggressive with the steering, there’s no understeer, but a little bit of trail braking brings the rear around even more readily. With the nose tucked in you can get on the power early in the corner and catapult yourself away from the exit.
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The four-wheel drive system initially favours the rear axle, and you can certainly feel the back tyres dealing with the extra torque. Moments after hitting the throttle – the diesel V6 can need a bit of time to react – the rear begins to push the back around. In slower corners, where the acceleration is more pronounced, the front tyres are called in to help and you start to feel them nibble away at the tarmac.
The tyres chirp and squeal in protest as they struggle to keep the tall Jag on line, but they do withstand a lot of punishment. Turn all the systems off, rely purely on mechanical grip, and the F-Pace feels much the same. However, the rear will give up first; not dramatically, as the front tyres are always called upon to reign in any truly exuberant behavior, but enough to be able to use the throttle to manipulate the F-Pace's handling attitude.
It might not be as seamless or as sophisticated as the best and most advanced four-wheel drive systems, but the F-Pace’s drivetrain makes it more involving than its rivals. The tangible amounts of adjustability that it serves up aren’t only impressive for a SUV, but it trumps many four-wheel drive saloons and hatchbacks, too.
That’s not to say the handling hasn’t been compromised by its lofty ride-height, though; at the very limits, when you ask a lot of the F-Pace, it doesn’t quite maintain its composure. Large crests taken at speed expose its weight, which is usually so well hidden, and really tight corners do induce a touch more body roll than feels appropriate.
The F-Pace is very impressive to drive though; it’s controlled, involving and very fast. Although Jaguar haven’t completely defied physics, they’ve done a fine job of getting close.
‘It doesn’t take far to appreciate just how good the F-Pace is. It’s one of those cars that you can get into and drive with no requirement to adjust to any idiosyncrasies or learn to read its feedback. It feels as natural to drive as an F-type.’ Stuart Gallagher, Managing editor