Car reviews - Jaguar - F-Pace - 20d Prestige
Exterior styling, cabin space, dynamic handling, well-weighted steering, sharp turn-in
Room for improvement
Ride firm-ish for a family hauler, options list confounding, rear headroom snug with sunroof, infotainment gremlins
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17 Nov 2016
Price and equipment
THE entry-level Jaguar F-Pace is what we’re sampling, the Prestige turbo-diesel automatic that starts from $74,340 plus on-road costs, a little over $10,000 cheaper than the V6 drinking the same fuel and just under $10K cheaper than the supercharged V6.
The F-Pace gets its “Jaguar Drive Control” drive mode system (but no standard adaptive damping within it), cruise control, leather trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with gearshift paddles, two-way powered tailgate, chrome exterior trim, 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition, 10-way power-adjustable front seats with 4-way lumber support, a rear armrest with two cupholders, three 12-volt power sockets (or five if no quad-zone climate is optioned), satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio link and a 40/20/40 split fold rear seat expanding what is an already-decent load-space.
The standard Meridian sound system has 380 watts of power feeding 11 speakers (including a sub-woofer) and can be fed by USB or Bluetooth input, although plugging an iPhone in for music did cause some consternation from the Jag, freezing the 8.0-inch touchscreen, something not uncommon with the breed.
As seems to be the case with many luxury road test vehicles, the options list is extensive, expensive and has been well utilised, adding the sliding panoramic sunroof – that erodes rear headroom a little – for $4200, as well as the quad-zone climate control for an additional $2000.
The Luxury Pack adds configurable interior ambient lighting, premium carpet mats, an illuminated door trim kick plate and boot scuff plate for $2000.
Keyless entry is an $1800 option, seat heating front and rear adds $1600 (although it’s a popular option with rugrats mid-winter), a tow bar set-up to utilise the 2400kg braked towing capacity adds $950, digital radio reception for the sound system adds $900 as does rear privacy glass window tinting.
Power adjustment for the reach’n’rake of the leather-wrapped steering wheel adds $850, gloss black finish for the 19-inch alloys and gloss black trim additions and a cooled glovebox are also among the options added to the test car, which finished up with a price as tested finished up at $93,210 before it gets plates and hits the road.
That still gets it into a shopping list around where the Porsche Macan kicks off in diesel S guise, as well as giving BMW X3/5 and Audi Q5/7 customers something about which to think.
The F-Pace also undercuts the Lexus RX and Volvo XC90 AWD models as well as going toe-to-toe on price with the Infiniti QX70 range.
Deceptively large thanks in no small part to the attractive, aggressive yet svelte exterior styling, the F-Pace is endowed with a spacious cabin.
Trimmed in what Jaguar labels ‘Taurus’ leather, the interior is flush with gloss back and metallic trim to a standard expected by someone in this price bracket.
The sweeping style of dashboard seen in the XE and XF sedans, with which it shares much of its underpinnings and mechanicals, features the now-familiar pop-up circular gear selector and the wide touchscreen control panel (flanked by somewhat redundant shortcut buttons) for the nav, climate and audio controls.
The driver gets traditional dials which are large enough to see clearly, although the darkened numbers on the odd increments isn’t to this driver’s taste, discomfort offset by the presence of a digital speed readout at the top of the centre display which has trip computer and other key information.
In-cabin storage is useful without being extensive, with only a small console under the driver’s right elbow and door pockets that could be bigger.
A thick-rimmed leather steering wheel and a high-set centre console give the driver some sense of the SUV’s bloodlines, but where some of its ancestors have had snug rear seating (or none at all), the F-Pace easily accommodates adults in the rear.
Only taller folks will brush the headliner and front seat backs with head or knees respectively, but for the most part there’s ample space in the rear.
Boot space is more than ample at 508 litres when five are aboard, rising to 1740 litres if the 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat is folded flat.
The boot floor is also reversible for the purposes of transporting muddy mutts or sports gear, although if the full-size spare wheel is optioned this feature sadly disappears.
Engine and transmission
The 2.0-litre DOHC variable-geometry turbo alloy four-cylinder diesel is asked to propel 1775kg of Jag SUV - made lighter than it might have been using 80 per cent aluminium – and it does so with some diligence.
Peak power is 132kW at 4000rpm with 430Nm contributing between 1725 and 2500rpm and while it’s not the quietest diesel four-cylinder on the market, it’s not noisy per se.
There’s little of the clatter that afflicts many four-pot oil-burners but the thrum is noticeable, if not offensive.
Euro 6 compliant, it has variable exhaust valve timing, as well as running the emissions-reducing selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation to reduce NOx and CO2.
The SCR system injects AdBlue urea solution into the exhaust gas and converts the NOx into nitrogen and water.
For refinement purposes the four-cylinder is matched to a clever ZF eight-speed auto that is fitted with a pendulum damper in the torque converter to absorb low frequency vibrations.
Jaguar claims a sprint of 8.7 seconds to 100km/h and a 208km/h top speed and from behind the wheel there’s little to suggest that’s optimistic, but the little turbo-diesel does take a second to gather its thoughts before putting the drivetrain to serious work.
In-gear bursts feel more purposeful if the revs are toward the mid-range, but down low there’s some hesitation before the big cat gets properly underway.
The British brand also claims 5.3 litres per 100km on the ADR combined cycle from the small 60 litre tank and the trip computer was reading 8.6 litres per 100km at 36km/h after our time in the car.
The driving was pro-active and spirited on occasion, which is also far from sympathetic to frugal fuel economy, yet the Jag managed to keep its thirst respectable.
Ride and handling
If you’re getting behind the wheel of a Jaguar – even if it’s an SUV – there’s an expectation of a sporting drive and the F-Pace doesn’t disappoint.
A rear-drive biased all-wheel drive system, well-weighted steering and torque vectoring functionality within the braking system conspire to deliver ample traction and sharp turn-in on par with the segment leaders.
If traction becomes an issue the front axle can receive some drive in 165 milliseconds, but the brand prefers to leave the steering unsullied by power delivery unless absolutely necessary.
Daily running in normal modes is a smooth and unfussed exercise for the most part, and while ride comfort from the double-wishbone front and ‘integral’ multi-link rear suspension – equipped in this instance with monotube dampers – plays second fiddle to the demeanour in the corners, it’s not without enough compliance to prevent passengers from whinging.
Opting for Sport mode in the transmission, as well as the drive control system, sharpens up the attitude of the auto, as well as the throttle and steering feel from the electrically-assisted variable ratio helm.
If the adaptive dampers option box had been ticked it would toughen them too, but the result is an aggressive attitude minus the ride comfort reduction.
Selecting Sport mode also changes the ambient and dash lighting from blue to red, perhaps as a warning to passengers, as well as offering a genuine manual gearshift via the wheel-mounted paddles.
While it doesn’t look like a rock-hopper there’s a level of off-road ability that is better than many in the segment, with electronic traction systems – offshoots of cousin Land Rover’s Terrain Response system – that can be tailored to the surface.
All Surface Progress Control is also part of the Jag’s electronic arsenal, an offered cruise control of sorts that runs between 3.6 and 30km/h, with speeds set using the cruise control switches, or there’s also a Low-Friction Launch function for slippery conditions – snow bunnies (likely the main target market) will make good use of this feature.
Given there’s 213mm of ground clearance, a 25.5 degree approach and 26-degree departure angle and a 525mm wading depth – all improvements over the Lexus RX, BMW’s X3 and X5 and Porsche’s Macan among others – it’s not without some numbers to suggest off-road prowess.
Safety and servicing
There’s no crash test rating from ANCAP yet but the XE and XF siblings both ranked five stars.
It features standard autonomous emergency braking now including a pedestrian detection function, as well as lane departure warning, stability, trailer sway and traction control, including the off-road programming which does well maintaining traction even on road-biased rubber.
There’s also automatic bi-Xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, front foglights, auto-dimming mirrors inside and out, power-folding and heated exterior mirrors, tyre pressure monitoring, emergency brake assist, six airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
Standard fare includes a space saver spare wheel, with the option of a full-sized spare for $1000, but that removes the reversible boot floor from the features list.
Jaguar’s factory warranty is a three-year unlimited kilometre cover with roadside assistance, with the option of 12 or 24 months and up to 200,000km of additional conditional coverage “similar to the original manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty” with an asterisk pointing to terms and conditions too lengthy to replicate here.
Servicing is condition-based by way of indicators in the central display, but the service plan available for the two-litre diesel has maintenance checks every two years or 34,000km.
Jaguar calls the F-Pace it’s “most practical sportscar” and while that might be sales and marketing people playing a bit fast and loose with the facts, there’s no shortage of sportiness in this particular SUV.
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is willing and reasonably able – if serious velocity is your thing you’d be looking at the bigger diesel, the supercharged V6 (with a pricetag of $90,000 and beyond) or waiting for the inevitable SVR model.
But the entry F-Pace is no slouch, offering grace, space and pace while asking less than its German and Japanese rivals.
Porsche Macan diesel S from $92,800 plus on-road costs
The sleeper of the Macan range punches much harder than the tally of its specifications suggest, offering a remarkable ride quality that is only surpassed by its entertaining and sublime point-to-point handling prowess and clever all-wheel drive system. Not as attractive to most eyes as the Jag, the wieldy and frugal little Porsche also falls short of the big Brit for cabin space and price.
BMW X5 25d xDrive from $91,155 plus on-road costs
Closer in size to the Jag than the X3, BMW’s successful SUV is one of the more capable on-road SUVs that the German brand has produced, but the price tag makes the narrow gap it may have in road manners over the Jag not worth the difference. BMW badge cachet, resale and reliability reputation might tip some buyers in the big US-built SUV’s favour.
Audi Q5 3.0 TDI from $78,555 plus on-road costs
Shares much of its platform with the Macan but the previous generation’s brittle ride quality and front-drive bias within the AWD system put it behind the eight-ball in comparison to its Porsche sibling. It has the grunt to outdo the Jag but conservative styling and smaller interior space, as well as metal for the money, puts the Jag on shopping lists.
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