Car reviews - Jaguar - F-Pace - 35t R-Sport
Style, ride comfort, off-road ability, drivetrain performance
Room for improvement
Fuel thirst, fuel range, poor value for money, weak feature list and overblown options
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20 Dec 2016
By NEIL DOWLING
Price and equipment
JAGUAR presents the F-Pace in 11 variations from the $74,340 before on-roads entry-level 2.0-litre turbo-diesel Prestige through to the 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol and diesel models that peak at $120,415 plus costs for the First Edition.
So there’s plenty of choice. While the small-bore diesel and petrol models suit a sheltered urban existence, the V6 models can stretch their legs into towing and long-distance holiday cruising.
At $89,505, our test F-Pace R-Sport comes packing a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine, with a claimed acceleration time akin to a two-door German sports sedan – 5.8 seconds.
Pricing also puts it close to a BMW 3 Series 340i sedan, but with an increased ride-height and more storage options, the F-Pace would be the one to pick for beachy, sea-side drives or the occasional jaunt down an unsealed road.
The curling point is what you get for your money. Jaguar prints out an exhaustive list of options – some you may think should be mandatory – to accompany the F-Pace’s entry ticket, and some of these options can be very expensive.
You may need metallic paint ($1800) or even the more dazzling premium paint ($3600) maybe heated front seats ($800) keyless entry (a budget-price car freebie yet $1800 in the F-Pace) digital radio (see previous comment but pay $900 extra here) and the neat activity key that straps to your wrist so you can surf and swim securely in the knowledge that the car is locked – a mere $640.
So this is what you do get: six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, bi-Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, lane departure warning, front and rear park sensors, and a reversing camera for safety. Inside there’s 11 speakers, leather upholstery and satellite navigation.
There is a lot missing and a walk through a rival showroom – think Lexus or even Jeep – may leave you feeling decidedly lacking, perhaps even ripped off.
What revives the love though, is the way the F-Pace looks.
A snarling mouth and nostrils, narrowed eyes, and gruff profile, may not be the premium SUV norm, but the F-Pace carries its sports-oriented, look-at-me powerhouse stance with aplomb.
This Jaguar definitely suits owners who love to drive rather than occupy school drop-off zones.
The cabin is a cross between a sportscar and family wagon, with a bent towards subtle quality.
It shares the boat-tailed hoop that connects the inner door trim at the base of the windows in a sweep that continues beneath the windscreen. It’s used on other Jaguars – most effectively, the XJ – and looks pretty neat.
Upgrading Jaguar owners will also find a familiar rotary dial gear selector that rises theatrically from the console, the “heartbeat” red start button, and big, effective and mostly comprehensive entertainment touchscreen.
From there the rest of the cabin is predictable. Though this sits in the “large” category of SUVs, it’s not overly generous in accommodation for rear-seat occupants.
The headroom is excellent but the seats feel short under the thighs and knee room can be confined if the driver needs to sit at a distance from the steering wheel.
Then there’s the boot. Actual available space is good, with 650 litres when the triple-fold rear seats are in place and a respectable 1740 litres when folded down.
Check that against some rivals and it’s fair. The Lexus RX has 453-924 litres the Mercedes-Benz GLE is 690-2010 litres and the BMW X5 is 650-1870 litres.
Tick the full-size spare wheel on the option list ($1000) and the boot floor has to be ingloriously raised with a bulge that shrinks cargo space and makes loading difficult on the uneven surface.
Engine and transmission
Our F-Pace featured a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 – the same engine shared with the Jaguar F-Type two-door sportscar – and is good for 250kW at 6500rpm and 450Nm of torque at a rather high 4500rpm.
On the road the F-Pace is no slouch, chirping its wheels as it sprints from zero to 100km/h in a respectable 5.8 seconds. At the same time, Jaguar claims an average of 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres – which sounds impressive on paper, but we never came close that figure.
For most of our vehicle testing, we stick to the same drive route, and in the F-Pace we averaged 13.2L/100km, a thirst that is magnified by the wagon’s tiny 63 litre fuel tank. Average that consumption rate and the range is a mere 477km.
It’s a good reason to contemplate the 3.0-litre diesel version of the F-Pace that will extend the range to 707km (at a tested average of 8.9 L/100km).
All F-Pace models have constant all-wheel drive – but no low-range transfer case – and an eight-speed ZF torque converting automatic transmission.
It drives the rear wheels for the majority of time, honouring its sibling status with the Jaguar sports coupes, and will send torque to the front wheels through an electronic transfer case only when the rear loses traction or the driver selects an off-road mode.
Basically, like many rivals, the wheels have sensors to detect traction and when found wanting, the control unit will brake the slipping wheel to redirect torque to the wheel(s) with traction. This all-wheel-drive layout actually comes from the AWD versions of the F-Type sports coupe.
Our test vehicle was taken through some wet gravel trails and across some beach sand sections without any concern, though the 255/55R19 tyres have precious little extra footprint when partially deflated.
As such, it is equally as capable in the dirt as some rivals and is helped by the relatively low 1820kg dry weight and reasonable 207mm ground clearance.
Adventurous buyers will note the 2400kg tow rating.
On the road the engine performance consumes the F-Pace. It defines the wagon and perhaps unfortunately so as some would deem it to be a competitor to the more polished Audi SQ5.
The F-Pace 35t R-Sport is quick and fun to drive with an exhaust that is pure theatre. It handles well – but not really like a sports car – and has a lot more character and emotion than the Porsche Macan.
You could enjoy the F-Pace for a long drive, but unfortunately, thanks to the size of the fuel tank, you won’t have much time for a long drive.
Ride and handling
The F-Pace is based on the Jaguar XE/XF platform – called the iQ-Al and destined for more Jaguar Land Rover models – and like these sedans, has an all-alloy body and substructure predominantly made of aluminium and magnesium (dashboard cross members).
So now we know where the money was spent and perhaps why this is no cheap exercise.
The wheelbase is 2874mm, an extension of the XE’s 2835mm and a reduction on the XF’s 2960mm base.
The F-Pace borrows the front double wishbone suspension from the XF and F-Type with its own unique tuning, and the rear suspension is a multi-ink derivative called Integral Link that appears for only the second time after its debut on the XE.
This suspension claims to better control the horizontal and vertical movements of the wheels and makes tuning easier for different demands of the ride-handling characteristics in various models.
The F-Pace uses an electric-assist steering system, like its siblings, and though the electronics are tuned for the F-Pace’s slightly more relaxed steering feel, shares most steering and brake hardware.
The sum of these parts aims to appeal to a family wanting a quiet and supple ride and the predominantly male driver who has latent tendencies to hoon.
Jaguar has done a very good job with the ride and handling in the F-Pace. It feels sporty but ignores calls for a firm ride so it is more relaxed through corners. Only when things become clouded by red mist does the high-standing wagon begin to feel a bit uncomfortable, ideally making the driver back off.
Though the Macan can hold its line through a corner with more precision, the F-Pace is more compliant and the steering requires less effort, which will be a winner for a family’s different drivers.
Safety and servicing
Jaguar Land Rover Australia wanted the F-Pace to win customers on ownership as well as the driving experience.
It came up with a one-cost aftersales program with five years of maintenance that could be purchased anytime from the point of sale up to the first service.
In the case of the 35t R-Sport model tested here, the cost for the five years of scheduled servicing – remembering that items outside this program will be charged extra – is a mere $1500. The V6 diesel model costs $1750 for the same period and the 2.0-litre models are even cheaper.
Servicing is annual and up to 26,000km (which seems a bit excessive) and the warranty for the vehicle is three years or unlimited distance.
Safety equipment as standard is modest, with the top-end standard gear including autonomous emergency braking, tyre pressure monitoring system, front and rear park sensors, a reversing camera, lane departure warning, LED daytime running lights, and big, bright bi-Xenon headlights.
But to keep up with your mates in a Volvo XC90s, for example, you will have to pay extra for blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert ($1120 combined) adaptive cruise ($3200) and 360-degree surround camera ($2050).
This is a striking sports wagon that moves away from the SUV stigma and into a classy, athletic and enjoyable family five-seater. It is expensive and the option list will make your eyes water, but it has a lot of allure and the service program will take some pain out of your back pocket.
While the petrol model is thirsty and the range is poor, the wide variety of engines and variants on offer will cater toward buyers of any taste – whether it be a frugal family hauler, or throttle-depressing speed junkie.
Porsche Macan 3.0 S from $92,800:Crisply-styled baby sister of the Cayenne is a winner at the curb as much as on the open road. The S model gets a bi-turbo 3.0-litre V6 rated at 250kW/460Nm and drives through a seven-speed automatic. Porsche claims 8.7 L/100km and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.4 seconds, but the Macan is smaller than the F-Pace and has a boot area of 500-1500 litres.
Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe 250 from $80,100:A bit smaller and cheaper than the F-Pace but it is similarly stylish and carries a big badge. It has a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine rated at 155kW/350Nm – though an optional V6 is coming – with a nine-speed auto.
Mercedes claims 7.4 L/100km and boot space is 491-1400 litres.
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