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Car reviews - Jaguar - F-Pace - S 30d First Edition

Our Opinion

We like
Engine outputs, sharp handling, good boot size, exterior styling
Room for improvement
Fuel tank size, ride quality, pricing, options pricing and clarity

Gallery

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Jaguar logo20 Dec 2017

By STUART MARTIN

Overview

NOT content with sharing with its Land Rover sister brand, Jaguar has built its own SUV, the striking F-Pace, with more regard for on-road antics than off-road prowess.

That’s not to say it can't get its claws grotty, within the restrictions of sealed-surface tyres and clearance, but this particularly big cat still has its eyes firmly focused on the bitumen.

A cabin with room for four adults and plenty of cargo space, the F-Pace in First Edition form is a striking machine, with an even more impactful powerplant – the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel gives the chassis the pace it craves.

While the handling emphasis has – even with the adaptively-damped suspension – taken some of the comfort out of the ride quality, but many may take one look and not care.

Price and equipment

What price do you put on the badge – be it British or German – is the question anyone looking to buy an F-Pace needs to ask.

The Jaguar breed has undeniable charisma and the handsome wagon, which starts from $101,795 in S 3.0 diesel guise, is right in the ballpark with the proven performer from BMW – the X5 with all-wheel drive starts at $108,000 for the 30d or $119,900 for the 40d.

The Jag sits between it and the X3 – which in 30d AWD guise is an $83,900 proposition – for size, as well as being between the Audi Q5 ($73,211 for the TDI Sport) and $106,900 200kW Q7, although the latter is the least lithe and nimble of that group.

Tested here in First Edition S guise (priced from $117,165, plus on-road costs) the features list on the big Brit is extensive. It features soft sports-leather trim, power-adjustable front seats, suede headlining, a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel, adjustable interior ambient lighting and a powered tailgate.

Auto-dimming mirrors inside and out (with heating and power-folding on the exterior mirrors), USB and 12-volt sockets front and rear, a touchscreen-controlled Bluetooth-equipped Meridian sound system, 22-inch wheels and a sliding panoramic roof are also among the features.

The First Edition was also equipped with adaptive dynamic suspension and LED headlights, with a few options boxes ticked.

The test vehicle was fitted with the advanced parking system with 360-degree camera overhead view for $3450, as well as a head-up display that’s paired with the infrared reflective windscreen for $2510.

Not that much of Australia would warrant the inclusion of the Jaguar ‘Cold Climate Pack’ but there will be no shortage of ski folk who would consider the F-Pace, so a heated front windscreen, heated front and rear seats and heated steering wheel for an additional $2420 would be money well spent.

Also added to the features list was the Smart Key keyless entry and ignition system for $1800, quad zone climate control for the same asking price, blind spot and reverse traffic warning for $1220.

Some of the options should perhaps be standard when looking at a six-figure pricetag – the air quality sensor and lockable cooled glovebox adds $1000, privacy glass and digital radio both add $900 each, power adjustment for the steering is an extra $850 and the activity key is $640.

All of which pushed the price of the First Edition up by $17,390 to an as-tested price of $134,555.

Interior

Perhaps even more appealing than the exterior design is the cabin, which is laden with leather and plastic materials soft to the touch.

Our test vehicle’s light-coloured interior is easy on the eye but fears abound for the limited amount of time a light colour would last if children were regular passengers.

The dashboard is dominated by the new wider touchscreen that stretches the full width of the centre stack, with all the infotainment controls and the vehicle system functions held within and leaving the climate control, demister and volume controls below it.

Jag’s system works well enough most of the time, with only the odd example of ignoring an instruction or a delay in getting underway with a track.

The driver is well accommodated and has power seat and steering adjustment to find a good driving position, while the passenger gets similar levels of comfort, with the integrated grab handle on the transmission tunnel in lieu of the steering wheel.

The driver’s view forward is good but through the rear tailgate the view is restricted by a narrow rear window.

Jag’s centre console is on the small side but it has two USBs and a 12-volt outlet, with two 12-volt outlets in the back for power-hungry devices in the hands of the juvenile rear passengers.

The instrument panel is a pleasure to view and can be tailored to include digital speed readouts and mapping between dials that can be made small or large.

The addition of a head-up display further adds to the level of information, although polarised lenses still cause some disturbance in the view.

Rear passengers aren’t given acres of space but two average-sized adults won’t have any issues sitting behind similarly sized front occupants, however three across the 40/20/40 split back seat will be snug and the middle passenger will have drawn the short straw as the rear bench is cut more like two buckets.

There’s no shortage of ventilation with airflow from the centre console and the B-pillars, as well as the (optional) dual zones in the rear.

The occupants will have no qualms about packing plenty for a weekend away as the boot – accessed by a hands-free powered tailgate – is a decent size, claiming 508 litres when there’s a spare tyre beneath the floor, or 650 litres if the puncture repair kit is selected total load space with the rear seat folded is a maximum of 1740 litres.

Engine and transmission

Time spent earlier in the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel had us yearning for a little bit more grunt – with sharper response to the right foot – and the V6 turbo-diesel more than answers that call.

The alloy V6 double-overhead cam 24-valve twin-turbo diesel proffers up 221kW at 4000rpm and a useful chunk of torque – 700Nm – between 1500 and 17500rpm, using twin-parallel sequential turbocharging to good effect.

Channeled through an eight-speed automatic to all four wheels, the V6 has to haul 1884kg of kerb weight – lower than it could have been thanks to extensive use of aluminium in the body, some of the panels and the chassis.

From behind the wheel it feels prodigious in its outputs, ferociously firing from the line when the right foot puts the pedal to the firewall. Engine revolutions are not something the V6 is afraid of but it can waft quickly through the gears on the torque peak, even starting off in 2nd gear from standstill unless demands from the driver dictate a more intense effort.

The SUV has both its 0-100-sprint time and combined-cycle fuel economy claims in the same numerical range, with its fuel use claim of 6.0 litres per 100km and a sprint to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds.

Unfortunately (even with an eight-speed auto that offers good cruising engine speeds) it is draining a 66-litre tank that is simply too small given the real fuel economy number is closer to double digits, particularly if you’re exploiting the capable chassis on a regular basis.

The Jag’s diesel claims 159 g/km of CO2 and also uses AdBlue within the exhaust system to break down NOx emissions into water vapour and nitrogen gas.

Ride and handling

Some ye olde Jags had a knack of carving through a corner and still being able to deliver a ride quality arrogantly indifferent to the road surface.

The F-Pace is not quite in that realm for ride but it arrogantly defies its near 1700mm height and 213mm of ground clearance when it comes to getting through the bends.

Before the fun begins there are mundane metropolitan duties to consider and the big cat can get the school run done without concern – the big boot can take all manner of baggage and it’s only a little bit of fore-aft pitching on big bumps and undulations that bothers anyone.

Ride comfort from the adaptively damped double-wishbone front and integral link rear suspension is firm to the extent of being noticeable – in part the First Edition’s 22-inch wheels and low-profile 265/40 rubber can shoulder some of the responsibility there, as most of the other road imperfections are dispatched without issue.

Dialing in all the electronics to Dynamic modes – once the other seats have been vacated – and the driver is behind the wheel of a remarkably rapid point-to-point vehicle.

The transmission, steering and suspension team up to get the big SUV through corners with minimal bodyroll or understeer, feeling even lighter than its reasonable 1884kg kerb weight, which is distributed 50/50.

Turn-in is further aided by the torque vectoring function within the braking system, getting the nose turning in with aplomb – the full Dynamic mode is perhaps not suited to the prevailing Australian road conditions, with the normal setup more than adequate for press-ahead motoring on a favoured back road.

The steering is accurate and well-weighted, but doesn’t feel as though Jaguar has it quite as right as some of its competition, it is a remarkably swift machine in the bends, punching out of corners on a strong surge of engine output.

Unsealed roads don’t deter the fit feline either, delivering good grip despite the road-centric rubber wrapped around the 22-inch wheels respect for the bits beneath the bumpers meant anything remotely challenging off road would simply be a boon for the spare parts department.

But muddy forest roads, hard-packed beaches and snowfields would be well within the Jag’s skillset, enhanced by what Jaguar calls All Surface Progress Control low-traction low-speed (3.6-30km/h) cruise control and Adaptive Surface Response that Jaguar Land Rover has developed to monitor the driving environment and adjust the engine and brakes.

Safety and servicing

A five-star ANCAP car, the F-Pace has the full suite of stability and traction control to back the all-wheel-drive system, including hill start and trailer stability control and the off-road traction aids.

Auto-dimming rearview mirrors inside and out, tyre pressure monitoring, rain sensing wipers with automatic LED headlights, with ‘J-blade’ LED daytime running lights and LED tail-lights are all standard.

As are dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, as well as emergency brake assistance for the driver, autonomous emergency braking if the driver has failed to notice a potential impact, as well as lane departure warning and parking sensors front and rear.

The option packs added to the test vehicle include the Advanced Parking Pack with Surround Camera System (upgrading the single standard reversing camera) and 360 degree Park Distance Control for $3450.

The head-up display (paired with the infrared reflective windscreen) adds $2510 and a package containing blind spot monitoring and reverse traffic detection is also optional, asking $1120 for the option pack.

Jaguar’s factory warranty is far from startling in its marketplace leadership, sitting at three years and 100,000 km with roadside assistance, although a service interval of 24 months or 25,000 km is certainly among the best in its competitive set.

The brand offers a service plan to cover up to five years or 130,000 km – including scheduled servicing, inclusive of labour and the genuine Jaguar parts warranted for 12 months – for $2200.

Verdict

Rakish and roguish good looks make the Jag a head-turner and the cabin ambience does little to change that impression once inside.

The turbo-diesel engine works well and can – if temptation is resisted – deliver decent fuel economy numbers around town, as well as amusing levels of performance when the driver gives in to the aforementioned full-throttle urges.

A little more compliance on the ride front when the sports modes are not in play would be welcome, but the F-Pace does plenty to put it on a prestige SUV shopping list among the Germans.

Rivals

BMW X5 30d xDrive, from $108,000 plus on-road costs
It might not be at the top of the X5 tree but in many ways it is the pick of the litter, powered by the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel producing 190kW and 560Nm. It’s all sent to the clever all-wheel-drive system by an eight-speed auto and it’s one that claims 6.0s for its fuel consumption and 0-100km/h time.

Audi Q7 3.0 TDI 200kW, from $106,900 plus on-road costs
The big German is sporting sharper looks than its predecessor and is a little better suited to getting off the bitumen. It too claims 6.0s for fuel economy and the sprint to 100km/h, with the 200kW/600Nm V6 turbo-diesel engine also using an eight-speed auto.

Porsche Macan 3.0 S Diesel, from $95,300 plus on-road costs
Granted the options list is going to get a nudge to match the Jag’s features list (and increase the price) and the big Brit has cabin and cargo space on its side. But the little Porsche SUV remains an impressive example of a good ride and handling compromise and un-fussed, not to mention considerable, performance.

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