Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport AWD review: Contemporary, classy but rather underwhelming
The first thing you notice about the Jaguar F-Pace when you meet one “in the metal” is that it isn’t that big, as you might expect a Jaguar to be. It is in fact a very compact sort of compact SUV, a sibling to the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Range Rover Evoque, but with fewer seats than the former and sportier suspension than the latter; sitting in-between them in terms of size. Anyway, this segment is where most of the action is in the new car market, with Porsche’s Macan representing the closest competitor to the Jaguar at the sporty/premium end of things.
Maybe no surprise, then, that from most angles the F-Pace has distinctly Porsche-like looks, as if it is the unacknowledged bastard brother of the Macan. Clearly this is something jaguar are not bothered about, and, in truth, the marque has often prospered by following prevailing trends and fashions. It has prospered less in recent decades when it “stuck to its knitting” and turned out styling that was traditional and not fresh enough for its potential customers. The “face” of the F-Pace is more emphatically Jaguar, in its modern idiom, and has a clear resemblance to the XE and XF saloons, with which its shares a good deal of its engineering, or “architecture” in Jaguar-speak. It isn’t a traditional Jag at all; Jaguar’s team have changed an awful lot about the image of the badge, and mostly to the good. The world is ready for a four-wheel drive four-cylinder diesel Jaguar SUV, then. Times have changed.
Price: £40,360 (£44,770 as tested)
Engine capacity: 2 litre diesel
Power output (PS): 180
Top speed (mph): 129
0-62 mph (seconds): 8.2
Fuel economy (mpg): 53.3
CO2 emissions (g/km): 139
Transmission: 8-speed automatic; All-wheel drive
It is an extremely advanced car too, making best use of material such as aluminium and magnesium to make sure the car’s centre of gravity is as low as possible, and the overall weight distribution as optimal as possible for sportier performance and, one hopes, for durability too. Jaguar has been pioneering aluminium, with mixed results, for a few years now, though it was not always apparent because of the make’s formerly conservative-looking models. Now, as we have seen with the rest of the range, all that is changing, and for the better. One reason why Jaguar has much smaller volumes of output than rivals such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz is simply that it has been absent from large chunks of the market, unlike its peers who have colonised every niche with near-manic enthusiasm. A larger version of the F-Pace must only be a matter of time, and with it, yet more conquered sales and an enhanced market share.
The cabin is attractive and classy in a contemporary sort of way
All that said, I did find driving the two-litre diesel version just a bit underwhelming. This is a brand new design of power plant, and it is extremely impressive – as smooth and powerful as a diesel can be, coupled to a responsive auto gearbox. It endows the F-Pace with fine pace, if you’ll excuse the semi-pun, and outright speed, but I didn’t find it as much fun to hustle as the storied name of Jaguar might entitle one to expect. If you’re going to make a home in one of these you need to make sure your expectations are realistic. Like being in the EU, I suppose.
The cabin is attractive and classy in a contemporary sort of way, and it retains the big dial automatic gear selector and the throbbing red starter button found on other Jaguars. My example was some sort of all-black experiment, where the only bits of the car that weren’t black were the lights and the bit of red in the retro-style Jaguar badge. Even the windows were blacked out and the vehicle was fitted with stylish 20-inch black alloy wheels (mega-bling 22-inch alloys also available, by the way). Black doesn’t bring out the best in the Jaguar’s styling, however, and makes it look a bit too Porsche-like. It looks much better in “Italian Racing Red” and I’d prefer the 3-litre V6 petrol engine, to make things more traditionally Jaguar-ish, but you cannot specify proper walnut veneer for the dash. Those days are gone.
Black doesn’t bring out the best in the Jaguar’s styling