First Drive: Jaguar F-Pace


Since a concept of the car was first revealed, there's been a lot of interest in the Jaguar F-Pace. Finally, it's here, and retaining much of the looks of that concept, it's the British carmakers first ever SUV. But has it pulled it off? AOL Cars heads to Montenegro to find out.

What is it?

The F-Pace marks a new era for Jaguar. For the first time, the quintessentially British brand is offering a SUV – but one that is still in keeping with the brand's sporty image. With four engines to choose from, as well as a variety of trim levels, there should be something for everyone. Utilising the very latest in building technology has helped keep the car's weight down, something that should put it in good stead against rivals.

What's under the bonnet?

While a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine sits at the top of the list, the most popular will undoubtedly by the 2.0-litre diesel. Offering the best in terms of economy and emissions, it will go down well with private and business users alike.

Despite being the least powerful engine on offer, it still has enough power to keep most drivers happy. Producing 177bhp and 430Nm torque, it has the right amount of grunt to get the F-Pace up to speed in reasonable time. With 60mph achieved in 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 129mph, it's certainly quick enough.

With that power comes very few drawbacks. The F-Pace will still achieve a combined economy figure of 53.3mpg and emit just 139g/km CO2. This is in all-wheel-drive setup, mind – those looking for the best possible fuel efficiency should look towards the two-wheel-drive model, which represents a 10mpg saving over the four-wheel-drive car.

What's the spec like?

There's five specifications of F-Pace to choose from – Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport, S and First Edition. Thankfully, there's a huge amount of standard equipment, even on the base models.

Our test car came fitted with R-Sport extras, which means it gets an 8-inch InControl navigation system. This has been completely re-worked, so that now it pinches and scrolls like a touch screen system should. It's a marked improvement over the one found in the XF and XE saloons.

Leather seats come with the R-Sport pack too, alongside dual climate control, a leather multifunction steering wheel and sport pedals. Also included is Jaguar's SmartKey – a rubber wristband which has a wireless key integrated into it. It works extremely well, and thanks to being both waterproof and dustproof, is ideal for those on the go. Simply wave you wrist wearing the band over the 'J' in Jaguar at the rear of the car, and the vehicle will unlock. Simple.

Outside, the R-Sport features 19-inch alloy wheels, as well as beefier front and rear bumpers. The car's front end is also spruced up with Xenon headlamps, which incorporate signature daytime running lights. Not only do they look good, but they put out an impressive amount of light.

The F-Pace impresses not only on equipment levels, but also practicality. A boot capacity of 650 litres is one of the best in class, while a full body length of 4731 metres means there's plenty enough room for five adults and their luggage. As a family car, it's hard to beat.

Any rivals?

There's just a few. Up front is the Porsche Macan, which offers a impressively dynamic driving experience tied up in a premium package. That car was released during the F-Pace's production, and prompted bosses at Jag to make a few changes to their car to make it competitive. As well as the Macan, there's the Audi Q3 and BMW X3 which are both well established names now.

What's it like to drive?

Very, very good. Jaguar said from the outset that it wanted the F-Pace to tread a line between a comfortable and sporting drive. Thankfully, it appears to have got the compromise spot on.

While the 3.0-litre petrol may make the wildest noise (and it really does), even the 2.0-litre diesel is enough to give a spirited driving experience. Around town, the larger 21-inch wheel available on some models does feel a touch too big, giving the F-Pace a slightly jittery feel. The smaller 20 or 19-inch alloys are a much better choice, as they give the F-Pace a more relaxing driving feel. That's not to say that when speed is added to the mix it becomes wobbly and uncouth.

First Drive: Jaguar F-Pace

First Drive: Jaguar F-Pace

With excellent steering, the F-Pace is an easy car to find a rhythm with. Each and every corner is dealt with smartly and with minimal fuss, pushing only into understeer when the driver's being particularly ham-fisted. Despite its large size, the F-Pace does well to manage its bulk with very little body roll seen through the bends. The excellent 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox makes short work of changing gears, though a six-speed manual is also available on the 2.0-litre models.

The driving position is also very good, with the smallest exception of the throttle pedal feeling slightly too high. Apart from that, the F-Pace manages well to give a commanding view of the road ahead that has proven popular with many SUV drivers, while maintaining the impression that you're sat in the car and not on top of it. In short, it still feels sport.

The F-Pace is equally impressive off-road. Of course, the vast majority of F-Paces will never see the rough stuff, but the technology incorporated in each car means that should the car venture off-road, it can certainly manage it.

AOL Cars Verdict

There was a lot riding on this car. A step into the unknown for Jaguar, it could quite easily have turned out to be an ugly duckling – but it's come out far better than that. Offering an involving drive, as well as enough room for a family to sit in comfortably, it truly is a swiss army knife of a car. On top of this, there's a huge variety of specifications and engines to choose from, which means that there should be something for everyone. Essentially, the F-Pace will fly out of showrooms – and it has every reason to.

Model: Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport
Price: (As Tested) £40,175
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel
Power: 177bhp
Torque: 430Nm
0-60mph: 8.2seconds
Top Speed: 129mph
Economy (Combined): 53.3mpg
Emissions: 139g/km CO2