First drive review: Jaguar F-Pace 2016

If the Porsche Macan and Audi Q5 thought they were going to have this area of the premium SUV segment all to themselves, the F-Pace will have given them real food for thought.

Rumours of a Jaguar SUV had been bandied about for a while before the British brand finally revealed the F-Pace. Set to take on the Audi Q5 and the Porsche Macan, the F-Pace is entering a segment that’s effectively sewn up by German rivals.

It would have been tempting, then, for the F-Pace to go the way of the XE and take on the Audi and the Porsche at their own game, but Jaguar maintains that this is a ‘proper’ Jag, despite its jacked-up suspension.

We took the F-Pace for a quick spin around Silverstone to get some idea of whether it is a true contender in the class, and whether it really is a true Jaguar.

Jaguar F-Pace 2016 Red Front Dynamic

Jaguar F-Pace

2.0d Prestige 5dr

  • Profile:
  • 9+47
  • Mileage:
  • 10k Miles p/a

£339.99

Per Month, EXC VAT

Business Users Only

Business Leasing Deal by: Fulton Network Limited

See more Jaguar F-Pace leasing deals here: business / personal

Can it compete?

At first glance, the stats are quite promising. It’s made from lightweight aluminium, and that means it’s frugal. Even a high-spec, four-wheel-drive, automatic variant manages a very reasonable 53.3mpg and emits CO2 at a rate of just 139g/km. Go for a lower-spec manual with rear-wheel drive and you can bring that to 129g/km and 57.7mpg.

That economy is provided by the 2.0-litre 178bhp diesel engine pinched straight from the XE and XF, and it’s the engine we’re testing here. If you’d rather, you can have the larger 3.0-litre diesel V6 from the XJ or the supercharged petrol V6 from an F-Type, but the majority of F-Paces will use this economical four-cylinder unit.

This is an era of downsizing, and Jaguar has somehow managed to make this 2.0-litre F-Pace perform like a car with a much larger, more powerful engine.

Now, to be honest, that’s something of a worry, because a 178bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine sounds a bit weedy for a car that’s this big. The F-Pace is a touch larger than the Macan, and none of the engines available for the Porsche produce less than 250 horsepower.

But this is an era of downsizing, and Jaguar has somehow managed to make this smaller-engined F-Pace perform like a car with a much larger, more powerful block under the bonnet.

The sprint from 0-62mph takes 8.7 seconds and the top speed is 130mph. It’s hardly blistering pace, but it’s more than adequate. Better still, the 430Nm of torque on tap makes it feel even faster than that.

Jaguar F-Pace 2016 Red Front

It’s even fun to drive, with heavy steering that gives you just enough feedback and allows you to place the car on the road with precision. Body roll is very well controlled, too, and the four-wheel-drive system offers up plenty of grip.

Given the silky smooth surface of the track, we can’t make too many meaningful conclusions about the ride, but we can report that the circuit’s washboard rumble strips were soaked up with aplomb. The seats are comfy, too, and the visibility is good, despite the fact that you sit low down in the cabin.

Without testing it back-to-back with the Macan, it’s tough to judge which of the two is better, but the F-Pace is certainly a worthy rival for the popular Porsche.

Is it a ‘proper’ Jag?

So even with this 2.0-litre engine, the F-Pace is a good car, but the question mark remains over whether it is a true Jag.

Some critics say that no SUV can ever truly call itself a ‘proper’ Jaguar, while others will lament the fact that it’s designed with function in mind, rather than form. There’s a section of the Jaguar customer base that will turn their nose up at the comparative lack of petrol-powered options, too.

If truth be told, we understand each and every one of these arguments, but we think that the F-Pace is actually as much of a Jaguar as any other model on sale today.

Sure, the SUV ‘issue’ is one that’s difficult to get past, but the F-Pace really doesn’t drive like a traditional 4x4. It’s as sporty a steer as the current XF and even though it’s practical, it’s the prettiest Jaguar for a while.

Jaguar F-Pace 2016 Interior

What’s more, if you choose the right specification, you can get a plush interior with beautiful wood veneers and soft-touch leather in abundance. Okay, it’s a modern twist on what a Jaguar should be, but isn’t that how car manufacturers are supposed to evolve?

If you hanker after smooth, petrol power, you can opt for the top-of-the-line V6 S model, but it isn’t that necessary.

We were impressed with the 2.0-litre diesel’s refinement, and though it wasn’t as effortless as we’d have liked, it’ll be more than enough for those transferring from an Audi Q5. And besides, those wanting economy and effortlessness can always have the surprisingly smooth 3.0-litre V6 diesel.

Pricing

Leasing deals are already available, and the average price of the four-wheel-drive 2.0-litre Portfolio diesel automatic on test is £504 a month for businesses and £607 for personal customers.

Even basic Prestige models still get plenty of kit, including leather seats, 18in alloys, satellite navigation, front and rear parking sensors and two-zone climate control.

Portfolio models, though, are pretty much at the pinnacle of the range, and a few choice options can push list prices perilously close to £50,000.

More modestly equipped Prestige models (from £34,170) still get plenty of kit, including leather seats, 18in alloys, satellite navigation, front and rear parking sensors and two-zone climate control, but average lease rates fall to £391 a month for businesses and £469 per month for personal customers.*

The verdict

Our time with the F-Pace was limited, but first impressions are important and we were impressed. We were pleasantly surprised by the 2.0-litre engine’s punch and refinement, and we were struck by the car’s excellent road manners.

If the Porsche Macan and Audi Q5 thought they were going to have this area of the premium SUV segment all to themselves, the F-Pace will have given them real food for thought.

Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d Portfolio AWD Auto at a glance

Length: 4,731mm
Width: 1,936mm
Height: 1,651mm
Wheelbase: 2,874mm
Boot space: 650 / 1,740 litres

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘Ingenium’ diesel (178bhp)
Transmission: 8-spd automatic, four-wheel drive

0-62mph: 8.7s
Top speed: 130mph
Fuel economy: 53.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 139g/km

*Average lease rates based on 6+35, 10k lease deals and calculated using ContractHireAndLeasing.com data.

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