Jaguar F-Pace

    I missed out last year out on the chance to join my fellow motor-noters in Montenegro for the launch of Jaguar’s all-new F-pace, my invitation seemingly “lost in the post”. Since then too, the chance to drive the F-Pace has eluded me. The coastal roads and forests near the Adriatic would’ve no-doubt proved to be the perfect playground in which to sample the all-wheel drive capabilities of what is the legendary Coventry manufacturer’s first ever SUV.

   Not to worry. Sometimes a few hours of driving after an early morning flight aren’t quite enough in which fully to form an opinion of such an important vehicle; the F-Pace is already proving to be the fastest selling Jaguar of all-time. Patience proved itself once again to be a virtue: Jaguar recently lent me an F-Pace R-sport for week. The frost damaged tarmac of The Welsh Marches would be my testing ground.

    The F-Pace is certainly striking-looking. And despite it being a radical departure from Brown’s Lane more saloon-shaped offerings, instantly recognisable as one of the more modern Ian Callum designed Jags. It gets the mesh grille – albeit much larger in this guise – the vents atop the front wings, the frowning headlamps, even the F-type’s coupe’s sloping roofline and slender rear lamps make an appearance. There are unmistakable hints of the XE and the XF in its looks too. Pretty it isn’t, but imposing, or perhaps muscular, sum it nicely. There’s even a hint of menace about it, especially so if it wears on all black paint-job like the one Jaguar loaned me.

    Size-wise the F-Pace sits somewhere in between sister-brand Range-Rover’s Evoque and the more practical seven-seat Discovery Sport, and it’s aluminium underpinnings and all-wheel-drive system also draw heavily on their wealth of expertise in such matters. That said the strictly 5-seat - 4 ½ if I’m being really honest - F-Pace offers an entirely different driving experience to anything Land-Rover can offer this side of their far more pricey Range-Rover Sport. The F-Pace has been designed so as to keep its centre of gravity low and thus offer a far more sporty SUV experience. Think Porsche Macan.

   Or at least that’s what Jaguar would like you to think. The Macan is probably the F-pace’s closest rival driving-experience/premium-feel/off-road potential-wise. There’s a lovely feel through it’s thick-rimmed wheel as the steering weights up during cornering, and as long as you’ve selected Sport-mode (Eco, Normal, and Rain, Mud and Snow settings are also available) the 8-speed gearbox seems eager to change-down before a corner, rather than after it like so many auto ’boxes still, annoyingly, do. Driven enthusiastically the 2.0 litre 178bhp diesel Ingenium engine can get a bit a vocal, but sat high in the F-paces driver’s seat you can survey all that comes before you and plot your course with accuracy and precision.

    If that is you can put up with the ride. The F-Pace R-Sport comes with 20” alloys as standard and whopping 22” rims are an option. On smoother surfaces that’s fine, you could easily cruise up a motorway all-day at the legal limit in the F-Pace and there’d be barely a murmur from either the tyres or motor. But, try the same on a border B-road and those fashionably sized wheels combined with the F-Pace’s taut suspension (do spec the adaptive dampers if you can afford them) serve only to lift you and your passengers free from your seats – which incidentally seem to be covered in the most slippery of “leather” known to man. You may look smooth driving an F-Pace from the outside; inside though you might not always feel it. Rear visibility is an issue too, reverse parking is not for the fainted-hearted; you’ll be glad of the sensors.

    Niggles aside the F-pace offers by far the largest boot in its class, more than enough mud-plugging capability for its no-doubt suburban bound core-clientele, and it comes with one of the most evocative badges in the business. You even get an interior, which perhaps not always feeling quite as special as you might expect from something costing nigh-on £45K after options (it borrows heavily from the cheaper XE and the touchscreen can prove somewhat sluggish), comes with Miami-Vice neon mood lighting, a pulsating starter button, and a capstan-like gear-selector that rises from the centre console and straight into the palm of your hand.

    It may not be not perfect, and it faces some very stiff and far more established competition but above all The F-Pace proves Jaguar can move in a whole new direction. For those who’ve been waiting and wanting a Jaguar SUV - something a little different from the norm - the F-pace will no-doubt prove that it was well worth the wait.



Jaguar F-Pace – R-Sport 2.0d 180PS AWD

Engine: 1,999cc DOHC inline 4 cyl 16V Turbo-diesel

Transmission: 8-speed electronic automatic transmission with Jaguar Sequential Shift

Power:  178 bhp @ 4,000rpm

Torque: 317 lbft @ 1,750rpm

0-62MPH: 8.2 Sec

Max Speed: 129 mph

CO2: 139 g/km

MPG: 53.3 combined

Price: from £40,360 (car driven £44,750)


Many thanks to Jaguar’s UK press office for the loan of their F-Pace



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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