Rumours of Jaguar building an SUV started in the 90s but it’s taken until now for one to arrive.
The F-Pace is designed to offer the space and practicality SUV buyers demand, while still looking – and crucially, also driving – like a real Jaguar should.
Under the svelte skin, the F-Pace is based on the same aluminium architecture as the XF, while the four-wheel-drive system is derived from that used on the F-Type. It also gets some off-road technology, as well as some neat tricks of its own.
Finished in the striking Caesium Blue of the special First Edition model and riding on the vast 22-inch alloy wheels, the F-Pace is a superb looking machine in the flesh. It’s a coherent design too, not just a Jaguar grille applied to a tall car, with obvious nods to the brand’s other models and a sense of style and speed. The lower-specification versions still look good too, although it’s likely that the 22-inch wheels will become something of an essential choice.
There’s no escaping the fact that buyers move into SUVs from other models because they want the space, whether they use it or not, and Jaguar has clearly done its homework. It’s a mid-sized machine but inside it feels big, front and rear. From the driver’s seat you get the better view out but still with a saloon-like driving position and plenty of leg and elbow room.
There’s excellent legroom in the back too and sufficient width for three adults, though headroom is only fine up to average heights with the optional sunroof. The boot is huge at 650 litres with the seats in place and is long and tall as well as wide, with no irritating intrusions. There’s plenty of useful storage in the cabin too.
The model tested here is the 2.0D all-wheel-drive R Sport at £40,360.
The entry-model in the F-Pace range is the two-wheel-drive Prestige 2.0-litre diesel manual costing £34,170, which comes with cruise control, torque vectoring, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, 18-inch alloy wheels and the InControl Touch infotainment system with DAB and satellite navigation, which for many buyers will be all the kit they’ll ever need.
The 375bhp 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol is likely to be the least-popular option but it’s definitely the most fun.
It rasps and crackles when extended and makes the F-Pace a real sporting car. During a long drive on some challenging country roads, it made fantastic progress, being quick, controlled and composed.
The 2.0-litre diesel with 178bhp will be the bestseller in the UK and, while it can’t compete with the V6 petrol on performance, it has a strong set of figures: 318lb.ft of torque, 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, 53.3mpg combined and 139g/km of CO2. The eight-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly to make the most of the engine torque and noise levels are kept in check.
Even though it will almost never be used this way, the F-Pace still has genuine off-road ability too. All Surface Progress Control allows the driver to set a desired speed below 19mph and the F-Pace will trickle along, managing the brakes and accelerator up or down hill as you steer. The F-Pace is a car with exceptionally broad appeal. It has the SUV presence and heft that buyers are keen on but it’s better to look at than any of its rivals.
It’s also great fun to drive as well as relaxing, which will make it more appealing to buyers who need to trade up for more space. And those who do need the space should find the F-Pace has as much as they need, with the reassurance of off-road security. This could be the car that blows the competition out of the water.
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Top speed: 129mph
CO2 emissions: 139g/km