Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport review
Jaguar treats the excellent F-Pace to some sporty additions in mid-spec R-Sport guise
The mid-range R-Sport version of the Jaguar F-Pace highlights the SUV's sporty character and offers an appealing balance of specification and price.
The Jaguar F-Pace has been an instant success story for the British company, and in R-Sport trim it arguably offers the best elements of what Jaguar has to offer. As the name suggests, R-Sport is the sportiest trim version for the standard F-Pace on sale, and is similar in style to the sporty X3 M Sport, Q5 S line, XC60 R-Design and GLC AMG Line variants offered by BMW, Audi, Volvo and Mercedes. However, while these rivals offer their sportiest spec at the top of the range, R-Sport is in the middle of the F-Pace line-up between Prestige and Portfolio trims.
What separates R-Sport from the rest of the F-Pace range is subtle, so you'd have to be a die-hard fan to spot the differences beyond the R-Sport badge on the tail. But there are 19-inch alloy wheels as standard (although Jag offers a variety of wheel designs in 18, 19, 20 and 22-inch sizes), an R-Sport bodykit with redesigned bumpers and black window surrounds, black roof rails and xenon lights with J-shaped LED daytime running lights. Inside, the R-Sport gains leather sports seats, an R-Sport-branded steering wheel, aluminium trim and auto models get satin chrome gearshift paddles.
R-Sport is available with all the 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol and diesel engines in the F-Pace range. That means the 250PS and 300PS petrols with 246 and 296bhp respectively, which both come with Jaguar's great eight-speed auto and AWD as standard. The three diesels are badged 163PS, 180PS and 240PS and come with 161, 177 and 237bhp respectively.
The 163PS model is rear-drive with a six-speed manual as standard to boost its appeal with company car drivers looking for low emissions to cut their tax costs. In contrast, the 180PS is either rear-drive with an auto, AWD with a manual, or 4WD auto, which is the same as the 240PS model.
Prices for the F-Pace R-Sport start at just over £37,000 for the smallest diesel, but all the petrol models and the two AWD diesel autos break the £40,000 barrier, meaning annual road tax is £450 for the first five years of ownership.
Despite its size, aluminium construction means the F-Pace R-Sport is lighter than its main rivals, weighing in at 1,775kg. This also means the engines serves up a decent hit of performance, with 0-62mph taking 8.2 seconds in the 180PS diesel. But there’s plenty of refinement too, especially if you go for the the snappy but smooth eight-speed automatic.
While a rear-drive-only car is available, the grippier AWD model has tech on board that means in normal conditions it still behaves like a rear-wheel drive car, boosting efficiency but also giving the F-Pace a typically Jaguar feeling from behind the wheel.
Jaguar has tuned the F-Pace’s chassis so it offers similar qualities to its XE and XF saloons, except with the longer travel suspension and raised ride height the F-Pace rides even better. The chassis flows with the road, and on broken, uneven surfaces there’s plenty of composure and poise.
It means you can drive the car hard and the chassis lives up to expectations, with plenty of traction in tight turns thanks to the four-wheel drive system effectively shuffling power around from front to rear and vice versa.
Double wishbone front suspension – a rarity on an SUV – and fast, direct steering also give the F-Pace impressive agility for a 4x4. On the motorway the Jag is hushed and relaxing to drive, controlling body movement well over gentle undulations and filtering out nasty bumps despite riding on optional 20-inch alloys.
But it’s not all perfect. Just like the XE there are some issues when it comes to material quality. Some of the plastics on the doors and lower down underneath the dashboard, would look more at home in a supermini for instance.
The cabin wraps around you to give a cocooning, sportier feel, combining this with the security you get from the elevated driving position. But awkward features like the strangely placed window switches and outer air vents just take the shine of what’s otherwise an interesting cabin filled full of tech.
A 650-litre boot and a standard power tailgate mean the F-Pace also cuts it when it comes to practicality. It offers more than enough legroom for tall adults, while despite the sporty coupe-like roofline, the low bench seat in the rear gives good headroom. Plus its 40:20:40 split adds an extra element of versatility over some competitors, too.
But the real draw here is how the F-Pace drives, combining this with ride quality and refinement that’d shame more luxurious cars from the class above.