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Compact SUV of the Year 2016: Jaguar F-Pace

The Jaguar F-Pace is the 2016 Auto Express Compact SUV of the Year, with the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Mercedes GLC commended

We’ve waited a while for Jaguar’s first-ever SUV, but it’s been worth it. The F-Pace is a stunning 4x4 that combines jaw-dropping looks with comfort, usability and effortless performance. But that’s not all the F-Pace has to offer.

It’s great value, too. Unlike the Porsche Macan, it’s available with a 2.0-litre diesel from £35,000, opening up ownership to a new group of buyers, while the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol S model is more than £10,000 cheaper than the Macan Turbo. Whichever powertrain you choose, refinement is a given, plus Jag’s eight-speed auto is smooth and contributes towards the unruffled driving experience.

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Even on big 22-inch wheels, the SUV rides with composure and balance thanks to continuously adaptive dampers that monitor wheel movement 500 times a second. Select Dynamic mode and the F-Pace’s chassis becomes more direct, with the light, fast steering helping jink the car through quick direction changes. You can feel the DNA of the XF and XE saloons running through the F-Pace, except the skeleton is bigger, offering a commanding driving position and a feeling of security.

Jaguar F-Pace 3.0d V6 S - front

Inside, the Jag cocoons you in leather-lined comfort, with its InControl Touch Pro system and digital dials adding a hi-tech feel to the rich driving experience.

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Of course a compact SUV has to be usable, too, and with best figures of 57.7mpg and 129g/km of CO2, and a 650-litre boot (the same size as the BMW X5 from the class above), the F-Pace delivers on this front. Blending the flexibility of a 4x4 and sports car-like performance, it’s an unbeatable package.

Our choice

F-Pace 2.0d R Sport auto AWD (£41,210)

R Sport trim brings the looks and the 2.0d auto powertrain ensures strong acceleration and great refinement, plus decent value for money. Four-wheel- drive traction gives security in poor conditions, while the F-Pace’s inherent chassis balance and agility – plus the luxurious cabin – complete a winning formula.

Commended 

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport - front cornering

The Discovery Sport is almost as accomplished on the road as the F-Pace, but lacks the refinement of the Jag. It also doesn’t ride quite as well, yet makes up for it with rugged looks and off-road ability to back them up. With a bigger boot and a 5+2 seating layout, it’s the one to go for if space is a priority. 

Mercedes GLC

Mercedes GLC vs BMW X3 vs Audi Q5 - Merc front quarter

Mercedes has been producing off-roaders for years, but until the GLC arrived it didn’t have an offering in the compact SUV class. However, this car fills its brief well, with more space than its main rivals and a refined design. A lack of smoother V6 diesels limits the car’s appeal against the very best in the class, however.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2016 

For complete, in-depth coverage of the New Car Awards 2016, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...  

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