Jaguar F-Pace review - Engines, performance and drive
Few SUVs are as fun or capable as the Jaguar F-Pace, and it's nearly as sweet to drive as the Porsche Macan
Jaguar could have turned to sister brand Land Rover for help with its first SUV, but instead it’s developed its own platform for the F-Pace. The F-Pace is based on Jaguar’s iQ-AL platform that also partly underpins the XE and XF saloons. This helps the F-Pace feel as sporty to drive as it looks. That’s because it shares the saloon’s suspension set-up, which uses double wishbones at the front and a multi-link rear axle that’s set-up to deliver engaging handling.
Where the Jaguar has a real edge over its rivals is the way it drives. With lots of grip and good body control, the F-Pace is fun to drive; it’s hard to believe a high-riding SUV can handle as well as this. It remains composed even on bumpy roads, and comfort doesn’t take too much of a hit to deliver those fun dynamics. Only when pushed to the limit does the F-Pace become ragged.
There’s very little road and wind noise, plus the ride is nearly as supple and well controlled as the GLC with its air suspension. Bigger undulations can upset the SUV’s balance, but you’ll never notice jolts in the cabin – even on the larger alloy wheels.
The 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel will suit the needs of most buyers, but the more potent 296bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine really gives the F-Pace some added aggression. A whopping 700Nm of torque fires you down the road with real ferocity, although the six-cylinder engine does sound a little coarse when extended. Jaguar added the 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol in 2017, but even though it's more powerful than the diesels, it's not as punchy and feels strained when you rev it out.
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The F-Pace is surprisingly capable off-road, too. While Jag is leaving the proper tough stuff to sister company Land Rover, the F-Pace is admirably efficient when faced with muddy ruts or a grassy field. The four-wheel-drive system does sometimes scrabble for grip, but that's more down to the road-biased tyres, and on the whole it gives you confidence to push the car some way off the beaten track.
In normal driving, the 4WD system features a clever system that sends more power to the rear wheels to give a purer feel, but switches extra drive to the front wheels when it senses a more even split of traction is required.
Jaguar also offers the optional Adaptive Dynamics Pack, which costs around £1,200 and adds adaptive dampers. These are continuously adjustable and constantly alter to the road conditions, unlike most rivals which have pre-set modes. It’s a pricey package, but is worth choosing because there’s a better mix of comfort and agility.
Jaguar F-Pace buyers get a broad choice of engines. The Ingenium-powered 2.0-litre diesel will make up the bulk of sales in 178bhp form, while those after something a bit fruitier should look to the V6 diesel or 5.0-litre supercharged V8 SVR, if their pockets are deep enough. In 2017, Jag added a 247bhp 2.0-litre petrol, as well as an uprated 237bhp four-cylinder diesel. There's also the 2.0-litre 300PS model to consider.
Due to the F-Pace's lightweight aluminium structure, the 180PS Ingenium diesel doesn’t feel overwhelmed, even though the F-Pace is longer and wider than its rivals. But when we tested an F-Pace against an Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC, the Jag completed the sprint from 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds, which was 1.2 seconds slower than the Audi. It closed the gap during our in-gear assessments, thanks in no small part to its healthy 430Nm of torque and the well chosen ratios of its smooth and responsive eight-speed auto gearbox.
Away from the track, it was the Jag and Mercedes that felt the most lively; both delivered brisk, reassuring overtaking pace. The F-Pace’s 2.0-litre diesel responds crisply to the throttle and provides a throaty note when extended, although it’s noisier and suffers from more vibrations at idle than the Audi. The box serves up well timed automatic changes and doesn’t shift down as often on the motorway as the Q5's gearbox.
If performance is a priority, the excellent 3.0-litre V6 diesel adds some punch to proceedings, feeling infinitely more flexible and genuinely fast in a straight line. What the engine gets right is its balance of abilities. The engine is mighty while overtaking, as our in-gear figures showed when we tested it. It helped the F-Pace take just 2.7 seconds to go from 30-50mph in fourth gear, so it has enough real-world pace to challenge some sports cars. The F-Pace has a hefty 700Nm of torque.
In our 0-60mph acceleration tests it took 6.6 seconds, yet it’s the muscular and refined way the Jaguar delivers its performance that impresses. The 3.0-litre motor isn’t quite as hushed as some rivals, but it delivers a satisfyingly sporty growl. It’s also paired with an eight-speed transmission that serves smooth shifts in auto mode and crisp manual changes using the wheel-mounted paddles – even if these do feel a little plasticky to use.
In this review
- 1Jaguar F-Pace reviewWe named the Jaguar F-Pace our 2016 Car of the Year, and it's still a front runner in the upmarket SUV class
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingFew SUVs are as fun or capable as the Jaguar F-Pace, and it's nearly as sweet to drive as the Porsche Macan
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsGo for the diesel model and the Jaguar F-Pace will return decent fuel economy
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe F-Pace takes all that is good from the XF and XJ and translates it into a high-quality bulked-up SUV offering
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe F-Pace rivals cars like the Porsche Macan and BMW X3, but trumps them both for boot space and back-seat practicality
- 6Reliability and SafetyJaguar scores well for safety, but customer feedback highlights reliability issues