2016 Jaguar F-Pace review
Isaac Bober’s launch-based 2016 Jaguar F-Pace review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Jaguar F-Pace is the British car maker’s toe into the waters of SUV-dom, offering oomph (in some models), space for a family and decent handling (in some models).
2016 Jaguar F-Pace
Price From $74,340+ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Safety Not tested Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel; 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel; 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol Power/Torque 132kW/430Nm; 221kW/700Nm; 250kW/450Nm; 280kW/450Nm Transmission eight-speed automatic Body 4731mm (L); 2175mm (W); 1652mm (H) Weight From 1775kg-1884kg Fuel Tank 60-66 litres Thirst 5.3-8.9L/100km
THE QUESTION OF WHETHER Jaguar would release an SUV has been asked for years, Jaguar’s design guru, Ian Callum, said at the local launch of the F-Pace. “And here is the answer,” he said pointing at the F-Pace.
And there’s no mistaking this is an attractive machine. It bears all the hallmarks of the current crop of Jaguar passenger vehicles and yet is, at the same time, entirely it’s own model. But with its sibling Land Rover also producing a slinky, good-handling SUV in the form of the Range Rover Evoque, might the new F-Pace steal buyers away?
Yes, Jaguar Land Rover Australia boss, Matthew Weisner, told Practical Motoring, but he’d much rather lose a sale from Land Rover to Jaguar than to BMW or Mercedes-Benz. The Jaguar F-Pace is also, he said, the catalyst for the brand appearing in regional Australia with many Land Rover dealerships, after going weak at the knees when they heard about the F-Pace, agreeing to create joint Land Rover and Jaguar dealerships.
There will also be a range of new dealership sites come online towards the end of this year and next year, Wiesner said. “This is the vehicle that takes Jaguar to regional Australia and a mass market”.
What is it?
That Jaguar has finally relented and built an SUV shows just how important SUVs are to vehicle manufacturers these days. Not so long ago it was fine and dandy for a premium brand not to have such a thing in their line-up and yet these days if a car company tries to go it without one, well, then they might as well close up shop.
In the same way that Porsche and many other car makers that can’t look back into their history books and see an SUV, Jaguar’s F-Pace is a clean slate vehicle. And that makes it both exciting for the brand, and people like you and me, but it also means the brand is in unchartered waters.
Sure, at least Jaguar has sibling Land Rover to talk to about SUVs, after all, that brand knows a thing or two about making something with four driven wheels and a swish leather interior. But, according to Callum, the F-Pace is all Jaguar’s own work… indeed, it shares its platform with Jaguar XE and XF and the AWD system is mostly the same as that fitted to the F-Type AWD (meaning its predominantly rear biased in general driving) rather than anything from the Land Rover catalogue.
Jaguar claims the high-riding F-Pace isn’t Jaguar’s interpretation of a Range Rover, rather it’s a high-riding SUV for people who like driving and also, presumably, for those who like to gaze wistfully out their window at the car on their driveway.
The F-Pace is available in four trim grades covering all engine variants, prices start from $74,340+ORC for Prestige 2.0L turbo-diesel and stretch to $103,135+ORC for the S V6 supercharged petrol. We sampled quite a few engine variants at the local launch and will cover them as best we can in this review.
What’s it like?
Here in Australia the F-Pace will be exclusively available as an all-wheel drive (in some markets it can be had as rear-drive only). And there are three engines available with one of them in two states of tune.
Leading the charge and the engine that, after the initial interest dies down, is likely to be the most popular is the all-new 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder turbo-diesel (that also sees service in the Jaguar XE and Land Rover Discovery Sport); it makes 132kW at 4000rpm and 430Nm of torque from 1750-2500rpm.
Then there’s our pick of the range, the 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbocharged diesel engine which makes 221kW at 4000rpm and 700Nm of torque at 2000rpm. There’s also a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine that’s available in two states of tune, either 250kW at 6500rpm and 450Nm of torque at 4500rpm or 280kW at 6500rpm and 450Nm of torque at 4500rpm. All engines run exclusively through an eight-speed automatic transmission, while fuel consumption is 5.3L/100km; 6.0L/100km; 8.9L/100km; and 8.9L/100km, respectively.
The petrol engines definitely sound the best, indeed the noise from the tailpipes under hard acceleration is every bit as delicious as the roar from the back-end of an F-Type. There’s plenty of grunt from them too and mated to the eight-speed transmission they work smoothly and easily, but the fuel consumption for me, and the idea that the F-Pace is aimed at active owners, meaning long drives, means that it’s the grunty 3.0-litre diesel that gets my vote.
But let’s start with the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine which is the much-lauded all-new engine from Jaguar. It powers plenty of Jaguar Land Rover product and is, in the right vehicle, a good strong engine but in the 1775kg F-Pace, the lightest in the range, the engine doesn’t seem quite up to task. It goes from 0-100km/h in 8.7 seconds which is about a second behind the equivalent Mercedes-Benz GLC, but acceleration times don’t always tell the whole story.
Although here they kind of do. See, while the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel F-Pace accelerates away from a standing start well enough and is more than up to around town driving we found that out on the highway when called on to overtake, all of a sudden, it felt weak and rather unwilling (but I’d like to spend a week in it across roads I know well to make a final judgement). Don’t get me wrong, this engine is more than capable of keeping up with traffic and making swift progress across country roads, it does offer, after all, 430Nm of torque from 1750rpm. But for a vehicle that’s meant to be a sports car amongst high-riding A-B transport that’s a little disappointing.
Stretch to the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel in the S model which offers a healthy 221kW and 700Nm and the F-Pace starts to live up to Jaguar’s claims for it. This engine offers the sort of effortlessness you expect from a Jaguar as well as the sort of turn-of-speed acceleration you want from something with Sport in its blood.
Thumb the starter button and the engine initially sounds a little gruff before warming up and settling into a soft growl with just a hint of diesel clatter. And then out on the road there’s a level of relaxed progress the smaller Ingenium engine can’t match. And should you need to overtake then a simple prod of the throttle will have it gently slip smoothly down through the eight-speed transmission and pile on the sort of oomph that really do mark this machine out as something special.
And with the S model’s adaptive dampers (which analyse body movements and more 500 times per second) the F-Pace transitions from relaxed highway cruiser to a corner carver that justifies Jaguar’s sporting claims. The road chosen for the launch was littered with tight corners and short straights; the sort of road you’d be wearing a face-splitting grin while driving on in a sports car… and we had the same wide-mouthed grins in the F-Pace.
The flat-cornering F-Pace with its rear-drive bias and progressive body control make for a sporting SUV that can be driven very hard and very quickly with the sort of effortlessness that you’d expect from a Jaguar. Indeed it takes a moment to get your head around the F-Pace and its grip, handling and turn of speed, but once you settle into the thing it really is a vehicle that can be driven for enjoyment and that’s a rare thing to be able to say in this world of every-other-car’s-an-SUV.
Away from the adaptive dampers and on 19-inch alloys I thought the ride in the entry-level 2.0-litre turbo-diesel F-Pace was a little noisy across broken surfaces and a little underdamped. Something that becomes more noticeable as speed increases and the road surface deteriorates – on rebound the suspension seems to take a moment or two to gather up the body giving it a slightly floaty feel in some instances. Although when cornering the car felt every bit as agile as its bigger engined brother, turning in hard, gripping well and generally offering some fun… but the engine doesn’t have the firepower to do the rest justice. Shame.
The steering is an electric-assist system that manages to offer the right amount of weight off centre and speed in its action, but it lacks for feedback. And directly on-centre it feels a little dead, so much so that I found myself making minuscule but constant corrections when cruising along straight roads, at least in the 2.0-litre F-Pace.
Inside and the F-Pace carries a similar design to that of the XE and XF with a very driver-oriented feel. All of the controls are neatly laid out and simple to use. The infotainment units, there are two on offer, are easy to use, although without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity aren’t as practical as some systems on the market.
But my main niggle with the dashboard is the quality of the materials used. On the whole there’s enough soft-touch plastics and nice surfacing to justify the pricing, until your hand falls on a piece of hard scratchy plastic, something which shouldn’t be present in a car costing as much as the F-Pace does, be it at entry or top-end. And we even found a bit of trim covering the A-pillar that felt a little wobbly; hopefully not a sign of things to come for owners…
Unlike some SUVs where you tend to sit like you’re in a people mover or commercial vehicle, the F-Pace, despite a high-ish hip point feels more sedan-like in the driving position. Meaning you sit with both your arms and legs out straight in front of you. It all lends more credence to Jaguar’s claims for this machine.
There are some decent storage bins stashed around the cabin although the door bin failed to keep a 500ml water bottle in place. The first time we hit the brakes it fell into the bin and started sliding forwards and backwards. Annoying. I did like the little upright cubbies to the side of the centre console that are purposely designed to hold your smartphone.
Climb over into the back and the seats are comfortable but not overly so, indeed the same goes for the front seats which could do with more grip. You’ll fit three across the back but it’ll be a bit tight, two adults or two children in child seats would be more comfortable. Cleverly, though, the back seats are a 40:20:40 split which is a very practical arrangement.
The boot too is pretty good at 508 litres (a space saver spare is standard). Drop the seats, which don’t fold totally flat and this grows to 1688 litres. If you pay for a full-size spare wheel than you’ll lose a bit of bootspace thanks to the cover for the spare which really does look like a ridiculous afterthought (see the pictures).
As you’d expect from a brand that counts Land Rover as a sibling, the Jaguar F-Pace gets some clever all-wheel drive techno-wizardry. Given the F-Pace isn’t intended to be an off-roader, although it does offer 213mm of ground clearance, it runs something called All-Surface Progress Control which is, in a nutshell, a “low speed cruise control” that helps the car to maintain traction in low traction situations. And that means, when you’re crawling along a rough road or climbing a slippery hill.
At the local launch we didn’t get a lot of time to play with the system but we did climb a split-mu hill that saw the two wheels on the right-hand side lose all traction which meant only the left-hand side wheels had any drive. After some initial slip, and with the system set to climb at 3.6km/h (the target speed) although it does work at up to 30km/h, you simply press the button and then use cruise control to adjust the speed up or down, the car climbed effortlessly up the ramp without any throttle application from the driver. And then the hill descent control function carried the car down the other side as smooth as could be.
On the short dirt road loop the system worked well across some man-made moguls which saw wheels lift. The F-Pace simply inched its way forward.
The all-wheel drive system, which is just about identical to the system in the F-Type AWD, allows the F-Pace to switch from its standard rear-drive bias (10:90) to either 50:50 or 90:10 front to rear in just 165 milliseconds. Jaguar claims the system is predictive rather than reactive, and that was certainly the sense you got when pushing it hard on the road where it never felt like the system was trying to gather the car up after understeering, rather it simply kept the car hauling through and then out of the corner. It also offers torque vectoring.
In terms of safety, the F-Pace hasn’t been tested by ANCAP, but it features airbags for front and rear seat passengers via a curtain airbag that reaches into and covers the back seat. It also offers permanent all-wheel drive, ISOFIX mounts on the outside rear seats, reversing camera as standard with front and rear parking sensors. Autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning are also standard. Cost options include things like lane keep assist ($1060); blind spot monitoring ($1120); surround camera ($2050); and 360-degree park assist ($1210), and more.