Driven : Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d Portfolio AWD

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

The Jaguar F-Pace seems to be selling well within weeks of going on sale. You see them everywhere, a clear indicator that Jaguar is building cars that buyers want. Question is, as it’s an all-new proposition, is it good enough to tear buyers away from their Audi Q5s and BMW X3s?

For our first test, we’ve spent a week behind the wheel of the mid-range 2.0d Portfolio, powered by what is likely to be – in the UK – the most popular engine option. Should the opposition from Germany, Japan and Sweden be worried?

F-Pace (1)

The Jaguar of the 2010s is a very different to the one of 10 years ago. Back then, it was selling a small range of luxury saloons and two-seaters, with much of its styling rooted in the past. Today, it’s confident and forward looking and, if the latest JD Power results are to be believed, the product is reliable, and customers love them. Would the Jaguar of the 1990s have built anything like the F-Pace? That’s unlikely…

Indeed, if nothing else, that tells you all you need to know about today’s Jaguar: it’s building cars that buyers actually want. Based on the X760-generation XE platform, the F-Pace dives into a congested crossover market dominated by the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. Given the latter part of the Jaguar Land Rover group has been building very roadworthy off-roaders for years, why should it start building a Jaguar to fulfil largely the same job?

Why indeed? Well, let’s get this out of the way straight away – although the F-Pace might well boast four-wheel drive and be powered by the same Ingenium engine as the Discovery Sport and Evoque, their relative merits are so diverse, there’s little actual crossover between the two – we doubt F-Pace sales will cannibalise Land Rover sales, and vice versa. However, we can see the F-Pace eating into the opposition, as on paper, it’s advanced, appealing and slap bang in the middle of one of the fastest-growing market sector in terms of global sales.

It’s technically up there. Like the Jaguar XE and XF, it’s based on an 80 per cent aluminium architecture, although the F-Pace is uniquely sized within the group. It’s a large car at 4.7m in length, and is bulkier than its immediate rivals – although sinuous styling disguises the fact until you’re on top of it. Suspension is double wishbones up front and an integral link set-up at the rear while, as we’ll see, it’s very much set up as a road car.

Sitting behind the wheel offers up no surprises for those who speak modern JLR. The driving position is very car-like and the bulky A- and B-pillars are cleverly configured not to interfere too much with forward vision. The dashboard is familiar to anyone who has driven any Jaguar, post-F-Type, with the same instrument packs, switchgear, rotary gear selector and infotainment set-up. Good looking, yes. Innovative, not so. Considering it’s almost a decade since the original XF hit the scene – and was lauded for its progressiveness – this doesn’t move things on at all. Again, does this matter, as it all works? You be the judge.

jaguar_f-pace_20d_awd_r-sport_32

It’s big inside, as you’d expect. The load-floor is high, but it’s also flat, and lines a roomy boot. There’s a commendable amount of head- and leg-room front and rear, and there’s more than enough space for one six-footer to comfortably sit behind another. Before you say ‘so it should be’, you try the same in a Porsche Macan. Finish is good, although it suffers from cheap-feeling stalks, which we’d like to see upgraded.

On the road, the 177bhp Ingenium engine isn’t lacking much in terms of punch. It’s very quiet and refined – much more so than the 2.0-litre Jaguar XE we recently sampled. Perhaps it’s better installed here but, whereas in the saloon, it sometimes feels agricultural, in the F-Pace, it’s near-silent at idle. Get moving, and it’s more good news. The eight-speed ZF automatic is brilliant at swapping cogs and generally being in the right gear at the right time, and it helps haul this bulky vehicle along with agreeable liveliness.

We timed the 0-60mph time at 8.1 seconds, and Jaguar claims it’ll hit 132mph. That’s not bad for a 2.0-litre vehicle of this size and weight (1775kg) which averaged 40mpg in the week we had it. Despite it being pacy enough to go with the flow, it’s steady-speed cruising where the F-Pace impresses most – at 70mph it’s turning over less than 2000rpm, you can barely hear the turbodiesel upfront and there’s instant punch should you need it. A shame that it sounds so dull when you do extend it…

Dynamically, it’s well-sorted, and is clearly a car that’s been tuned for more sporting drivers’ tastes. The front-end feels light, and it’ll happily dive into corners without much in the way of body roll. The old cliche about shrinking around you applies here, although there’s a pay-off. In standard damping mode, it’s bouncy and a tad lacking in control, but in Sport, it’s firmer and much more tied down, even if you get a little too intimate with road surface irregularities. Really, ‘Sport’ should be the default setting.

Will it be reliable and painless in service? The signs are very good, with fleet managers reporting that the XE and XF are admirably fault-free in service. Dealers, too, come in for plenty of praise for their customer service. Although fuel consumption won’t be a huge factor for this car’s first owner, we were more than happy with what we returned while on test.

As the entry-level F-Pace, the 2.0d should leave us cold. The XE and XF are hugely impressive in larger-engined form, but the 2.0-litre versions feel anti-climactic. Here, the entry-level car is far from disappointing. It’s quick, refined and reasonably fuel efficient. It also drives well, is roomy, comfortable and is brimming with feel and agility. If it’s lacking in anything, it’s a feeling of deep-seated interior quality – and design flair – but we know there are no long-term issues to worry about on this score.

It’s an impressive car, and proof that Jaguar Land Rover is becoming rather adept at giving buyers what they want. It’s no step-change, and by no means perfect, but it feels effortlessly comfortable in its own skin – which makes it easy to forget that this is Jaguar’s first ever crossover. The boys in the Midlands have done well – the success coming their way is richly deserved.

F-Pace (2)

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

25 Comments

  1. Pleased it’s good. I was doubtful about Jaguar entering this market, but now it’s here it will build sales for the brand and presumably the worldwide best seller. Will it steal sales from the BMW and Audi? Presumably it will.

  2. Yep – these seem to be far more common than the XE and new XF. I guess that’s because of the way the market is moving, but also it does seem to be a stand out product within its medium SUV market whereas the XE/XF don’t really move the game on at all in their sectors.

  3. Interesting.. I’ve seen more of these after initial launch than the Ford Mondeo.. these F-Pace cars seem to be getting everywhere.. I like it. Means everyone’s job is pretty safe.

  4. An attractive car in many ways. As others have noted I’ve seen a few on the road already and Jaguar seem to have a sales hit. My own wallet is twitching but to actually get the cash out it will need to have a 6 cylinder engine with a lower trim level to get the price down.

  5. Giving customers the cars they want – that’s the secret – unlike Rover Group days of trying to sell/develop cars that its management wanted?

    What are the chances of Jaguar going further upmarket by reintroducing Daimler?

  6. This is all good news! If it helps Jaguar to hit the sales volumes that it deserves and helps clear the roads of X3’s and other such detritus, while Land Rover can carry on as before, what’s not to like?

  7. I was cynical about Jaguar entering the crossover market, but this looks good and they’re starting to sell well. At last Jaguar seems to have buried the obsession with sixties styling that didn’t do much for sales, and are making contemporary cars people want to buy. The F Pace could do for Jaguar what the XJ6 did in the late sixties.

  8. Only seen three of these but seen countless XE and XF’s especially while up in Norfolk a couple of weeks ago. First one I saw was in White and it looked ugly as hell but the burgundy coloured car I saw looked sleek, the silver one not so.

  9. Don’t like it personally, and agree with daveh that the first one I saw (driving around Banbury, pre-launch) in white looked terrible – like a misshapen super-sized bar of soap. That said, people like this kind of thing, and there is a lot of good feeling for Jaguar at present, so I expect it to sell. Please, at facelift time, spend the money on a more special interior: a special interior is a Jag ‘USP’ – the XJ’s is a masterpiece and the Mk1 XF was lovely, so we know that the current set of designers have it in their gifts!

  10. Selling well? not round me , the F-type is selling better as it should be . The sooner they go back to building propper jags like the F-Type and the X350 and stop copying the germans the better. And bring back interiors with true class of walnut and leather
    This is just another Seriously Ugly Veihcle or SUV

  11. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/29/f-pace-sets-record-as-fastest-selling-jaguar-in-companys-history/

    “Jaguar’s new F-Pace SUV has become the fastest-selling car in the company’s 94-year history, fuelling expectations that parent company JLR may finally be able to break nearly a decade of over-reliance on sales of Land Rover cars.

    30,000 models of the marque’s first ever SUV have been sold globally since it hit British roads in mid-April before going on to be sold overseas. JLR is having to secure additional cars to satisfy customer demand, raising the prospect of a new production line having to be built at its Solihull factory if interest continues at the current pace.”

    I’ve seen several of them around and think it looks great! I’d agree that Jaguar need to up their game when it comes to interiors though

    I assume moving the XE to Castle Bromwich will free up space to increase production of the F-Pace

  12. Where are they selling them? China at a guess. It’s not southern England I’ve seen only one, numerous times (666 number plate) looks awful in red. Lost count of the F-types though

  13. In the last couple of weeks I’ve seen a helluva lot of them around here (Nottingham). If they carry on increasing at the present rate they will become as common as BMWs.

    And now that I’ve had a chance to see so many, I’m increasingly thinking they are rather ungainly and awkward looking – they remind me of the first version of the Porsche Cayenne.

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