Jaguar F-Pace (2016 -) Driving & Performance

Review by Gareth Evans on
Last Updated: 25 Jul 2016
4.5
Set to be the best-selling Jaguar of all time, the all-new F-Pace is a critical car for the British brand. It enters the premium SUV market as a rival to some impressive machines, taking on the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5 and BMW X6, but unlike products from sister company Land Rover it’s been built with more of a sporty road-driving bias that calls the smaller Porsche Macan’s talents into question.

5 out of 5

Performance

You’ve got a choice of three engines here along with the option of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes on the smallest diesel. All other F-Paces get the latter.

Each of the F-Paces we’ve driven so far has been automatic, and they’ve performed very well indeed. Changes are so smooth they’re barely perceptible, and we didn’t find the car struggling to decide which ratio to pick – a problem on some rival gearboxes.

Diesel power

The majority of F-Paces you’ll see on the road will be powered by the 2-litre diesel engine that Jaguar calls Ingenium. This four-cylinder unit develops 177bhp and torque of 430Nm between 1,750 and 2,500rpm. This equates to a 0-62mph dash in 8.9 seconds in two-wheel drive manual form, with that time dropping to 8.7 seconds if you go for all-wheel drive or automatic gearboxes.

Far better than the engine Mercedes-Benz uses in the GLC-class, we found this motor to be perfectly adequate, and considering its running costs are so much lower than the other powerplants on offer, there isn’t much reason to go elsewhere unless you want to pick one of the higher trims. It doesn’t sound particularly inspiring when worked hard, but you’ll barely notice this because the F-Pace’s cabin is just so beautifully refined.

Jaguar has yet to let us have a go in either two-wheel drive or manual versions of the F-Pace, but given our experiences with the latter in other models (such as the F-Type and the XE) we’d suggest an automatic is probably a better fit for this car.

You can opt for more power courtesy of the twin-turbocharged 3-litre V6 diesel, and admittedly this is a nicer unit to drive, primarily because along with its 296bhp it boasts a massive 700Nm of torque at 2,000rpm. That means 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds – appreciably quicker – and thanks to the pair of extra cylinders it sounds better as well. It’s smoother to drive and has a slightly more purposeful burble, though it’s not exactly F-Type R levels of sonorous sound.

Petrol power

Ultimate F-Pace performance comes from the supercharged V6 petrol engine. This unit is lifted directly from the F-Type and makes 375bhp with torque of 450Nm, so 0-62mph takes 5.5 seconds. That’s as quick as some sportscars outright.

It sounds the part too, with a purposeful growl at low speeds making way for a bellowing wail when you wring its neck. Acceleration is instant and ferocious.

We just wonder how long it’ll be before the supercharged V8 engine from the F-Type R inevitably finds its way under the bonnet.

If you’re considering towing with the Jaguar F-Pace, braked towing weights start at 2,000kg for the 2-litre manual cars, rising to 2,400kg for all other models.

5 out of 5

Handling

The F-Pace is an incredibly accomplished drive regardless of specification. It manages this through a clever set of chassis components that work in harmony to provide a rear-wheel drive character for the most part, only diverting up to half the available torque to the front wheels when the car senses it’s required. We found this system uncanny in its performance, with Jaguar’s first SUV genuinely capable of driving as well as anything in the class short of a Porsche Macan – and the latter isn’t quite as big, comfortable or nice inside.

There’s a titanic amount of grip on offer. No matter how quickly you corner we doubt you’ll test the extremities of the wide tyres’ adhesion. It seems to drive better if you avoid the 22-inch wheels optionally available, and the F-Pace’s composure is more apparent with the taller sidewalls you get on smaller wheels. We found 20-inch items to be ideal – with cheaper tyres to replace too.

Its steering is finely honed, with enough feedback to inspire confident cornering and weighting that feels natural in all situations. The handling balance is great too, which further adds to the assured nature of the F-Pace. It always feels solid and composed – valuable peace of mind for the sorts of families who will buy this car.

We’ve only driven cars with Adaptive Dynamics suspension package so far – allowing you to switch between a comfier setting and a firmer sports one – but we couldn’t discern a massive difference between the two settings during our test anyway. We’re eager to try a car with standard suspension to see whether it’s a worthwhile option.

You get Land Rover’s Terrain Response system on all-wheel drive cars (called Adaptive Surface Response in the F-Pace’s case), which adapts the way the drivetrain and stability control systems work together to optimise the car for the sort of surface you’re driving on.

Off-road in the Jaguar F-Pace

We’ve driven this SUV on the rough stuff and can confirm it’s extremely capable, tackling far tougher terrain than Porsche dared to subject the Macan to when it was launched. You’d expect that, frankly, because don’t forget this is the same organisation that builds the Land Rover and Range Rover models that lead the field in this respect.

You don’t get quite as many off-road-centric features on the road-biased Jaguar, but you could hardly call it lacking either.

We were particularly impressed with the All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) system, which acts like cruise control for off-road driving. Set it to any speed up to 19mph and it’ll take care of the car’s speed for you, leaving you to operate the steering.