Jaguar F-Pace

It drives like a taller, heavier Jaguar ought to Ė stymied by height and weight, but one thatís made the best of things

by MATT PRIOR

Porsche Macan hunter putting the ĎSí into SUV

ENGINE 2995cc V6, DOHC, 24v, supercharger / POWER 280kW @ 6500rpm / TORQUE 450Nm @ 4500rpm / WEIGHT 1861KG/ 0-100KM/H 5.5sec (claimed) / PRICE $103,420 y the time most manufacturers are releasing their sixth or seventh SUV/crossover/ off-roader/4x4/callit- what-you-will in their range, the F-Pace is Jaguarís first. Maybe it hasnít wanted to step on Land Roverís toes.

The F-Paceís supposed dynamism is intended to quell any of those fears. Jaguarís dynamics team have had one particular rival in mind: the F-Pace is meant to be better to drive than a Porsche Macan. If it is, the Land Rover Discovery Sport will be free to go about its business.

To that end, and unlike the Audi Q5 and Macan, which share a fair amount of their underpinnings, the F-Pace bears about as much mechanical resemblance to a Discovery Sport as a penguin does to a kestrel.

There are three engines: two B diesels, one a four, one a V6, but the one we care most about today is the 280kW supercharged 3.0-litre petrol V6 that does rather good work elsewhere in the Jaguar range, most audibly in the F-Type.

All of the above drive all four wheels through that most fantastic of gearboxes, the eight-speed ZF automatic (although a six-speed manual is an option on the 2.0d only, as is two-wheel drive).

Hereís one place where Jaguar hopes that dedication to the dynamic cause will do the F-Pace a favour.

The four-wheel drive system is the same type it uses on the F-Type, which means itís rear driven most of the time, occasionally puts around 20 per cent of power to the front and can send 50 per cent forward if it really needs to.

When it arrives in Australia in the third quarter of this year, the S trim blown 3.0-litre V6 will cost $103,420 and at this price it gets an interior thatís starting to feel a little out of its comfort zone. The upper surfaces of the cabin are soft and feel well assembled and there are smartly finished ambient lights on the upper doors, but the lower door surfaces have a bit less give than youíd hope.

However, itís nothing to get too worked up about.

The driving position is good enough, though. And the drive?

Precisely likewise. Terrible phrase coming up: the F-Pace retains recognisable Jaguar DNA. It drives like a taller, heavier Jaguar ought to Ė a car inevitably stymied by the addition of height and weight, but one that has made the best of things.

Itís a car whose engineers know that the rest of the Jaguar range, for all the things that might keep them off the top of the class elsewhere, steer, ride and handle better than anything else on the market. And so, I suspect Ė although Iíd want a back-to-back test on some good roads first Ė the same is the case here.

The 3.0-litre engine fires to an idle thatís quieter, inevitably and thankfully, than youíll find in an F-Type Ė the sort of car that wakes the neighbours Ė but the character is still there. Itís a rich noise. And it gives a smooth delivery and stepoff on light throttle openings. When you fancy a slightly brisker getaway, though, itíll happily disconcert a passenger; this is a 5.5sec car to 100km/h after all.

The gearshift is, as expected, very good, too, such that youíll want to use the wheel-mounted paddles at any appropriate opportunity. Itís a credit to the F-Pace that itís that kind of car Ė the kind in which you decide you fancy involving yourself in the grubby business of gear selection, just for the fun of it.

It steers well Ė itís a slick, accurate, oily rack thatís quick enough at 2.5 turns between locks Ė and rides deftly. Body control is good in the adaptive dampersí standard mode, but also Dynamic, the tighter setup giving better body control yet far from ruins the ride, which is very good in its standard setting and still good on the firmer one.

And the handling? The F-Pace is good Ė better, Iím sure, than anything up to and perhaps including (backto- back test, etc) the Macan. If you wanted to make a car handle, you wouldnít make it 1861kg and 1.7 metres tall. But if you have done that, youíd do worse than hire engineers from Jaguar or Porsche.

The V6 turns in keenly and grips well. Itís ostensibly rear driven and features torque vectoring, to apportion power at the rear so it isnít wasted by spinning an inside wheel.

What results is a car that is easy and rewarding to drive at any speed.

Itís easy to develop a flow with it, a rhythm. On this reckoning, the F-Pace puts as much S into SUV as youíd realistically want to. In short, it feels like a Jaguar. Which is precisely as it should be. M

STAR RATING 4.0

Like

A better drive than any SUV has a right to be; looks good in S trim

Dislike

Too tall and heavy for genuine driving thrills; interior