Clever business decisions have clearly been made with the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace 20d Prestige.
Firstly, the F-Pace name aligns Jaguar’s first-ever SUV with the F-Type coupe, as does a rear-end that appears like a stretched version of the latter. Given that premium cars often sell on a merge of sportiness and space, the combo like ideal.
This entry-level diesel promises to deliver family-friendly economy behind the sporty façade, but the F-Pace also doesn’t attempt to directly tackle the likes of the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. In terms of size and price it fits directly between those German and their larger X5 and GLE siblings respectively.
The question is: does it leave the Jaguar sitting pretty in a sweet spot between them?
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $74,340 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 132kW/430Nm 2.0 turbo-diesel four-cylinder | eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.3 l/100km | Tested: 8.8 l/100km
This is the entry-level F-Pace 20d Prestige priced from $74,340 plus on-road costs. Given the X3 is soon replaced, the equivalent specification for the brand new (and hugely popular) Mercedes-Benz GLC costs from just $69,900 (plus orc).
The equivalent specification for the BMW X5, meanwhile, costs $91,155 (plus orc).
In terms of body length the Jaguar stretches 4731mm from its XF sedan-like snout to F-Type-esque rear, which is 75mm longer than the Benz yet 155mm shorter than X5. And therein reveals the ‘inbetweener’ positioning of the British brand’s first-ever SUV.
As with its German rivals above, the F-Pace 20d Prestige teams a four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with all-wheel drive.
- Standard Equipment: keyless entry with push-button start, power windows and mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, multi-function trip computer, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather trim with electrically adjustable front seats and cruise control
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with USB and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, satellite navigation and 380-watt Meridian sound system
- Options Fitted: $3400 panoramic glass roof, $1800 keyless auto-entry, $940 configurable mood lighting, $900 digital audio system, $850 electrically adjustable steering column and $640 activity key
- Cargo Volume: 508 litres
Behind the front seats the F-Pace makes its greatest first impression. All that extra body length over the GLC translates to among the most generous rear legroom in the medium SUV segment; and enough to almost match large SUV rivals, too.
Lanky teenagers will appreciate the headroom, legroom and footroom as much as the generously padded back bench and the plethora of storage and connectivity options, including a rear USB port and 12-volt power socket just below the airvents.
Jaguar hasn’t skimped on rear door trim finish, either, which includes an impressive blend of soft-touch plastics, and silver and piano-black finishes.
The front seats are as nicely supportive and of the same medium firmness as the rear bench, while the dashboard design is as nicely presented as the XE medium sedan it heavily borrows from.
Funky multi-colour mood lighting is the biggest differentiator from XE models tested in the past, but its inclusion on our test car raises eyebrows as it is a $940 option. If rear space is the F-Pace’s ace card, then options pricing is its joker.
Some basics are covered as standard, including an electric tailgate, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, moderately powerful Meridian audio system, electrically adjustable front seats with leather trim and forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking (AEB). But it isn’t enough for $75K.
The highlight of a long options list is Jaguar’s superb activity key ($600) – which allows you to lock the key inside the vehicle, then go running or swimming wearing a rubber band on your wrist that locks and unlocks your shiny new SUV.
Once inside, though, the 8.0-inch colour touchscreen is average in and its sat-nav can be slow to operate, while selecting the excellent 10.2in touchscreen teamed with a full-TFT speedometer and tachometer cluster requires a $4000 bump to the price.
Despite its cheaper pricetag the Benz comes standard with the following equipment, with the Jaguar extra-cost pricing in brackets: LED headlights ($3600), auto park assistance and surround-view monitor (a $3450 bundle), adaptive cruise ($3200), keyless auto-entry ($1800), blind-spot warning ($1220 with cross-traffic alert), lane-keep assistance ($1060) and digital radio ($900).
Even adaptive suspension and 20-inch alloy wheels standard on the German contender, respectively add $2530 and $1700 to the British option.
To get the F-Pace 20d Prestige lineball for spec requires $19,460 in options, all of which makes the F-Pace freakishly pricey.
Although it has extra length on its size, the Jaguar’s 508-litre boot capacity also falls short of the 550L Benz. That said, the square space is very usable and the 40:20:40 split-fold rear seat backrest enhances its practicality proposition.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 132kW/430Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo diesel
- Transmission: eight-speed automatic, AWD
- Suspension: Multi-link front and rear
- Brake: ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes
- Steering: electrically assisted mechanical steering
As reflected by its cabin design, the F-Pace shares its engineering fundamentals with the XE; Jaguar deliberately leaves its offroad-biased platforms to sibling Land Rover.
The new Ingenium 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is shared across both brands, meanwhile, and in this application it makes 132kW of power at 4000rpm and 430Nm of torque between 1750rpm and 2500rpm.
Allied to an eight-speed automatic, its claimed 8.7-second 0-100km/h feels about right when floored from standstill. In other instances, however, this diesel engine is caught out by the sheer weight of this medium SUV, which tips the scales at 1775kg.
The F-Pace 20d Prestige is a mighty 210kg heavier than the XE 20d Prestige sedan that offers identical outputs from the same engine, but costs from $62,800 (plus orc) and claims a 7.8sec 0-100km/h.
A GLC250, meanwhile, delivers an extra 18kW/70Nm to claim a 7.6sec 0-100km/h.
Jaguar’s normal mode delivers soft throttle response that makes for frustrating progress around town. Even in normal driving, turning a street corner then applying the throttle results in seconds of nil response before the engine raises revs or the auto drops gears.
The alternate Dynamic mode is better – and the F-Pace impressively retains that setting after each drive – but it then holds lower gears to the detriment of economy. The engine and auto are refined and adept operators, but having outputs similar to a (half-the-price, 142kg-lighter, 129kW/420Nm) Mazda CX-5 is a tough ask.
Thankfully, the F-Pace is more like the XE in terms of its steering and handling, both of which are excellent. The former is utterly natural in its response, with perfect medium weighting that eludes even BMW passenger vehicles, while the suspension successfully hides the tall centre of gravity and excess weight of this medium SUV.
In fact, the way the front-end of the 20d Prestige stays flat even when hustled through successive bends is outstanding.
It will take choosing the 30d Prestige to draw out the benefits of the chassis, though – and considering its V6 turbo-diesel offers 220kW/700Nm for a $10,204 premium over this model, it seems like a great-value upsell considering an optional head-up display asks a quarter of that price.
Where the F-Pace cannot match the XE is in ride quality. Its 19-inch tyres are sensibly broad, but the suspension is obviously firmer to enhance the handling. Generally the ride is decent, but its thumping and jolting is absent in the sedan.
It is all swings and round-a-bouts, though. Part of the reason the F-Pace weighs so much is down to its all-wheel drive hardware, which is typically 100 per cent rear-driven like the XE, but has the flexibility to shift to a 50:50 torque split in milliseconds.
ANCAP has not rated the Jaguar F-Pace.
Safety Features: Dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, ABS and ESC, and front and rear parking sensors with reverse-view camera, forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
Servicing: Very infrequent servicing is impressive, with bi-annual or 34,000km dealership visits costing just $1100 for the first three (over six years or 102,000km).
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Q5 is about to be replaced, and the XC60 is old.
The X3 is superb in xDrive 30d guise, which offers 190kW/560Nm six-cylinder turbo-diesel for $79,055 (plus orc) with more kit than the F-Pace – but it is likewise getting on in years.
There are good reasons why the GLC250 CDI is so popular, and at $10K less than that BMW it is a fine family all-rounder.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Jaguar has nailed the concept of a medium-to-large SUV and within its engine options and extra-cost equipment there is a great F-Pace to be found.
The 20d Prestige doesn’t lack performance, but it lacks driveability and its weight forces the little 430Nm four-cylinder turbo-diesel to work hard. Choosing the 30d Prestige and its 700Nm six-cylinder turbo-diesel is all but a must.
Meanwhile, with a larger centre screen and colour screen in front of the driver, and when equipped with active safety aids and luxury equipment that should be standard, the F-Pace should deliver on its premium medium SUV promise.
If Jaguar dealers are willing to throw a few features into the 30d Prestige, then the superb rear accommodation, dynamic performance, and sharp styling would surely combine to create an impressive all-rounder. The 20d Prestige, though, is an F-Pace that falls slightly off the pace.
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