Like the leaping cat that adorns its front grille, the 2018 Jaguar F-Pace quickly pounced into position as the storied British brand’s top seller in this country.
What launched in 2015 as Jaguar’s first SUV has been given a Model Year 2018 (MY18) update offering more engines and model grades, while this medium F-Pace will soon be followed by a small E-Pace sibling … which is tagged to be a best seller.
For now, this new F-Pace 25t R-Sport model grade takes centre stage in the revised range. Sporting a brand new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, this middle model grade slides above the 20d but below the 30t, 30d and 35t.
The 25t is also flanked by a similarly new ‘25d’ diesel, and is available for the first time in rear-wheel drive (RWD) or – as tested here – all-wheel drive (AWD).
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV Price: $81,787 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 184kW/365Nm 2.0 four-cylinder turbo petrol | eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.4 l/100km | Tested: 10.7 l/100km
The F-Pace range starts from $72,510 plus on-road costs in 20d Prestige RWD guise with a 132kW/430Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine and eight-speed auto.
It then steps to $73,252 (RWD) or $76,027 (AWD) for the 25t Prestige (both plus orc) that each score this 184kW/365Nm petrol version of that Ingenium engine family.
Stepping up $5500 to this 25t R-Sport AWD buys a driver-select system (for steering/drivetrain), gloss-black window surround, side ‘power’ vents, a bodykit, metal treadplates, sports seats with premium leather, steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters and black rooflining.
It certainly doesn’t seem like a top-value upgrade, particularly considering the lack of equipment inside (see below).
- Standard Equipment: Keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, multi-function trip computer, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, leather trim with electrically adjustable front seats, automatic on/off wipers and LED headlights and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, satellite navigation and 380-watt Meridian audio.
- Options Fitted: 12.3in driver display/10.2in touchscreen with 825W Meridian audio ($5280), panoramic roof ($4420), electric tailgate with keyless auto-entry and cooled glovebox ($3850), adaptive suspension ($3140), head-up display ($2540), 20-inch alloy wheels ($1790), 360-degree camera ($1280), blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert ($1180).
It is astonishing that in 2018 the F-Pace 25t R-Sport doesn’t at least offer keyless auto-entry or an electric tailgate as standard. Check the above list of options that add a staggering $23,480 to the base price as-tested, pushing it to $105,267 (plus orc).
Even optioning a large touchscreen with premium audio (for $5280) or a head-up display (for $2540 alone), still isn’t enough to score a digital radio, either – which needs another $950 by itself.
Jaguar is simply pricing itself out of value contention with rivals such as the newer BMW X3 xDrive30i and Volvo XC60 T6, for example, both of which start at $76-77K. Both then further add standard features that are optional here, such as up to 21-inch wheels, keyless auto-entry, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-keep and auto-park assistance, head-up display, LED auto-adaptive high-beam, digital radio, and multi-zone climate control.
Thankfully the Jaguar is more competitive in terms of cabin quality and space.
With soft-touch door trims including vertical door grabs, a nice leather-topped dashboard, a tactile feel to every control, and niceties such as a flock-lined centre console storage bin and glovebox, the F-Pace feels high-five-figure premium.
The large touchscreen works effortlessly when finger-swiping between menus, although the colour driver display could be more intuitive and the lack of voice control for navigation is irksome in an age where ‘one shot’ destination entry is expected.
That the 25t R-Sport also manages to blend neat finish with thoughtful usability is impressive, though. Up front there are nooks on each side of the transmission tunnel, perfect for storing a smartphone, while the rear door bins are enormous as well.
All-round seating is perhaps a touch firmer than ideal, particularly in the back given the slight lack of side support, however thankfully the questionable red leather and woodgrain combination is just one of several available.
This British SUV also ekes out the best from its medium-to-large dimensions by offering surplus rear legroom. This model is roomier than an X3, while being smaller on the outside than that BMW’s X5 large SUV sibling.
Perhaps the 508-litre boot volume could be more generous, however, given that the X3 now offers a 550L boot and even the XC60 – which matches the Jaguar for rear legroom and offers an even plusher back bench – delivers virtually the same 505L.
And now is probably a good time to mention that Jaguar’s similarly priced XF Sportbrake wagon can offer 565L of boot space, more than any of those SUVs…
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 184kW/365Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo petrol
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, AWD
- Suspension: Independent front and rear
- Brake: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
- Cargo Volume: 508 litres
Experience with the terse ride quality of an F-Pace 20d on standard suspension and 20-inch tyres quickly reveals that this F-Pace 25t, riding on optional adaptive suspension and 20s, is demonstrably superior. That said, it costs $3140 extra…
A major upside is that, in Normal mode, this Jaguar is now reasonably silky and fluent over bumps large and small. Switch to Dynamic, and the loss of ride comfort is evident but it hardly turns harsh – more jittery and jolting, if only slightly.
While there are big ticks to be found there, though, in Normal occupants won’t be able to escape some lumbering head toss from a vehicle that weighs 1760kg and has a tall centre of gravity. Dynamic holds a tighter grip on proceedings, but with a compliance compromise.
That hefty kerb weight also hurts the efficacy of the 2.0-litre turbo, which is a sweet engine that can simply struggle in such a portly application. Jaguar’s XE medium sedan with this same engine weighs 220kg less than this F-Pace medium SUV does – the equivalent of having about three extra adults on board all of the time.
In a straight line, the short gearing of the excellent eight-speed automatic helps make the 6.8-second 0-100km/h claim feel realistic, but attempt to pin the throttle from cruising speed and the 2.0-litre seems to take a ‘gasp’ before powering forth.
It’s a similar story when scaling a tight hillclimb. Set to Dynamic mode and the suspension keeps deft control of the tall and sizeable F-Pace body, making it feel like an enlarged hatchback more than a wallowing SUV.
While it absolutely bests an X3 and especially an XC60 for driver involvement and enjoyment, though, the engine again struggles to eek the best from the chassis. And, ultimately, we’re talking ‘best for a medium SUV’ here. The aforementioned XE medium sedan or XF Sportbrake wagon would feel more fluent and less forced.
A highlight is the steering, something of which Jaguar tends to do consistently well in any of its vehicles. And indeed it’s the mid-weighted consistency, as well as the tight and responsive ratio, that impresses to a high degree.
The lowlight, though, is fuel consumption. The 25t R-Sport recorded 14.5 litres per 100 kilometres around town and only lowered to 10.7L/100km – still 50 per cent higher than its claim – after a sizeable freeway stint followed by hilly country driving.
The Jaguar F-Pace has not been tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Dual front, front-side and curtain airbags, ABS and ESC, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, lane-departure warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Servicing: Jaguar offers a five-year/130,000km servicing plan for a relatively affordable $1500 up-front cost.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Q5 is the all-rounder, while the X3 shares two traits with the F-Pace – it feels slower and thirstier than expected, but boasts excellent handling.
The GLC250 feels cheap inside and its packaging is sub-par, as is the Macan’s which can only compete as an under-equipped four-cylinder model for under $100K. If you want a real driver’s SUV, though, look no further than the Porsche.
Surprisingly it is the new XC60 T6 R-Design that best blends value and cabin and suspension comfort with steering crispness and superb performance, if not ultra-sharp handling. But with a medium SUV, where do your priorities lie?
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI sport quattro BMW X3 xDrive30i Mercedes-Benz GLC250 4MATIC Porsche Macan Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If the F-Pace came equipped with even a basic level of standard kit then its score could be higher here, although the 25t R-Sport AWD isn’t the pick of the range.
For $7200 more than the base price of this model, its sibling 25d R-Sport AWD delivers twin-turbo-diesel torque, or 500Nm of it to be precise and 145Nm more than the petrol tested here. It even has a similar 177kW of power, down only 7kW, and will help overcome weight and lower fuel use (officially 5.8L/100km, 1.6L/100km lower).
Of course even that model lacks the features of this model while being pricier again, so a recommendation comes with the caveat of drilling the dealership hard on a deal.
A few comparisons with rival standard equipment should certainly help, because Jaguar’s first SUV deserves a more impressive value equation to go along with its excellent packaging and driving dynamics.
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