Jaguar F-Pace SUV review
“The Jaguar F-Pace looks good and has sharp handling, while also working well as a family car”
- Smooth, quiet and powerful engines
- One of the most stylish SUVs
- Good fun to drive
- Quite expensive
- Petrol engine is thirsty
- Most powerful engines only available in higher-spec models
After a long history of building sports cars and luxury models, the Jaguar F-Pace became the first SUV ever built by the British marque. It was certainly necessary, because in recent years there’s been a growing trend towards SUV ownership, and models from rival manufacturers, like the Porsche Macan, BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC were hoovering up sales. Not only that, but new models like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio keep arriving, too.
Jaguar didn't have to start from scratch, using much of the technology from the Jaguar XE and Jaguar XF saloons and the Ingenium engine range. The extensive engine line-up includes 2.0-litre petrols providing 247 or 296bhp and 161, 178 and 237bhp diesels of the same size. For performance fans, there's also a 3.0-litre diesel and a 5.0-litre V8 SVR version with 542bhp. Jaguar is clearly committed to its SUV strategy, as the F-Pace has been joined in the range by the smaller Jaguar E-Pace and the electric Jaguar I-Pace.
If fuel-efficiency is the priority, along with low emissions for an affordable Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rating, the entry-level, rear-wheel-drive F-Pace with a 178bhp diesel engine is capable of up to 45.8mpg (depending on wheels and options) and 166g/km of CO2. Aimed squarely at company-car drivers, it's the only F-Pace that falls into the BiK band below the top rate.
Private buyers are likely to go for the four-wheel-drive version of the same 2.0-litre diesel instead, with fuel economy only dropping to 38.3-41.9 mpg. If you want an F-Pace that feels as fast as it looks, there’s also a 3.0-litre diesel with 297bhp, getting from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds.
Petrol models are thirstier, but offer more of a sporting feel. Even the 247bhp 25t will give most hot hatchbacks a stern test at the drag strip with a 7.0-second 0-62mph time. The range-topping 542bhp supercharged V8 SVR model is faster still, recording a 0-62mph time of 4.3 seconds that's quicker than many sports cars.
The majority of versions are fitted with four-wheel drive, and this is sure to help in slippery conditions, should you find yourself in a grass car park or wintry weather. And while the F-Pace isn’t really meant for off-road driving, Jaguar has been able to borrow a lot of know-how from sister brand Land Rover to help tune its software and hardware. Still, the F-Pace's limited ground clearance, large alloy wheels and sports tyres mean a Land Rover Discovery Sport is a better bet if you live somewhere really rugged.
Jaguar has made good on its traditional promise of suspension supple enough to retain a good ride and isolate unwanted noise from reaching occupants, without the car wallowing in corners as a result. The 2.0-litre diesel can sound a little strident under hard acceleration, but it’s not too intrusive and settles to a smooth hum at cruising speeds.
The F-Pace also boasts a 650-litre boot – bigger than the Macan’s and only 20 litres smaller than you’ll find in a Porsche Cayenne from the class above. It’s easy to make the boot larger, too, with 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats, also allowing longer items like snowboards or skis to fit through the middle with four people in the car.
The F-Pace scored well when independently crash-tested by Euro NCAP, received the same five stars as the Jaguar XF, thanks to its strong body shell and comprehensive safety kit such as traffic-sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking, which can bring the car safely to a halt if a hazard is detected in its path. Meanwhile, Jaguar’s decent finish of 12th out of 30 manufacturers in our 2020 Driver Power survey means satisfaction should be assured.
The small, upmarket SUV class might already have been competitive, but the F-Pace has made it even fiercer. It’s an attractive model that drives like a sports saloon and is offered with a wide range of engines and trims, making it difficult for many customers to overlook, even those not previously considering a car in its class. Our pick of the range is the 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel with rear-wheel drive in R-Sport trim. This offers a strong blend of value, performance and low running costs, while sporty looks and plentiful equipment suit the F-Pace and should appeal to future owners, boosting residual values.