2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d review
The best-selling Jaguar F-Pace in the UK will be powered by this 2.0-litre diesel engine. After a drive on roads abroad, it's time to see how it stacks up on our more challenging Tarmac...
The Jaguar F-Pace SUV is a rival to the likes of everything from the Porsche Macan, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and Volvo XC60, such is the breadth of its powertrain options and pricing structure, which range from a relatively frugal four-cylinder diesel through to a sporty V6 petrol, and from £36,600 to £50,230 respectively.
Here we’re testing the Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d 180 AWD auto, priced towards the lower end of the scale and powered by the engine that's expected to be the most popular for UK F-Pace buyers – a 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel. Our test car came fitted with an optional eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, and was in R-Sport trim, which brings with it sports seats, xenon headlights, an upgraded steering wheel and a host of more aggressive styling features – particularly around the bumpers and grille. 19in alloys feature as standard on this trim but our car was fitted with optional 20s.
With the order books full for the approaching six months, you’re unlikely to be able to negotiate a penny off the £37,910 asking price, although the company car (BIK) tax costs still stack up well against equivalent diesel versions of the Q5, X3 and GLC, which are its most relevant rivals in this form.
What's the 2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d like to drive?
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is no firebrand, but for most people, most of the time, it will certainly be enough. However, there’s no denying the V6 diesel allows for a more relaxing driving experience both because it has lots more low-down pulling power. Meanwhile, the supercharged V6 petrol engine complements the F-Pace’s sporting credentials more willingly.
Refinement isn't the 2.0d's strongest suit compared with the six-cylinder engines, either. There's a gruff noise when starting from cold and more of it when the engine is pushed, although it does settle down once warm at low revs and a steady cruise. Worse, though, is road noise, which is quite noticeable on the motorway – although our test car's optional 20in alloys were no doubt partly to blame.
There are benefits of this 2.0 diesel to consider, though, including the weight saved over the nose, which is noticeable if you drive keenly because it adds an edge of agility in direction changes that isn’t quite there in the V6-engined cars. Whichever engine you choose, though, the F-Pace steers precisely, turns in keenly and remains flat through sharp corners while gripping well. It's seriously capable by SUV standards.
However, while the F-Pace is certainly one of the most agile large SUVs, our experience of its standard passive suspension – together with optional (£1200) 20in alloy wheels – suggests Jag's optional £960 adaptive dampers are worth forking out for. We've only tried the adaptive setup abroad, but it delivered a more composed ride – particularly over scruffy surfaces in town.
What's the 2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d like inside?
For all the genuinely sporty credentials of the F-Pace, it has also been designed with the family market in mind, and that shows in the capacious boot, in the cabin where there's enough room for four six-footers to get comfortable, and with the number of practical storage areas around the interior. The seats are also comfortable, providing good support, while our car's optional panoramic sunroof lent it an appealing airy feel.
Also deserving of praise is Jaguar's latest InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, which reacts swiftly to inputs and is intuitive to use; it's one of the best touchscreen systems we’ve tried. It's a pity, therefore, that it's a costly option at £1710. The standard 8.0in system is still decent enough and has DAB radio and sat-nav, but it's that bit slower to respond when you press the screen.
Jaguar claims 650 litres of boot space with the seats up – 100 litres more than BMW X3 and 110 litres more than the Audi Q5 on paper, although the different ways manufacturers measure the load area can sometimes be deceptive. What is clear is that the boot is large and well shaped, and with the seats down it is extremely spacious. Families with buggies and other accoutrements to cart around need have no concerns about practicality.
While the cabin is noticeably spacious and generally smart, with occasional, appealing flourishes, there are some hard, cheaper feeling plastics around the cabin, especially around the centre console. These are relatively minor negatives, but undoubtedly detract from some of the star allure the car’s styling hints at.
Should I buy one?
There are many and varied reasons for buying an F-Pace, and that breadth of talents is a great triumph for Jaguar. This is an SUV that's agile and fun to drive, spacious and practical and is even competitive on the costs front.
Of those facets, the ownership and running costs will be key, especially on this model that will appeal to fleet and private buyers alike. CO2 emissions of 139g/km put it roughly on a par with key rivals, as do resale value predictions, while insurance premiums and the 21,000-mile or two-year servicing intervals are highly competitive.
Holding the F-Pace back slightly is its average refinement, slightly disappointing cabin and a firm ride – at least in the form we've tried it in the UK. Based on previous experience abroad, it's likely an example on smaller wheels and optional adaptive suspension will prove that bit more comfortable.
Jim Holder and Rory White*What Car? says...**
Rated 4 out of 5*Rivals**
Audi Q5*Jaguar F-Pace 2.0D 180PS AWD auto**
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £37,910
Torque 318lb ft
Top speed 129mph
Fuel economy 54.3mpg