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Jaguar F-Pace 3.0d V6 S AWD
List price £52,300
Target Price £52,300
Jaguar’s first ever SUV is big and well equipped. We find out if it retains the brand’s usual dynamic appeal
Porsche Macan S Diesel
List price £46,182
Target Price £46,182
The handling benchmark in the SUV class, but is the Macan a better buy than the new F-Pace?
Land Rover might be synonymous with SUVs, but its sister brand Jaguar only recently launched the first such car in its history – the F-Pace. Of all the F-Pace's rivals, it was the luxurious and keen-handling Porsche Macan that Jaguar studied most intently when developing its new car; the British brand hoped to match the Macan for driving fun, then trump it for practicality and value.
So is it mission accomplished for Jaguar? We’ve chosen arguably the most rounded, albeit the most expensive, F-Pace, the 3.0d V6 S, and pitched it against the Macan S Diesel to find out. Both have four-wheel drive and V6 diesel engines designed to combine everyday performance with efficiency, so it should be a close-fought contest.
What are they like to drive?
Although the F-Pace is slightly lighter and more powerful, the Macan is 0.2sec quicker to 60mph, completing the dash in 6.6sec. Were it not for our test Macan’s launch control, which improves acceleration and assists gearchanges from a standing start, it would have been even closer. In reality both cars feel brisk, offering plentiful acceleration from a standstill and through the gears.
The Macan’s engine is more refined: it is whisper quiet at idle and exceptionally smooth for a diesel on the move, highlighting what might otherwise be acceptable gruffness from the F-Pace. Each pulls strongly from low revs, but the F-Pace’s engine hits its stride earlier, at around 1400rpm, while the Porsche needs at least 2000rpm before it really picks up the pace.
Brisk yet smooth shifts are a hallmark of the Macan’s seven-speed automatic gearbox. The F-Pace’s eight-speed auto ’box changes gear more gently than the Macan’s in slow traffic, but it’s still snappy when accelerating hard.
The steering wheel-mounted shift paddles in each car respond swiftly when you want to take control. The Macan has a couple of urban irritants, though: the brakes bring you to a jarring halt if you aren’t super smooth when pressing the pedal, and once the engine stop-start system has re-engaged, you have to wait a moment before the car can pull away.
The F-Pace has the slightly comfier ride in town, although its advantage over the Macan would be greater on standard 20in wheels; our test car rode on huge, optional 22in wheels that add a hard edge over sharper bumps. The Macan bounces about a little more, but it was still acceptably composed on our test car’s optional air suspension.
The F-Pace has a more relaxed, loping gait on the motorway. It suffers from more engine, wind and road noise than the Macan, but you can cover plenty of high-speed miles in either car in comfort and reasonable isolation.
On country roads, the Macan is more focused, changing direction with sports car-like aggression. Body roll is well contained and there’s a huge amount of grip, too, so the Macan feels really tied-down when driven hard. Its heavier steering is accurate and slick, but it can feel a little bit stiff mid-corner.
This is where the F-Pace’s steering, which offers more weight variation, works best, communicating clearly what the front wheels are doing. The F-Pace’s body rolls more, but good front-end grip means you can still attack corners hard. Although the F-Pace isn’t as agile as the Macan, it is still swift and enjoyable.
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