Friday 21st July 2017
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Words: Tim Barnes-Clay
Featured in the May 2017 issue

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It is the company’s first ever sport utility vehicle (SUV), and the model is crucial for the big cat badge to remain competitive in a market flooded with premium SUVs.

The F-Pace is rather behind in joining the SUV shindig when you consider it is taking on more established competitors, such as the BMW X6, Porsche Macan and Mercedes-Benz GLC. However, unlike the machines produced by sibling firm Land Rover, it has been made with more of an athletic road-driving predisposition. And that puts a question mark over some of these rivals’ abilities from the off.

INTERIOR SPACE
None of the F-Pace’s key adversaries can equal the Jaguar when it comes to the interior. It has been produced to make you and the car feel in total harmony. The Jaguar has a high driving position and enough room for four-up to sit in real comfort. There is a range of storage areas, including large bottle holding door pockets and a big centrally-placed cubbyhole.

ON THE ROAD
I drove the automatic 2-litre diesel – in 180PS R-Sport guise. This trim level provides an assertive style with a sportier exterior look and sports seats. But it was the eight-speed automatic transmission that impressed me, with its near-seamless changes up and down the cogs. In fact, the UK’s winding rural roads showed me how capable the gearing is. The F-Pace never grapples with which ratio to choose – an issue some challengers have had with their gearboxes. The looping country roads I threaded the Jaguar through punished the F-Pace, but not once did it complain.

The car has a rear-wheel drive character most of the time, only delivering torque to the front wheels when the Jaguar feels it is needed. This means the SUV bonds to the road like superglue and the steering is sharp and well-weighted enough to encourage confident cornering. Indeed, the F-Pace always feels planted and unruffled whatever situation it is in. This includes off-tarmac situations, as I found out taking the latest Jaguar model up and down a wooded trail littered with stones. It should come as no surprise though that the SUV is this talented off-road. After all, it is built by the same business that puts together the Land Rover and Range Rover models – and they lead the 4x4 pack.

I liked the look of the F-Pace; loved its interior headroom and appreciated its big load area. I also enjoyed the way the Jaguar sucked up everything I threw at it. It is a comfortable cruiser on the straights, a sports car on the twisty bits and a proper off-roader – should the need ever arise. Basically, this is one unflappable machine that rides brilliantly – and looks the business. Truly, the introduction of the Jaguar F-Pace into the premium SUV market is an exciting prospect for anyone looking for a prestigious, luxury, all-wheel-drive car that is just a little left-field. The model is refreshingly out-of-the-ordinary for Jaguar and the stylish F-Pace is bound to be a talking-point for some time to come.

Reviewed by Motoring Journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay. Tweeting @carwriteups

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