Jaguar F-Pace First Drive: The Dynamic SUV

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Hopefully by now, you would have had a chance to read my thoughts on the new Range Rover Velar, an SUV that wafts as impressively as it looks. Seeing as a Jaguar F-Pace was sat beside it and that’s a car I’ve also been keen to try, I thought it was the natural choice to drive next.

Putting The ‘Sport’ In SUV

Although SUV stands for ‘Sport Utility Vehicle’, not all of them live up to that promise. There is so such problem in the F-Pace though, particularly as this one is the R-Sport model. Priced from £37,320 it gives buyers features such as an R-Sport bodykit, 19″ alloys wheels, leather sport seats, dual tailpipes with 75mm finishers, metal scuffplates with R-Sport branding and sports pedals.

Jaguar F-Pace First Drive

This is on top of other features such as hill launch assist, trailer stability assist, Bluetooth, DAB radio, autonomous emergency braking, JaguarDrive control, and bi-xenon headlights with daytime running lights. The model tested did have a plethora of options fitted though, so it was pushing a wallet-busting £64,572, meaning it wasn’t too far behind the Velar I had tested a few moments ago.

Jaguar F-Pace First Drive
It’s far from sitting in a bin bag, but it does feel like a comedown after being in a Velar

Sadly though, the inside is noticeably not as premium as the Velar, although it’s not like you’re sitting in a bin bag. The cabin of the F-Pace is a nice place to be in its own right, but it’s just unfortunate for the Jag that I had been spoilt by the luxury of the Velar beforehand. There is still a fair amount of leather and tech of course, but you will find harder plastics on the inside and overall the finish isn’t quite there, but to be fair, this is a cheaper car. Plus, you’ll soon find out that this doesn’t really bother me.

The Driver’s Choice

The Velar is an SUV that you’d rather be chauffeured in, whereas the F-Pace is most definitely an SUV to be driven. The model tested is fitted with a four cylinder 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol that produces 247bhp with 365Nm of torque. Like the Velar, the engine is mated to an 8-speed auto, which helps the car get to a top speed of 135mph. The 0-60 time is a bit quicker though – 6.4 seconds compared to the Velar’s 6.8. Naturally, the mpg varies; whereas the 2.0 litre turbo diesel in the Velar offers 49.7mpg, the 2.0 litre turbo in the petrol falls to 38.2mpg.

The performance may be similar, but as soon as you get the F-Pace on the road, it’s clear to see this has a different setup. The steering feels heavier, it corners flatter and on the whole it’s simply more dynamic. It’s actually a rather fun car to drive, more fun than I was expecting if I’m going to be honest. The model tested had the bigger 20″ alloys, but the ride was still compliant and composed.

Jaguar F-Pace First Drive

Sure, it’s firmer than the air suspension-aided Velar, but it’s far from uncomfortable, although I’m not sure I’d want to have any bigger alloys than the 20 inch rims, as I’ve heard this spoils the ride – and also driving dynamics – of the F-Pace. The performance from the engine is responsive and it’s got a nice eagerness to it, meaning that it’s very easy to make decent progress. The auto performs just as well as it did in the Velar and it has no real complaints from me.

An area where it really shines is the driving dynamics. Through the corners it’s nice and flat, with plenty of grip on offer thanks to the all-wheel drive system. It’s lighter car too, and you feel the benefit in the corners as it feels nimble and surefooted for an SUV. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the F-Pace, and I have to say I was delighted by the way in which it drove.

Jaguar F-Pace First Drive

Yes, the Velar is a nicer place to be and it’s a better companion for eating up the miles in extreme comfort, but the F-Pace is the one for those who want to enjoy the sensation of driving. Like the Velar, you have a choice of driving modes, but in the case of the R-Sport, you’d probably want to leave it in Dynamic, as this is where the car offers up the most fun – and performance of course.

Complete Package?

There is much more to the F-Pace than fantastic driving dynamics, although that is definitely one of the car’s strongest points. Looks are subjective of course, but the F-Pace, to me, is one of the best looking SUVs on the market and I’m yet to see one in a colour that doesn’t suit. There is also a good amount of kit and technology, there’s plenty of room inside, plus it’s still able to do proper off-roading if required – unlikely I know. The car is also as safe as houses, and has been awarded five stars by Euro NCAP.

Jaguar F-Pace First Drive

If you buy an R-Sport at its base price of £37,320 as opposed to this model’s swollen £64,572 price, then you’re looking at a competent SUV that offers a proposition that’s almost as attractive as the car itself. Plus, if you need more performance you can get either a 3.0 litre V6 turbocharged diesel or a 3.0 litre supercharged V6 petrol, which can offer respective power outputs of 297bhp or 375bhp.

The SUV market is indeed a competitive segment of the market, but the Jaguar F-Pace should be high up on your list if you’re looking for a premium model that’s able to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Jaguar F-Pace First Drive

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