Why on earth, wonders Charlie Flindt, has Jaguar decided to jump on the SUV bandwagon? After time spent in the F-Pace, however, it all makes sense
When the word SUV is mentioned it is unlikely that Jaguar would spring to mind. However Charlie Flindt has set out to put the Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport through it’s paces and see if it lives up to it’s new SUV status.
For those who adopt a traditionalist view of cars, read Charlie Flindt’s review of the Jaguar XE R-Sport.
JAGUAR F-PACE R-SPORT
At first thought, it seems odd that Jaguar should jump onto the SUV bandwagon. It’s true that everyone from Bentley to Skoda is now on board but Jaguar has never been the sort of marque to follow the herd blindly. And it shares a letterhead/domain name/HQ with the most famous manufacturer of SUVs in the world. But you can’t blame the company, really. SUVs are the must-have cars at the moment and Jaguar has been on a roll for some years; I bet the initial “shall we/shan’t we?” meeting for the F-Pace ended with a shrug of the shoulders and the boss saying, “Why not?”
So, onto an existing base platform (already used in the XE and XF) goes a tall, estate-like body that shows exactly how to do a nice, restrained piece of styling. It’s almost bling-free, even if some of the wheel choices do venture hideously into Naffland. Most importantly, a quick glance at the front and you’ll spot it’s a Jaguar. The interior is the same. Those familiar with the marque will recognise the theme, right down to the rotary gear selector. There are one or two moments when the cabin feels as if it isn’t quite right: if you’re wide in the hip (shall we call it), the seat-belt slot is a bit of a search; and the raised rails on either side of the front of the centre console have all the luxury feel of a bit of sticky-back vinyl stretched over MDF.
Like all SUVs, the F-Pace is immensely practical to use on a day-to-day basis. Getting in and out is easy, it’s roomy and comfortable, and the high driving position gives a feeling of safety and security. It’s no surprise that this type of car is so popular and that there’s talk of repainting the white lines in the nation’s car parks to create wider bays. But the F-Pace does give a bit more. The body makes extensive use of lightweight materials, which keeps the centre of gravity low and the handling car-like. You can make it go properly, too, if you’re happy to work your way through the tiny buttons and complicated menus. Even my “R-Sport” version seemed a tad too keen to change up through the gears in default mode.
STILL FIELD READY?
Off roading? Ah, that old chestnut again. Mid Hampshire was still under the influence of Storm Arthur/Andy/Arse (or whatever name the Met Office has come up with to sensationalise the latest bit of wind and rain to bother us) and even my John Deere was claiming to have a headache and wouldn’t come out. One look at the F-Pace’s lateral-groove-free tyres and I decided, reluctantly, to take the press release’s hyperbolic claims of off-road ability as read. Which brings us back to the very definition of SUV. It’s not an off-roader. It can, but it doesn’t.
The F-Pace is a winning blend of SUV (which everyone wants) and Jaguar (ditto). They can’t build them fast enough up in Solihull and waiting lists are entering the realms of urban legend; if you are lucky enough to have a brand new one, you can flog it for a premium. Come to think of it, the Jaguar F-Pace makes perfect sense.
Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport 2.0d AWD
♦ Engine: 1,999cc 4-cyl diesel
♦ Power: 180PS
♦ Max speed: 129 mph
♦ Performance: 0 to 60: 8.2 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy: 53.3 mpg
♦ Insurance group: 29
♦ Price: £40,360
♦ Website: www.jaguarlandrover.com