Big and brash, this special edition SUV performed well in the face of extreme weather, says Charlie Flindt, proving that it is still a force to be reckoned with
The new Jaguar F-Pace 300 Sport is big and brash, but Charlie Flindt finds that it is still a force to be reckoned with.
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JAGUAR F-PACE 300 SPORT
If you’re a keen player of A34 JLR Bingo – it’s like pub cricket of old, but you play it on the A34 going north and get points for different Jaguar Land Rover products pouring south on the car transporters – you might have spotted a tiny variation in the hordes of F-Paces destined for the docks: a flash of golden-snitch yellow. It’ll be a new F-Pace 300 Sport loaded up among the standard F-Paces – though ‘standard’ is a bit harsh for an SUV that was a little late on the scene but now sells in record numbers.
The yellow bits are easier to find once the 300 Sport is in the farmyard: there are badges front and back (matching the freshly flowering forsythia in the shrubbery) and the cabin features yellow stitching on the dashboard console and seats. It’s tasteful, but only just.
The first thing I did once I got in was wind the seat up as high as possible to minimise the blind spot produced by the thick front door pillars and the huge door mirrors. Once that’s done, the view forward is excellent but, as is traditional in the modern big SUV, a bit more of a challenge from 90 degrees to 270 degrees.
We were testing the diesel version of the Sport – the petrol has the same power with far less torque – and it makes a fantastic noise on start-up, burbling contentedly. The once-innovative rotary gear selector rises suggestively from the centre console and actually looks relatively simple these days, compared with some modern systems.
The F-Pace’s road manners were varied. On the motorway, the engine became almost silent and wind noise took over. It didn’t help that we were heading straight into Storm Jorge (they’ve got a sense of humour at the Spanish Met Office), so it was probably unfair to criticise the Jaguar’s slight feeling of instability at speed. The super-low rolling resistance tyres – vital for keeping those all-important emission levels down – were surprisingly quiet, too.
A-roads were occasionally a struggle. The suspension is brilliant at handling potholes, thank goodness, but more routine undulations came across as slightly choppy, probably as a result of the ‘sport’ settings. Then there’s the slight disconnect between right foot and acceleration. Opportunities to pass a tractor/trailer combo are few and far between these days, so the long pause between the dramatic sweep onto the right-hand side of the road and the stunning application of power was unexpected and slightly embarrassing.
B-roads were a hoot. Switch to the flappy paddles, keep the revs up and enjoy the twists and turns. But beware the F-Pace’s sheer size. I did go back through the records to see if the F-Pace had got bigger since we last tested it, but no such files existed. It just felt bigger but I couldn’t work out why. Was it the huge wheels or the unsightly white paintwork? Is it shown up by the latest smaller SUVs, which are now the go-to choices?
It’s big and brash, and the F-Pace 300 Sport is still a force to be reckoned with – even while sardined on a transporter on the A34.
JAGUAR F-PACE 300 SPORT
♦ Engine: 2,993cc V6 diesel
♦ Max power: 300ps
♦ Max speed: 150mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 6.4 seconds
♦ Fuel economy: 37.9 to 35.2mpg
♦ Insurance group: 42
♦ Price: £54,990