Pace and poise, at a price
VALUE The diesel is the cheapest ticket to an F-Pace, the Prestige 20d starting at almost $10,000 less than the supercharged 3.0-litre petrol version. Our test car was the R-Sport, which is roughly $6000 more and adds a bodkyit, sports seats and bigger wheels to the standard fare of powered tailgate, real leather upholstery, satnav, parking sensors and good quality Meridian audio. The options list is long and expensive, though. Our car came with an eye-watering $27,000 worth of extras. Capped price service is reasonable at $1100-$1750 over five years. COMFORT The massive 22-inch wheels on our test car did little for comfort around town, where the ride was a bit jittery over pockmarked surfaces. But beyond the burbs the Jaguar’s balance between comfort and cornering prowess is among the best we’ve encountered. The seats are supportive over longer hauls, if a little cosy and lacking headroom in the rear, thanks to the raked profile. SAFETY The F-Pace hasn’t been crash- tested yet but the recently released XF and XE sedans each scored five stars in European testing. Given it shares underpinnings with them, expect maximum marks. There are six airbags, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning, but lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring and reversing traffic alerts are options on all models. A top-spec Mazda CX-5 has better active safety. DRIVING The F-Pace genuinely puts the sport in sport utility vehicle. Even the diesel is genuinely fun to drive along a winding country road. The steering is sharp, with just the right amount of feel, and cornering grip is truly impressive. You can feel it lean through bends but it has impressive balance and rarely gets flustered by mid-corner bumps. It’s much lighter than its main rivals and it shows. In sports mode, the eight-speed auto shifts decisively and keeps the power and torque on tap coming out of the corners. Fuel economy is a claimed 5.3L/100km — we used about 8L/100km on a mix of freeway, country roads and city driving. ALTERNATIVES More expensive but has considerably more power and torque from its larger engine. Matches the F-Pace’s sporty dynamics. Perennial family favourite shares the F-Pace’s ability through the bends, although the ride isn’t as comfortable and the cabin not as fresh-looking. More power and torque, though. Big, comfortable cabin with excellent ergonomics and classy finishes. Engine is a little noisy and doesn’t feel as planted on the open road. VERDICT It’s easy to fall in love with the FPace. It looks great and drives like a dream. But Jaguar is stretching the friendship by charging big dollars for safety equipment and technology standard on far cheaper vehicles.