Acura RDX and Jaguar F-Pace both do lux­ury very well.

When both the Acura RDX and Jaguar F-Pace do lux­ury very well, just how much does the badge mat­ter?

Calgary Sun - Autonet - - NEWSYOUR CORNER WRENCH - Brian Harper and nick Tra­gia­nis driv­

Wel­come to Dude Said, Punk Said, a spe­cial se­ries de­voted to skew­er­ing the au­to­mo­tive ram­blings of young punk Nick Tra­gia­nis with the in­fi­nite wis­dom of old dude Brian Harper. This week, the duo see if Acura’s all-new RDX can out-luxe the Jaguar F-Pace.

Brian Harper: As much as I have spent many years en­joy­ing the tasty and sporty au­to­mo­tive morsels that in­habit the com­pact lux­ury car seg­ment — think Audi A4, BMW 3 Se­ries, Cadil­lac ATS, and a dearly de­parted per­sonal favourite, the In­finiti G37, among many oth­ers — they’re los­ing the ap­proval of con­sumers, who are mi­grat­ing to com­pact lux­ury crossovers in in­creas­ing num­bers. And, ad­mit­tedly, many of the 15 or so mod­els oc­cu­py­ing this seg­ment are do­ing a fair job of du­pli­cat­ing many of their car siblings’ bet­ter at­tributes, just in wagon-styled, jacked-up form.

Which brings us to two of the bet­ter ex­am­ples, Jaguar’s 2018 F-Pace (in 25t Pres­tige trim) and the very new, third-gen­er­a­tion 2019 Acura RDX (in top-line Plat­inum Elite trim). The F-Pace has been out for a lit­tle more than two years and within months of its de­but be­came the Bri­tish au­tomaker’s best-sell­ing model. The pre­vi­ous RDX has done very well for Honda’s up­scale brand, also es­tab­lish­ing it­self as a top seller. So, young Nick, a cou­ple of ques­tions for you: Is the 2019 RDX sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter than its pre­de­ces­sor, and is it suf­fi­ciently sporty and lux­u­ri­ous enough to be thought of as equal to the Euro brands — or at least, the F-Pace?

nick Tra­gia­nis: It’s cer­tainly sporty enough. For 2019, the RDX ditches the V6 and goes back to a turbo-four. This time, it’s a 2.0-litre pump­ing out 272 horse­power and 280 pound-feet of torque. That’s sent to all four wheels through a 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Per­son­ally, I don’t miss the V6 and six-speed auto from the pre­vi­ous RDX; the new pow­er­train is smooth and quite perky, and the trans­mis­sion op­er­ates al­most in­vis­i­bly. Even the growl the en­gine makes sounds a bit Teu­tonic, too, though it’s likely syn­the­sized.

The F-Pace, on the other hand, falls a bit short. As equipped, the Jag’s 2.0-L turbo-four puts out 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque and is hooked up to an eight-speed au­to­matic. It’s smooth enough, de­liv­ers plenty of scoot, and re­turns ex­cel­lent fuel econ­omy num­bers; I av­er­aged 9.7 L/100 kilo­me­tres thanks to plenty of high­way mileage. But the en­gine isn’t well matched to the F-Pace’s mass. Some­thing tells me the up-level, 296-hp turbo-four should be the base en­gine.

BH: I agree. The last F-Pace I drove was fit­ted with the 340-hp, su­per­charged 3.0-L V6, and it had plenty of zip. Drop­ping 100 horse­power on a crossover weigh­ing 1,760 kilo­grams — which, ad­mit­tedly, is fairly light for a ve­hi­cle of its size — does tend to dull things, though 6.8 sec­onds to hit 100 km/h from zero isn’t ex­actly slug­gish. But ku­dos to Jaguar for of­fer­ing a com­pre­hen­sive choice of pow­er­trains, ev­ery­thing from a four-cylin­der tur­bod­iesel, the two gas turbo-four engines, boosted V6s in 340- and 380hp con­fig­u­ra­tions, and the scream­ing, 550-hp su­per­charged V8 for the over­the-top SVR ver­sion.

The down­side is that the more pow­er­ful the en­gine, the higher the cost, and the F-Pace we tested — at $63,600 be­fore PDI and taxes — was al­ready over $8,000 more than the RDX.

Now, the RDX’s en­gine choices be­gin and end with the new tur­bocharged 2.0L. That said, it is very well suited to the re­designed crossover, with plenty of power to tap; it goes to 100 km/h from rest in just six sec­onds. Yet I was less than en­thused about the 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Smooth for the most part, it could stum­ble or surge if one got on and off the gas too quickly. And re­ally, do we need 10 for­ward gears in any ve­hi­cle short of a long-haul rig? It’s start­ing to get ridicu­lous.

What about styling? The F-Pace is clean yet con­ser­va­tive; the RDX is bolder and edgier, es­pe­cially when com­pared with its pre­de­ces­sor. Too much?

nT: Nah, I don’t think it’s too much. Cer­tainly edgier, but the RDX isn’t as over-styled as some of its other com­peti­tors — here’s look­ing at you, Lexus. Yes, the grille is huge, and yes, the RDX as a whole has the same ba­sic shape as any other crossover out there. But com­pared with the pre­vi­ous RDX’s plain-Jane styling, the new model is re­fresh­ing. One stick­ing point, though: maybe it’s just me, but I’m not big on the wheels. There’s some­thing about the dark­ish grey fin­ish that makes the wheels look per­ma­nently dirty and coated in brake dust.

In­side, the RDX im­presses with a boat­load of tech. Chief among the tech bits is Acura’s new, so-called True Touch­pad in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. Rather than us­ing a tra­di­tional knob or touch screen, in­fo­tain­ment is han­dled via a touch­pad on the cen­tre stack. It’s a novel sys­tem; es­sen­tially, any­where you touch on the touch­pad di­rectly cor­re­lates to the touch screen, so in the­ory, there shouldn’t be much swip­ing and dis­trac­tions. It takes a bit of time to mas­ter, but if you’ve ever used a track pad on a lap­top, you’ll be fine.

The rest of the RDX’s cabin is be­fit­ting of its price tag. The leather feels ex­cel­lent, the seats are supremely com­fort­able, wind and road noise are al­most non-ex­is­tent, vis­i­bil­ity is great, and ev­ery­thing is well marked and where it needs to be. A few gripes, though: while the 10.2-inch dis­play on the dash is oth­er­wise sharp, the screen is re­mark­ably low-res when the backup and 360-de­gree cam­eras are ac­ti­vated. The push-but­ton shifter also takes some get­ting used to, and the pi­anoblack fin­ish on the cen­tre con­sole wasn’t a smart call. You’ll be do­ing a lot of dust­ing.

BH: Oh, wah! That’s just your neat­f­reak side show­ing. Acura got way more things right than wrong with the RDX’s cabin setup. Most every­body I know who’s driven the F-Pace is dis­ap­pointed by how unin­spired its in­te­rior is. OK, ex­pect­ing Ye Olde Eng­land in the form of Con­nolly leather, wool car­pet­ing and highly pol­ished ma­hogany trim is push­ing it — though they were once a hall­mark of Jaguar — but the stan­dard dash lay­out, though func­tional, is bor­ingly con­ven­tional. On the plus side, the 10-way power and heated front seats did prove to be ex­ceed­ingly com­fort­able. And the tester came with the op­tional ($3,320) Tech­nol­ogy pack­age, which added such niceties as a larger TFT in­stru­ment clus­ter, a lovely Merid­ian sur­round-sound sys­tem, nav­i­ga­tion and InControl Pro Ser­vices (which en­hances the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem with real-time traf­fic reports, etc.). Worth the coin, in my book.

But let’s get down to value for money, shall we? Ex­cept for the ca­chet that comes with the Jaguar name — as op­posed to say­ing “I have an Acura in my garage” — the RDX is the bet­ter deal. Newer, sharper styled, quicker (un­less you pay more for one of the F-Pace’s op­tional engines), greater cargo vol­ume (835 L vs. 650) and ap­pre­cia­bly less ex­pen­sive, the RDX is a force to be reck­oned with among the play­ers in the pre­mium com­pact crossover seg­ment. I do like the F-Pace, more so with the V6. I just like the RDX more.

nT: There’s no wrong choice. The F-Pace does many things well. It’s quiet, com­posed and smooth on the road, it de­liv­ers ex­cel­lent fuel econ­omy and it’s lux­u­ri­ous enough. But yes, the prob­lem is value; the RDX matches the F-Pace on ev­ery­thing, and leaves you with a spare $10,000 in your bank ac­count.

Well, maybe not ev­ery­thing. There’s ca­chet and choice. If you don’t mind say­ing “I drive an Acura,” and if a tur­bocharger and four cylin­ders are plenty, the RDX is the clear win­ner here.

Nick Tra­gia­Nis

2019 Acura RDX (left) vs. 2018 Jaguar F-Pace (right).

BriaN Harper

2019 Acura RDX.

Nick Tra­gia­Nis

2018 Jaguar F-Pace.

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