BMW X3 VS Jaguar F-Pace
- Scorchingly fast
- Gives its rivals a run
- Terrific chassis
- Apple CarPlay price is extortion
- Some (not me) find the ride too hard
- Needs more visual aggro
- Great engines
- New interior
- Window switches relocated
- No plug-in hybrid
- Wireless charging standard only on SVR
- Safety tech could be more up-to-date
Big fast SUVs have long been a guilty pleasure of mine. My brain has been telling me for years, since the first time I drove one - the first-gen Audi SQ5 - that they're silly and wasteful and 'not my kind of car'.
The Europeans - and latterly, the Americans - seem to be playing to an audience of me, convincing my prejudiced head that my try-anything heart is right: over-engined, jacked-up, stiffly-sprung family wagons are as much fun as anything else.
The X3 M is BMW's first full-fat M version of the X3, a car that has never really fired the imagination until this third generation. First we got the very good X3 M40i, now we have a 375kW, twin-turbo straight-six screamer, the M Competition.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Jaguar has announced that by 2025 it will only make and sell electric vehicles. That’s less than four years away and means the F-Pace you’re thinking about buying could be the last Jaguar with an actual engine that you ever own. Heck, it could be the last car with an engine you ever own.
Let’s help you pick the right one then, because Jaguar’s just called last drinks.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
As much as I love the mental GLC63 - complete with V8 bellow - the X3 M is the one for drivers. While that's a silly thing to say on the surface - what 'driver' is going to buy an SUV? - this is the new reality. We love these things and they're not going away.
While it may not be quite as comfortable as any of its competition or have the V8 cachet of the Jag and the Merc, it still takes the fight to them in what is easily the roomiest and most practical in this niche part of the segment. And it's an enormous amount of fun.
You have plenty of choices in the mid-size fast SUV market - X3 M, GLC63, Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio - what's your choice?
The F-Pace has been gifted new styling, new engines and more practicality making it an even better SUV than it already was. You could seriously pick any of the grades and be happy with your purchase. Then there’s the question of the engine…
Jaguar says there’s a few more years left in the combustion engine yet, but we know exactly how many years – four, because the company has gone on the record announcing it will go fully electric by 2025. The question for you is – how will you ring out the end of an era – with a four-cylinder petrol, a six-cylinder turbo diesel, an inline turbo six petrol or a cracking V8?
The sweetspot in the range is the R-Dynamic SE 400, with just enough luxury and more than enough grunt.
The third-generation X3 is by far the best-looking and isn't as badly blighted by BMW's current oversized, hatchback-straining grilles. It's not small, no, but in the flesh, it looks fine.
The usual M accoutrements are present, with new front and rear bumpers, skirts and a whopping set of 21-inch alloys. It looks different and marginally more aggro than the M40i and just enough so a vaguely interested observer will notice.
A quick look at the rest of the similarly-sized hard-and-fast SUVs reveals a similar approach.
The seats add some serious excitement, they're a proper set of M seats, complete with the slightly naff light-up X3 M logos in the backrest. But it's predictably well-made, is very comfortable and is full of nice materials.
The very first F-Pace arrived in Australia in 2016 and even after all these years and the arrival of more rivals I still think it’s the most beautiful SUV in its class. The new one seems to look a lot like the old one, but the styling updates have kept it cool.
If you want to see instantly how the design of the F-Pace has evolved from the original to the new one, be sure to watch my video above.
Short story is, this new F-Pace has been given a pretty major styling overhaul inside and out.
Gone is the old F-Pace’s plastic beak. That sounds weird but the previous F-Pace’s bonnet stopped short of the grille and a nose cone had been fitted to cover the rest of the distance. Now the new bonnet meets a larger, wider grille and its flow from the windscreen down isn’t disturbed by a large join line.
Also more pleasing to the eyes is the badge on the grille. The snarling jaguar head is now larger and no longer mounted on a terrible looking large plastic plate. The plate was for the adaptive cruise control radar sensor, but by making the Jaguar badge bigger, the plate was able to be house in the badge itself.
The headlights are slimmer, and the tail-lights have a new design which looks futuristic, but I miss the styling of the previous ones and the way they dipped into the tailgate.
Inside, the cabin has been made over with a giant landscape screen, new chunky climate control dials, a new steering wheel and the rotary shifter has been replaced by a regular upright one which is still small and compact, with cricket ball stitching. Again, take a look at the video I’ve made to see the transformation for yourself.
While all F-Paces have a similar look, the SVR is the high-performance member of the family and stands out with its giant 22-inch wheels, a tough body kit, quad tailpipes, a fixed SVR rear wing, and bonnet and fender vents.
For this update the SVR has been given a new front bumper and larger cooling vents flanking the grille. But it’s more than just tough looks, the aerodynamics have been revised to decrease lift by 35 per cent, too.
What hasn’t changed are the dimensions. The F-Pace is a mid-sized SUV measuring 4747mm end to end, standing 1664mm tall and with the mirrors out is 2175mm wide. That’s not huge, but make sure it’ll fit in your garage.
This X3, if you need reminding, is bigger than BMW's first SAV (ugh), the X5. That means plenty of room up front, heaps of legroom for most in the back and enough room for five aboard.
Front seat passengers score a pair of cupholders with a cover and the centre rear armrest has two more for a total of four. Add to that bottle holders in each door and your beverage holding capabilities are pretty standard.
The boot starts at an impressive 550 litres, almost tripling to 1600 litres when you drop the 40/20/40 split fold seat. You get a good flat load space when you do that, too.
The F-Pace was always practical with a big 509-litre boot and great rear leg and head room for even me at 191cm tall, but the cabin re-design has added better storage and usability.
The door pockets are larger, there’s a covered area under the floating centre console and in a victory for common sense and practicality the window switches have been relocated from the window sills to the armrests.
This is along with a deep centre console storage area, and two cupholders in the front and another two in the rear fold-down armrest.
Parents will be happy to know that all F-Paces come with directional air vents in the second row as well. And there are ISOFIX outboard child-seat anchors and three top-tether restraints, too.
Price and features
For $157,900, before on-road costs, you may think this car should be absolutely loaded with stuff. And it is. Whether that's enough is up to you, but the price is about right for its segment.
It's worth remembering we only get the up-spec Competition version, BMW saw no point in offering the 'normal' version nobody was going to buy.
For your cash you get 21-inch alloys, multi-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, electronic damper control, digital instrument cluster (not the new 'Live Cockpit'), sat nav, auto high beam, auto LED headlights, launch control, leather seats and steering wheel, electric front seats, head-up display, auto parking, power everything, auto wipers, huge panorama sunroof and a tyre repair kit.
The big central screen features BMW's iDrive, controlled by either the rotary dial or via touchscreen. It's a belter of a system and I reckon it's still the best, although you have to pay for Apple CarPlay - this remains controversial and I wonder how long the company will persist.
There’s a Jaguar F-Pace for every budget as long as your budget is somewhere in between $80K and $150K. That’s quite a large range in price.
Now, I’m about to take you through the grade names and I need to warn you that it’s going to be messy and confusing a little bit like white water rafting, but not as wet. Life jacket on?
There are four grades: the S, SE, HSE and top-of-the-range SVR.
They all come standard with the R-Dynamic pack.
There are four engines: the P250, D300, P400 and P550. I’ll explain what this means in the engine section down below, but all you need to know is 'D' stands for diesel and 'P' for petrol and the higher the number the more grunt it has.
The S grade only comes with the P250. The SE comes with a choice of P250, D300 or P400. The HSE only comes with the P400 and the SVR has exclusive rights to the P550.
Following all this? Great.
So, the entry grade is officially called the R-Dynamic S P250 and it lists for $76,244 (all prices listed are MSRP - before on-road costs). Above this is the R-Dynamic SE P250 and it lists for $80,854, then there’s the R-Dynamic SE D300 for $96,194 and the R-Dynamic SE P400 for $98,654.
Almost there, you’re doing super.
The R-Dynamic HSE P400 lists for $110,404 and at the top is King F-Pace – the SVR with the P550 listing for $142,294.
There you are, wasn’t so bad was it?
Coming standard from the base grade up is the new 11.4-inch touchscreen, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, there’s keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone climate, power adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, LED headlights and tail-lights, and an auto tailgate.
The entry-level S and the SE above it come with a six-speaker stereo, but as you step into the HSE and SVR more standard features appear such as a 13-speaker Meridian sound system, plus heated and ventilated front seats. A fully digital instrument cluster is standard on all grades apart from the entry S.
The options list is extensive and includes a head-up display ($1960), wireless charging ($455), and an Activity Key ($403) which looks like an iWatch that locks and unlocks the F-Pace.
Paint prices? Narvik Black and Fuji White are standard at no extra cost for the S, SE and HSE. The SVR has its own standard palette and includes Santorini Black, Yulonhg White, Firenze Red, Bluefire Blue and Hakuba Silver. If you don’t have the SVR but want these colours it’ll be $1890, thank you.
Engine & trans
The X3 M arrives from the US with a shiny new version of BMW's modular six-cylinder performance engine. While the M Performance M40i has a single turbo (B58) straight six, one tiny change to the name - from B58 to S58 - means a heck of a lot.
The S58 takes the same fundamental formula, bolts in two new single-scroll turbos, throws in forged conrods and a few other changes to boost the power to 375kW (500 horsepower) and 600Nm.
That torque figure is available across a nice wide 3350 revs, between 2600rpm and 5950rpm.
Getting all that to the wheels is the M version of BMW's all-wheel drive system xDrive and an active rear differential. The near-ubiquitous eight-speed ZF brokers the connection between that system and the flywheel and it's all impossibly smooth and feels bulletproof.
Jaguar’s engine names sound like forms you have to fill in when you apply for a home loan.
The P250 is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine making 184kW and 365Nm; the D300 is a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel producing 221kW and 650Nm; while the P400 is a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo petrol with outputs of 294kW and 550Nm.
The P550 is a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 producing a colossal 405kW and 700Nm.
The SE grade gives you the choice of the P250, D300 and P400, while the S only comes with the P250 and the SVR of course is powered only by the P550.
The D300 and D400 are new engines, both are straight sixes and replace the V6 engines in the old F-Pace. Superb engines, they are also found in the Defender and Range Rover.
Jaguar calls the D300 and P400 mild hybrids, but don’t be misled by the terminology. These engines are not hybrids in the sense that an electric motor is working to drive the wheels along with a combustion engine. Instead, a mild hybrid uses a 48-volt electrical system to help take the load off the engine by helping it start and running the electronics such as climate control. And yes, it does help save fuel, but not stacks.
There’s plenty of grunt from all these engines no matter which you choose, they all have eight-speed automatics and all-wheel drive.
You are also very likely looking at the last combustion engines to go into an F-Pace. See Jaguar has announced that it will only sell electric vehicles beyond 2025.
Four years and that’s it. Choose wisely.
The reality, of course, is different but not unexpectedly so - a week in my hands in the suburbs and a cobweb-clearing early morning run delivered a 14.1L/100km average. Again, not bad given the kind grunt that's on tap.
It doesn’t make sense that Jaguar has announced that it will be going all electric by 2025 yet doesn’t offer a plug-in hybrid in its Australian line-up, especially when there is one available overseas.
Jaguar says it doesn’t make sense either, but by that they mean business sense, in bringing one to Australia.
So, for fuel economy I’m marking the F-Pace down. Yes, the D300 and P400 use clever mild-hybrid tech, but it doesn’t go far enough to reducing fuel use.
So the fuel consumptions, then. The official fuel consumption for the petrol P250 is 7.8L/100km, the diesel D300 will use 7.0L/100km, the P400 is stated to sip 8.7L/100km and the P550 V8 petrol will drink 11.7L/100km. Those figures are "combined cycle" numbers, after a combination of open and urban driving.
One of the things I love about BMW is the company's ability to produce a car that on one hand is so normal and competent for the every day but also produce a version that is completely doolally.
The fine folk at M obviously involve themselves from day one so that when they get a finished car they can get cracking on making it properly fast. Obviously, quite a bit has to change for that to happen.
The X3 M is very stiff. Pop the bonnet and you'll see a piece of whatever the metal equivalent of four-by-two keeping the two sides of the car apart.
This is something M does whenever it gets a vanilla BMW, as it has with the M2 and outgoing M3 and M4 pair. To name three. The difference from the driver's seat, when compared to, say, the M40i, is immediate.
The steering is super-responsive, the front of the car reacting incredibly quickly given the X3 M's two-tonne weight.
Even in Comfort mode, the X3 M's ride is pretty firm. That doesn't bother me especially, nor my wife, who has a keen sense of ride quality. It never really falls over the line of being uncomfortable but it's worth knowing if you're considering this and you have to carry passengers.
If you drive around town in either M1 or M2 (in the factory settings at least), you're mad - the suspension becomes very hard and the steering too heavy. In fact, the steering in its Super Sport setting is just too heavy and uncooperative.
Cheerfully belting the 7200rpm redline at every upshift, barking between gears and delivering torque the way a hungry Labrador delivers a headbutt if you get in between it and food, the straight-six is glorious.
The 4.1-second sprint from 0-100km/h is only part of the story. Not many cars can cover ground so quickly and fewer still SUVs of this size and weight can do it with such precision.
When you turn the wheel on the X3 M, the front goes where you want it, instantly. All that under-bonnet bracing prevents the front flexing and shimmying, which is the enemy of going fast. So that sorts out getting into the corner. The best thing is you can push through corners and slingshot out the other side, riding that huge torque slab, the rear wheels doing most of the work with the occasional wriggle to keep you smiling.
A good chunk of the applause goes to the way the xDrive all-wheel drive system and its 'M Active' diff at the rear work together in Sport+ mode.
As colleague Steve Corby discovered at this car's clay-pan launch, the front wheels aren't doing much of the driving when you've turned it all up to 11 in '4WD Sport'.
When the road goes from straight to twisty, the excellent brakes come in to play, hauling the car down from big speeds without complaint. Even better is that in normal driving, they're not grabby and the pedal always lets you know what shape you're in.
My two test cars at the Australian launch of the new F-Pace were the R-Dynamic SE P400 and the R-Dynamic S P250. Both were fitted with the road noise cancellation system which comes with the optional $1560 Meridian stereo and reduces the level of road noise coming into the cabin.
Which would I rather? Look, I’d be fibbing if I didn’t say the SE P400 with its smooth inline six that has seemingly endless shove, but it’s $20K more than the S P250 and neither engine is low on grunt and both handle and ride almost identically.
That ride has been improved in this new F-Pace with the rear suspension being retuned so that it’s not so firm.
Steering is still on the sharp side, but body control feels better and more composed in this updated F-Pace.
On the twisty and quick country roads I tested the S P250 and SE 400, both performed superbly, with responsive engines, great handling, and serene cabins (thanks to the help of the noise cancelling tech).
The second part of the test was driving both in city traffic for the best part of an hour each which isn’t pleasant in any car. The now wider F-Pace seats were comfortable and supportive, however, the transmission seamlessly swapped gears and even rolling on 22-inch wheels in the SE and 20-inch alloys in the S the ride was excellent.
The X3 M rolls out the door of BMW's North Carolina factory with six airbags, stability and traction controls, front and rear parking sensors, around view camera (including reversing camera), forward and reverse AEB, blind spot sensor, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, reverse cross traffic alert, speed limit recognition and tyre pressure monitoring.
There are also two ISOFIX points and three top-tether restraints.
The X3 scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in 2017.
The F-Pace scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2017. Coming standard is advanced safety tech such as forward auto emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot assist, lane keeping assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.
This tech is great, but in the five years since the F-Pace first arrived safety equipment has moved on even further. So, while the AEB can detect pedestrians, it’s not designed to work for cyclists, there’s no reverse AEB, nor evasive manoeuvre systems, nor a centre airbag. All are items which weren’t common in 2017 but are now on most 2021 five-star rated cars.
BMW offers a segment standard, but increasingly mean-looking, three years/unlimited kilometre warranty. It's not just BMW, though, it's all of the premium Germans. You do get three years roadside assist into the bargain and you can pay to extend the warranty, too.
You can pre-pay your servicing, with a five-year/80,000km Basic package for $3685. If you think you're going to give your X3 M a proper walloping you can opt for the the 'Plus Package'. For a not-inconsiderable $8173.
BMW will cover your brake pads and rotors for the same period as the Basic package.
Service intervals are variable because, as ever, BMWs tell you when they need a trip to the dealer.
At the launch of the new F-Pace Jaguar announced that all of its vehicles would be covered by a five-year unlimited/kilometre warranty, a step up from the three-year coverage it used to offer.
Service intervals? What are they? The F-Pace will tell you when it needs maintenance. But you should sign up for a five-year service plan which costs $1950 for the P250 engine, $2650 for the D300, $2250 for the P400 and $3750 for the P550.