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Jaguar F-Pace 2016 review

Jaguar aims to claw its share of the upper-end SUV action with its first stylish and sporty wagon, writes John Carey.

Jaguar aims to claw its share of the upper-end SUV action with its first stylish and sporty wagon, writes John Carey.

It's everything the E-Type wasn't, yet Jaguar's new SUV will be the most popular model the company has ever built.

So says design director, Ian Callum. "I think it's going to be the best-selling Jaguar ever."

The F-Pace, which goes on sale in Australia in July priced from $74,340, is high, wide and roomy. And it's Jaguar's first shot at claiming a slice of the SUV-boom action.

"The world is moving to these sorts of vehicle," says Callum, even though their size and shape aren't good for efficiency. "So there's a whole issue of: ‘Is it the right car for the world at this time?'"

"But, you know, at the end of the day, customers decide," he says. "And it was very clear to us when we asked around the world, particularly in China and the US, that this is what people wanted. So we produced it."

The Jaguar faces established models from makers who moved earlier to exploit the trend; Audi Q5BMW X3 (and X4), Mercedes-Benz GLCLexus NXPorsche Macan and Volvo XC60. But it has the right stuff to take them all on.

Jaguar's freshest models are mostly delightful to drive.

In character, the F-Pace is closest to the Macan. Like Porsche, Jaguar chose to put the emphasis on stylish looks and sporty driving.

The exterior incorporates design elements borrowed from the F-Type sports car — the shape of the tail-lights is the obvious example — as well as the more recent XE and XF sedans. Much of the driving technology in the F-Pace is also used in other Jaguars.

The list includes the SUV's four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel enginesauto transmissionall-wheel-drive setup and some suspension parts. Nothing wrong with this; Jaguar's freshest models are mostly delightful to drive.

The body is made mainly from aluminium. Jaguar has made itself one of the leaders in this field, for instance pioneering the development of special alloys using recycled aluminium. But despite the widespread use of a metal renowned for being lighter than steel, the various models aren't especially light.

For the F-Pace's introduction to international media, Jaguar chose Montenegro. This small Balkan country, part of what used to be Yugoslavia, has spectacular traverses by roads that range from awesome to awful. Some are so poorly maintained they make an Australian feel right at home.

Handling and ride comfort — at least in the high-end six-cylinder models Jaguar brought to Montenegro — are clearly a cut above class average.

The F-Pace has superb steering and strong brakes. Its suspension deals very well with bumps and bends alike.

Engine options are a 2.0-litre turbo diesel four (132kW), 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 (221kW) and high-tuned versions of the company's supercharged 3.0-litre petrol V6 (250kW and 280kW).

All are teamed with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive (there will be rear-drive F-Paces in some other markets). Most Australian buyers will choose the diesel.

Jaguar will produce only 2000 examples, fitted with every option in the book

CarsGuide sampled the V6 turbo diesel and the high-power supercharged petrol V6.

Both are powerful, smooth and satisfying to drive. Both made overtaking slow-moving Montenegrins — which is most of them — very easy.

The interior is spacious, with a roomier rear seat than its competitors. The large 650L cargo compartment is also class-leading, Jaguar claims. Upfront, the F-Pace's high and wide centre console helps create a snug, car-like ambience for driver and passenger. Maybe a little too snug for those with long legs.

The F-Pace's premium multimedia system features a wide 10.2-inch touchscreen, though not all of its tricks — such as Google Earth route display when using satnav and the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot — will work in Australia at the time of launch.

The instrument panel uses the same basic tiered layout as seen in Jaguar's sedans. If the F-Pace has a weakness relative to the competition, it's that design and quality in this area aren't a match for the Germans.

But there's nothing important missing from the F-Pace's list of standard safety equipment. It's the first Jaguar to include pedestrian detection in its autonomous emergency braking tech. The F-Pace will slam on its brakes for people as well as parked cars when there's the danger of a collision.

Pricing is fairly competitive. The cheapest F-Pace will be the $74,340 four-cylinder turbo diesel 20d in basic Prestige equipment grade. Prices rise from this point through the more powerful engine options and the more highly equipped R-Sport, Portfolio and S grades, topping out with the $103,420 S, packing the 280kW supercharged V6.

Temporarily, however, the most expensive F-Pace models will be the First Edition versions. Jaguar will produce only 2000 examples, fitted with every option in the book, plus special 22-inch wheels and in a choice of two custom paint colours (including the Caesium Blue seen in the photographs).

They will sell on a first-come, first-served basis. Australian prices will be $117,210 for a First Edition with the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel and $120,700 with the supercharged V6.

Does the F-Pace have what it takes to challenge the Q5, X3 and GLC? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Jaguar F-Pace pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

Based on 47 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

20D Prestige 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $44,879 – 59,950 2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 20D Prestige Pricing and Specs
20D R-Sport 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $42,888 – 54,990 2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 20D R-Sport Pricing and Specs
30D First Edition 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $72,700 – 91,960 2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 30D First Edition Pricing and Specs
30D Portfolio 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $56,600 – 71,610 2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 30D Portfolio Pricing and Specs