Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Jaguar F-Pace diesel with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

Finally, there is a Jaguar that can tow.

Jaguar Australia had never given the go-ahead for factory towbars on any of its models — until the F-Pace, a landmark car in many ways. The must-have SUV has two turbo diesel engines providing abundant torque and two-tonne-plus tow rating in Australia.

Inspired by the F-Type sports car, it could surely crack along on a twisty road but it has a much more important job with families. And that includes towing.

"People will be towing with it, that is one of its jobs," says Jaguar Australia managing director Matthew Wiesner.

The F-Pace's towing role was established very early.

Jaguar Australia already has a queue of people who want an F-Pace.

"We sketched it with a trailer on the back during the design phase," says design director Ian Callum. "What was on the trailer? An F-Type GT3 racing car, of course. It's a Jaguar!"

The F-Pace was always intended to be a roomy five-seater rather than a cramped seven-seater bus. "We knew we had to do something different. The size is part of it," he says.

For Australia, the engines are a base 2.0-litre from $73,430 and a punchier 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 from $84,554. Towing should not be an issue with outputs of 430Nm and 700Nm respectively, while fuel economy is claimed to be as frugal as 5.3L/100km.

The F-Pace has a smooth eight-speed auto, a "crawl" function called Adaptive Surface Control and reasonable standard equipment. However, you have to pay more, sometimes a lot more, for gear that's standard on German rivals.

Jaguar Australia already has a queue of people who want an F-Pace and is confident it will double the brand's sales with about 2500 deliveries a year.

On the road

The 2.0 F-Pace is the better vehicle. Quiet and comfortable, it gets along well and fulfils the brief for a reasonable price — just stay away from the options.

There is the security of the five-year service plan for $1100, which can transfer to a subsequent owner. Families can haul three youngsters or a couple of teens plus chattels.

The F-Pace won't get stuck in a wet paddock and should be great for towing.

Callum says the "fuselage" is typically SUV, endowing heft to the design, space for families and the footprint for grip and compliance — but above the window line, it could easily be a hot hatch.

The V6 sits a little more firmly on the road and performance is cracking good. The downside is a ride that can get quite choppy if the F-Pace is riding on anything bigger than 20-inch wheels, although on our preview drive the 3.0 handled bumps better than the base version.

The engine is the sole difference, which seems strange when it adds $11,000 to the purchase price. Jaguar needs to look at the value angles on the F-Pace, particularly as the German heavyweights reward keen buyers by packaging popular options.

On that score, it costs $850 for an electrically adjustable steering column. It's essential, because manual adjustment is via one of the nastiest, flimsiest plastic adjusters I've struck in a long time.

"It's a Land Rover part. We had no choice," Callum says, admitting it's a flaw.

There are a couple of annoying squeaks in the preview cars, rear vision is not good and smoke issues from the nose of one vehicle after a spirited downhill run on test. Still, there's nothing to ring alarm bells for potential buyers.

Off the road

The F-Pace won't get stuck in a wet paddock and should be great for towing.

Jaguar displays its ability at the preview on a small, straightforward course with a giant steel climbing frame, sandy tracks and creeks to cross.

Jaguar has tapped Land Rover's electronic expertise (perhaps a get-square on the steering adjuster) for the All Surface Progress Control driving package, which allows the car to idle over obstacles, ease into water that goes well up the wheels and keep driving when conventional cars might get hung-up with one wheel off the ground.

It also has hill descent control for sharp declines.