Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class 220d 2016 review
Malcolm Flynn road tests and reviews the Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Marcus Craft road tests and reviews the 2016 Jaguar F-Pace Portfolio diesel with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
“Let’s head up that bumpy, dirty bush road for a bit of a look-see,” said no Jaguar owner ever. Yet that’s just the kind of semi-adventurous spirit Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is hoping to tap into with its tilt at the lucrative luxury SUV market by way of the Jaguar F-Pace.
Jag knows how to make a driver’s car – they’ve been doing it with a reasonable level of success for almost a century, so you’d hope they’d have sorted it out – but they have never made an SUV until now. The fact that their sister company is called Land Rover should help with that, but their timing is challenging, to say the least, because the luxury soft-roader market is swollen with BMW, Lexus, Porsche, Range Rover, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz models. Is our tester – the F-Pace Portfolio 30d AWD – part of a push that’s simply too little, too late? Or is JLR on a winner? Read on.
Our test vehicle has a $91,304 price tag (plus on-road costs) but in reality this purchase will empty more than $120,000 from your offshore bank account if you opt for a stack of gear like heated front seats ($2300), panoramic roof ($4200), four-zone Climate Control ($1800), adaptive cruise control with queue assist ($3200), blind spot monitor, reverse traffic detection ($1120) and more. (Ker-ching!) And it feels decidedly understuffed for the price, at least until you spend that extra dosh to pad out the onboard offerings.
In addition to the gear it shares with its lower-priced stablemate, the Prestige – including the crisp-cool Meridian sound system, 19-inch alloy wheels, 10-way electric front seats with memory, and powered tailgate – the Portfolio gets LED headlights with LED 'J' blade daytime running lights, perforated Windsor leather luxury seats, interior mood lighting, gloss figured ebony veneer, and more.
The F-Pace is a fantastic-looking filly. Outside, from front to back, it is an eye-catching beast with plenty of presence.
The InControl multimedia system is available in Touch form (as standard), or Touch Pro (an upgrade). The standard unit has an eight-inch touchscreen, five-inch Instrument panel display with analogue dials, the aforementioned Meridian Digital Sound System (380W and 11 properly loud speakers), FM Radio and iPod, one USB port, Bluetooth and one Aux connection.
The Pro has 10.2-inch Touchscreen with multi-touch gestures, 12.3-inch Instrument panel display with virtual dials and full screen 3D Map View, Meridian digital sound system (825W, 17 speakers), FM Radio, iPod, Bluetooth and two USB connections, 10GB of usable memory and CD/DVD Drive
There is also a heads-up display option but it costs $2150. (Ker-bloody-ching!)
The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 with 221kW at 4000rpm and 700Nm at 2000rpm is a monster unit; quiet but ruthlessly eager to push the Portfolio onward in a rapid fashion.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox, operated via a simple straight-out-of-a-Land-Rover-Discovery dial, is a slippery smooth transmission worthy of a sonnet.
The engine has Stop/Start and regenerative charging, “harvesting kinetic energy from braking to charge the battery” Jaguar reckons. Designed for maximum economy, especially during urban driving, the stop/start can be a bit jarring and we had a couple of pronounced pauses before take-off at traffic lights, which is never a pleasant experience for your underwear.
The F-Pace is lightweight, sleek and oh-so-good-looking; photos alone really cannot do this vehicle justice. Of all of the hundreds of 4WDs and SUVs I have tested over the years, this one attracted the most goggle-eyed, head-turners and upfront, out-of-nowhere approaches I have ever experienced. People just love it.
Here’s a quick approximation of an exchange I had with a bloke who called out to me as I slid into the Jag.
Bloke: “Ah, sh*t, mate! That thing’s f***ing great. Can I come for a drive?”
Me (adopting a British accent): “No, and, by Jove, the correct term in this instance is ‘may’ not ‘can’, you heathen.”
Bloke: “Er, may I come for a drive then?”
Me: “No!” (Looking for my butler/driver, who does not actually exist.) “Jeeves, Jeeves! Loose the hounds upon this dreadful fellow!”
This never happens when I’m in a Mitsubishi. Ever.
I can’t blame him for having a try, though, because the F-Pace is a fantastic-looking filly. Outside, from front to back, it is an eye-catching beast with plenty of presence and proof that Jaguar’s designer, Ian Callum, really could make just about anything look desirable.
The Jag’s signature J blade daytime running lights carve up and back to send your eye on a journey of vehicular lust, along slick, hard-edged lines, over sporty curves and all the way back to a chunky, F-Type rear end, tilting ever so gently upwards. It’s like a big 4WD has “had relations” with a sports car, and this is the great-looking bastard offspring.
Inside, that love child loses out, however. The interior looks nice (cool ebony veneer, suave touches like metal trim on the auto dial and instrument panel) and comfy (deep, inviting leather seats) but it also feels a bit plain for a luxury SUV. It certainly can’t hold a candle to rivals like the Range Rover Sport or Audi Q7 in the looks department.
Cheap-looking plastic around the cabin’s interior, particularly on the steering wheel and window sill, spoil any overall impression of class that Jag is attempting, which is disappointing for a car company that has nailed sophisticated interiors in the past.
Daily driving is a treat in the Portfolio. The steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable and loaded with the usual controls: Bluetooth, cruise control etc. Our tester had the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with the Meridian audio, a great combination of easy-to-use 12.3-inch touchscreen with bright clear colours and crisp sound.
While the interior may be on the wrong side of plain, it is still very comfortable, especially for the driver and front-seat passenger. The pews are super supportive.
Niggle 1: the buttons to operate the windows are high up and towards the front of the window sill, oddly positioned and mildly annoying. The switches also felt a bit flimsy.
Jag cites figures of 945mm and 65mm for back, leg and knee room in the rear seat but in reality it’s a bit of a squeeze – pity the fool who sits in the middle seat because there’s very little leg room and what seems like a giant mole under the floor carpet; or maybe it’s just the transmission.
The rear seats are a 40:20:40 split and, with them down, load space is 1740 litres. With the rear seats where they belong, load space is 508 litres with the space-saver spare in place. With the full-size spare onboard, there’s another giant mole under the floor carpet.
The Jag has a low loading height and a tailgate that opens wide for easy access.
Our Portfolio had the optional panoramic glass roof, which is a nifty touch. Mood lighting, another option, can be configured to throw “soft pools of light” in a choice of 10 different colours around the cabin. Apparently there is no setting for ‘Roadrage Angry!’
Another nice option is the Activity Key, basically a FitBit-looking wristband that gives you the ability to open the F-Pace without having the keys on you; you simply touch the wristband to the J in the Jaguar badge on the tailgate and you’re in. People who like to take their F-Pace to the beach, or their triathlon course, will love this.
The Portfolio has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
All F-Pace variants have torque vectoring via dynamic stability control, braking, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, All Surface Progress Control traction control, tyre-pressure monitoring, front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, trailer stability assist, and a reversing camera.
Optional safety gear includes Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitor, Reverse Traffic Detection (alerts you via the Touch-screen of moving vehicles while you reverse), Adaptive Cruise Control, Park Assist (steering the F-Pace into a tricky parking spot for you) and a Surround Camera System, which provides a 360° exterior view on the Touchscreen.
The Portfolio 30d is claimed to use 6.0L/100km (combined). We saw a 9.3 on the dash after mixed driving, which suggests you should easily be able to get about 710km between fills of the 66-litre fuel tank.
Jaguar has made a few good driver’s cars in the past, but has the marriage of Jaguar and Land Rover made a good driver’s SUV? Well, the Portfolio is quick off the mark like a smacked horse. It goes from 0 to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds. Decent.
It weighs about 1884kg – thanks to its “lightweight aluminium architecture” – but it has real presence on the road. It also manages to blend dynamic performance, high-level driver comfort and slick ride and handling into a want-more experience.
This F-Pace is a solid, stable yet fun thing to drive. It’s not a bulky SUV – it is low slung and does not body roll its way around every corner you throw it at.
The engine has a gutful of grunt and works well with the eight-speed auto. You can use JaguarDrive Control in Dynamic Mode for sporty driving and Eco Mode for improved efficiency and to impress your mother-in-law with how lovey-dovey mother earth you are.
Switch to Rain Ice Snow Mode to maximise the Portfolio’s all-wheel drive skills on gravel roads and such.
Steering is well weighted but not perfectly so, lacking a pinpoint preciseness. Gear changes can be made via paddles on the steering wheel. It is 1652mm high, 2175 wide (with mirrors out) and 4731mm long. Turning circle is 11.87m.
Suspension is double-wishbone at the front and integral links down the back.
The optional Configurable Dynamics system allows the owner to set up F‑Pace's dynamics for throttle mapping, gearbox shift points and steering. If Adaptive Dynamics (another option) is fitted, damper settings can also be configured.
Our drive included bitumen, back roads and gravel trails. You can throw 19-inch or 20-inch rubber on the Portfolio and we were only ever jolted and rattled while driving along some potholed bush tracks.
Niggle 2: The design at the back end brings to mind the Evoque’s and, sure enough, you have about as much visibility out the back window of this as you do in the Evoque, which is virtually none. No one said being pretty was easy.
Scheduled servicing up to five years or 100,000km; $1750 at 26,000km (first year of ownership), 54,000km (second), 78,000km (third) and 104,000km (fourth) and 130,000km (fifth year of ownership).
The Portfolio is a great-looking, great-driving luxury SUV, somewhat let down by its interior, which is a big surprise from a company that makes both Range Rovers and cars like the Jaguar F-Type. It is impressive, though, and great if you want strangers to stare at and admire you. Overall, it’s a decent first crack at one of these, but it lacks the all-round sophistication of its rivals.
|20D Prestige||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$54,555 – 56,990||2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 20D Prestige Pricing and Specs|
|20D R-Sport||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$53,488 – 64,985||2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 20D R-Sport Pricing and Specs|
|30D First Edition||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$86,680 – 99,660||2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 30D First Edition Pricing and Specs|
|30D Portfolio||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$67,540 – 77,660||2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 30D Portfolio Pricing and Specs|