Jaguar has hyped up the fact that the F-PACE is a sports car that also happens to be a practical SUV. We tested this recipe on a trip from Cape Town to Greyton along the N2 highway. It corners without body lean, which is counter-intuitive to its SUV heft. The barriers of grip are beyond that of your average large SUV and it’s the closest example of a sports car in an SUV body that we’ve sampled. The darting nature of the front-end makes it very responsive to steering inputs when you up the pace and the SUV’s body reacts quickly and accurately to sudden changes in direction.
A sporty drive usually comes in tandem with a rather stiff and jittery suspension setup. Thankfully, the F-PACE, much like the XF and XE that it’s based on, rides pristinely. Jaguar’s new suspension design has really improved the dynamism and comfort of modern Jags and the F-PACE is very composed on all surfaces making it a confident car to drive. The 19-inch wheels contribute greatly to the comfortable ride. They are shod with 255/55 profile rubber and the 55 profile certainly allows for a bit more give on rough surfaces. It maybe spoils the overall aesthetics of the vehicle, but if you’re willing to forego a bit of comfort, you can always up the wheels to 20- or even 22-inches.
The 3.0-litre turbodiesel doing duty under the bonnet in this F-PACE has some serious grunt. It’s good for 221 kW and 700 Nm of torque. It makes the F-PACE feel rapid from low down in the rev range and the surge of torque continuously improves acceleration at a rate that not many diesels can match. Fuel consumption is quite good as well with Jaguar claiming 6.0 L/100km