Each time a Jaguar F-Pace drives by, I can't help but take another look. It's a seriously good-looking SUV, and arguably one of the best-looking SUVs in the segment.
The F-Pace pairs Jaguar's aggressive sports car styling with the practicality of an SUV, which is what makes it stand out in the premium-SUV segment.
It's available with seven engine/drivetrain configurations and 19 variants, so it's not hard to see why punters are confused when they walk into a Jaguar dealership to potentially order one.
The entire range kicks off from $77,392 (plus on-road costs) for the rear-wheel-drive 20t R-Sport model, and climbs all the way through to $140,262 (plus on-road costs) for the fire-breathing F-Pace SVR.
The vehicle tested here is the $86,457 (plus on-road costs) 30t R-Sport model. It's powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque.
It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and it consumes 7.7 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle and requires a minimum 95RON fuel.
This is the sweet spot in the range because it delivers excellent fuel economy, it comes with a reasonable asking price, but still offers the sporty punch of a turbocharged petrol engine, making it the best of both worlds.
A midlife model change in 2019 introduced extra standard equipment, including a 10.0-inch InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, an enhanced autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system that works up to 160km/h, a new frameless rear-view mirror, illuminated metal tread plates, bright metal pedals, premium carpet mats, suede-cloth headlining, chrome seat switches on the standard 10-way adjustable seats, along with carbon-fibre door trim inserts.
Petrol variants also received a bigger fuel tank, bumping capacity up from 63L to 82L.
The interior of the F-Pace is a nice place to be. But, it's kind of like being inside a renovated home that the owner has chosen to pick cheap fittings for.
For some reason, the updated XE received the elegant steering wheel from the I-Pace, along with Jaguar's dual-screen InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. The F-Pace holds on to the cheap-feeling buttons on the steering wheel, plastic switchgear around the climate controls, and the rotating gear lever.
These elements combine to bring down the premium feel you should expect from the interior of a Jaguar. It's certainly not drab or cheap feeling, but doesn't fit with the latest batch of Jaguar's vehicles that feel like proper luxury vehicles.
If you put the materials to one side, the fit and finish are excellent, and usability of the infotainment and vehicle technology is great. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both now standard, which extends the functionality of the infotainment system.
Unlike our Jaguar I-Pace long-termer, the infotainment system feels a little snappier and quicker to navigate through the menus. It's still not quite as sharp as we'd like it to be, and suggests that it may need some more grunt behind the scenes to cope with continuous command inputs.
With that said, the voice-recognition system is pretty good and works with a range of standard command inputs.
The standard 11-speaker sound system is good, but can be upgraded to a more powerful Meridian 17-speaker sound system for around $1000. Connectivity around the cabin is great, with an additional two fast-charging USB ports in the rear to keep the kids' devices running. Curiously, DAB+ digital radio is a $950 option, despite being standard on most modern cars on the market.
Leg and head room in the second row are good, but I found knee room to be a little cramped if the driver's seat is most of the way back. The centre armrest folds down to offer two cup holders, with ISOFIX points available on the two outboard seats.
The second row folds in a 40/20/40 split-folding configuration, with a space-saver spare tyre living beneath the cargo floor. It's worth noting that a full-sized spare tyre can be optioned and fits within the floor cavity if required.
There's 508L of cargo capacity available in the boot, which expands to 1740L when the second row is folded out of the way. In comparison to its peers, it's slightly less than the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC (550L).
When you first see the F-Pace, it's not hard to assume it's going to ride firmly. Sporty-looking car and 19-inch alloy wheels, it's pretty much the recipe for a firm-riding SUV. Unlike some of its competitors in the segment, Jaguar has been able to engineer the F-Pace's ride to offer both sportiness and comfort.
The front end features a double-wishbone suspension set-up, while the rear uses a multi-link set-up that Jaguar calls the 'Integral Link'. It features aluminium components and a greater level of stiffness that offers further dynamic tuning in comparison to other cars in this segment.
Adaptive dampers can be optioned as part of the Adaptive Dynamics Pack, but it's really unnecessary given the plushness of the ride on offer.
Steering feel is good thanks to a sportier tune on the electrically assisted steering rack, but we found it to be a little too heavy at times, especially at low speeds when trying to park or manoeuvre in tight spaces.
On that token, visibility out of the cabin is good, with big enough wing mirrors that offer visibility around the car. The reversing camera is high quality, but as is the case with a lot of Jaguar vehicles, a 360-degree camera is an optional extra.
What exactly do you lose when optioning the smaller four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine instead of the bigger supercharged six-cylinder unit? Well, not a great deal to be honest. You obviously get less power and torque, but peak torque from the four-cylinder is available from 1500–4500rpm, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox does a great job of servicing torque requirements without hunting through the gears.
It has a certain raspy note to it, too, when the gearbox is locked into its Sport mode. It's not F-Type loud, but still loud enough to be fun.
Weighing in at just over 1700kg, the F-Pace is fairly light for an SUV this size. That means it's easy enough to throw around and have fun with. The steering is sharp enough, with adequate feel to really enjoy the F-Pace as a driver's car. A lot of the SUVs that crowd this segment claim to offer driving dynamics, but none of them really deliver them as well as the F-Pace does.
Sitting on 255mm-wide tyres all round, there's plenty of grip on offer to confidently have fun. Locked into the car's Sport mode (selected using the drive modes beneath the gearshifter), the gearbox will hold gears for longer and have preceding gears ready for selection.
While you're not going to be hitting the racetrack in this grade of F-Pace, it's just the brakes that could do with a bit more meat. They provide adequate stopping power, but will begin to fade if you keep calling on them. Again, only really an issue if you're constantly on it.
In terms of fuel economy on test, the official consumption figure of 7.7L/100km is a little ambitious. We managed to clock just under 10L/100km with the majority of driving in and around the city.
Jaguar only offers the F-Pace with a three-year, 100,000km warranty, but the running costs are reduced thanks to an upfront service plan that costs $1750 over five years (130,000km), which includes servicing every two years or 34,000km.
So, should you spend your money on a Jaguar SUV? We think they represent pretty good value for money, but that's before you start ticking option boxes. If your dealer is able to offer you some options inclusive of the price, or perhaps has floor stock with some of the basics ticked, you'll be set to go.
The F-Pace is a great alternative to what is becoming somewhat of a vanilla luxury-SUV segment, especially with this piping four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.