The Jaguar F-Pace gets the new generation Ingenium 2.0-litre diesel engine. It’s a high-tech motor and will replace the old 2.2-litre motor from all existing Jaguar Land Rover models. But, we got the familiar 3.0-litre V6, which also does duty on the XJ. As soon as you start the motor you realise that this 2993cc engine is a refined and smooth unit with it settling down at a quiet idle. This common-rail diesel churns out a very impressive 296bhp and a massive 700Nm of max pulling power.
Be it acceleration from a standstill or through the gears, the V6 motor feels right on the money. Throttle response is good for an engine with a big turbo and there is a strong linear surge even when you mash the throttle. The motor is remarkably refined too and even with pedal to the metal driving, the decibel levels in the cabin don’t really go beyond a distant hum.
On an open road, once past 2000rpm, the engine comes into its own and the rush continues to multiply all the way to 4000rpm. As a result, zero to 100kmph takes just 7.45 seconds. But, considering the near 300 horsepower figure and relatively light weight of the F-Pace, we expected a sub-seven second time; especially given that some SUVs with lesser power and more weight have achieved that.
The 8-speed automatic gearbox feels well matched to the characteristics of this V6 motor. It feels laidback and shifts are smooth in normal D-mode. Switch to Sport and it turns into a quick swapping ‘box as it stays in a lower gear for maximum acceleration. You can also use the steering mounted paddle shifters and the gearbox feels obedient and alert in manual mode. However, the downshifts are a wee bit slower in Eco setting.
With the Porsche Macan in its sight, the British marque has gone to great lengths and has thrown the best of technologies it possess to walk the talk. The F-Pace shares its basic architecture with the very impressive XE sedan. Like the sedan more than 80 per cent of the body structure is made up of recycled aluminium. So, the core body weighs in at just 300kg.
Also, to get the weight distribution a near perfect 50:50 front to rear, Jaguar has played with different materials. The bonnet is aluminium, front carrier is magnesium, doors are made up of steel and the entire tailgate is made from plastic composites. Jaguar has also employed integral link independent rear suspension that it claims offers major benefits over conventional multi-link designs by optimising both lateral and longitudinal stiffness.
This results in a car that defies its weight and size. The F-Pace loves corners and it even handles quick directional changes confidently. Plus, the beautifully weighted steering and tight body control further enhance the driving experience. With 90 per cent of the power going to the rear wheels under normal circumstances, the F-Pace can be controlled on throttle as well to alter or correct lines mid corner.
But, before you park the car backwards on top of the mountain bank (with too much throttle a bit too early) the quick acting 4WD system jumps in and gets the orientation back in line. As a result, the F-Pace is both fun and exploitable, at the hands of drivers of varying driving skills. It’s only around the tighter stuff that one can feel the weight of the SUV, say around a tight hairpin for instance, where one does experience some understeer. So, while the F-Pace feels great around sweeping bends, it just can’t match the agility of the Macan around tighter corners.
In most cases, a SUV with sporting pretentions always suffers when you drive over rough road. It is true for the F-Pace too, but it never goes to the point of it feeling uncomfortable. The F-Pace’s ride has an underlying firmness to it, especially over sharp edged bumps, but up the speed and the Jaguar SUV manages to dispatch the occasional rutted surface with authority. But, the ride, even at high speeds, is never flat or plush, not with its rear inclined towards bouncing over undulations. Our test car is the R-Sport variant that doesn’t get adjustable dampers. So, the top of the line First Edition with the fancy dampers might fare better in this regard.