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The Top Gear car review:Jaguar F-Pace
For:Slick infotainment system, refinement, design, composed handling
Against:Not for off-roading, some rivals are a bit sharper to drive
What is it?
It’s the Jaguar F-Pace, the first Jag infused with a few drops of Land Rover DNA. Yes, Jag’s first SUV toes a very different line to its rough and tumble sister company, in the hope it won’t steal sales. Though the new Range Rover Velar is related and very close in concept…
The F-Pace, though, comes with rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive options. The latter is part-time, so it’s rear-drive in normal situations, only sending up to 50 per cent of the power to the front tyres when they’re scrabbling for grip.
It has 213mm of ground clearance (the same as a Discovery Sport) and a wading depth of 525mm (175mm less than the Disco), so it’ll get you safely to your country cottage in a storm, but the focus is very much on being practical, fun to drive and seductive to look at, not the first choice for expeditions through the Amazon.
The engine and transmission range is nicely broad. There are petrol and diesel engines, both available with four- and six-cylinder engines and with a dizzying amount of power outputs. So you can have a 161bhp manual RWD diesel, a 375bhp auto AWD petrol, and everything in between. We’d always favour the larger engines, which make far less fuss of moving around the F-Pace’s circa 1.7 tonnes, but some of the four-cylinders are pretty good, if a bit uninvolving. Full involvement will come when a rip-roaring V8 SVR version arrives in due course.
You might also have noticed the Jaguar E-Pace, a cheaper, more attainable Jag crossover. But the F-Pace is a more successful car – it drives better, nails its brief with more accuracy and actually weighs about the same. If you can stretch to an F-Pace, it’s going to be a far better family car.
Though because it’s a crossover, it’s a natural assumption the F-Pace will be your stepping stone between your home and a crazy windsurfing adventure. Enter the nerdy ‘Activity Key’. Add an extra £300 to your bill and you’ll get a wristband that locks and unlocks the car, allowing you to indulge in extreme activities without worrying about key loss.
You must leave the real key inside (the wristband won’t start the engine) and you’ll potentially look a bit of a dweeb as you waggle your hand across the boot lid to lock it, but it actually works really well – if you dare leave the real key inside and trust the tech. Might be better built into an actual watch, though.