Expert Reviews

Test Drive: 2018 Jaguar F-Pace 20d R-Sport

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
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When it comes to motor vehicles, I am a fattist. Small, sleek, and slender; low and lithe – that’s the way to light my fire. Tall and bulky rigs are a cold shower. Yet I find the 2018 Jaguar F-Pace beautiful. Not, “beautiful for an SUV”, just plain beautiful.

The F-Pace in any guise is a supermodel.

Jaguar’s styling remains its hallmark, and the F-Pace, whether in gas V6 trim, or diesel trim like our tester is a good example.

And, in supercharged V6 trim, the F-Pace has the performance chops to match the striking looks. Alas, our tester was the 180 hp/317 lb-ft 2.0L turbo diesel four-cylinder. It’s a smooth engine from the inside, but obviously a diesel when your window is down in an underground parking lot. Driving all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic, the engine has lethargic throttle response and an adequate, if unsatisfying, amount of grunt. This is, after all, the slowest of all the F-Paces, with the trade-off coming in the form of fuel economy – this diesel is rated at 8.1 L/100 km overall.

The fire-breathing 35T with its 340 hp/332 lb-ft supercharged V6 is a much stronger engine – but it’s also over 30 percent less fuel efficient, with a combined rating of 11.8 L/100 km. The sweet spot for frugal and environmentally conscious types is probably the 296 hp/295 lb-ft 2.0L four-cylinder gas motor. Its 9.9 L/100 km combined fuel rating is 18 percent less efficient – but I’d argue the trade off in fun factor is worth it.

This, of course, is really only a concern for we ham-fisted, lead-footed, impatient types. I suspect that this smooth, frugal drivetrain will satisfy plenty of buyers more interested in comfort, style, and driveability than outright performance. I almost guarantee you though, that those people will turn off the automatic stop/start feature, and that will hurt fuel economy. The restart is harsher and more noticeable than it is in some competitors.

The F-Pace is comfortable. The oyster-and-black two-tone seats are well bolstered and supportive, and the chassis does a good job of dialling out road perfections – surprisingly so. For an SUV as agile and responsive as the F-Pace, ride comfort is superb. Hit an on-ramp with verve and the F-Pace responds with zeal. The four-wheel independent suspension is comprised of a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear. Electric steering is slightly over-boosted and dials out any messages the road surface might have for you, but communicates your own commands quickly and decisively to the 20-inch wheels.

At speed, there is little in the way of road noise or wind noise, and the F-Pace is as well-mannered and unobtrusive as a well-trained English butler. This is a trick chassis, one that hides its athleticism under a layer of smooth coddling, but explodes into action when called upon.

The interior of the F-Pace is gorgeous. Blue mood lighting threads its way around the door trim and over the dashboard, while the pop-up gear selector and red pulsing start–stop button add a sense of theatre to the start-up experience. The virtual instrument cluster and central touchscreen are things of vibrant beauty – but sadly that beauty is skin deep.

Jaguar’s infotainment system continues to suffer from slowness, glitches, and generally bad behaviour. The system itself is not too badly set up, and my overwhelming sense is that the issues I continue to experience are a result of underpowered hardware behind the scenes. The system takes an eon to launch on start up, occasionally goes full black screen, and frequently stutters its way through menus and commands. It remains a significant Achilles heel for the entire JLR lineup.

Spaciousness is another surprise in the F-Pace, with good head, shoulder, and leg room in both rows. If you add the $2,040 Comfort and Convenience package, then rear-seat passengers will enjoy an electrically adjustable reclining seatback that further amplifies their comfort. It’s also a good test for new friends – do they go full gangster lean? Or uptight upright? My daughter went the middle route. I was proud. That same package adds heated and cooled front seats, plus heated rear seats.

The cargo area is a stout 502 L, and while Jaguar hasn’t released an actual number for the maximum volume, the seats fold effortlessly flat with the optional remote rear-seat release levers, and form a cavernous opening that will handle most Ikea runs. You can even open the tailgate via gesture courtesy of the aforementioned Comfort and Convenience pack.

If I’m honest, I struggle to engage with the F-Pace in this configuration. It’s alluring, and well-featured, but the pulsing heart of Jaguar for me lies in machine-gun fire exhaust tuning, breathtaking acceleration, and sheer adrenaline.

The F-Pace in any guise is a supermodel. The F-Pace as a diesel is a supermodel who doesn’t like to go out on weekends. If you’re looking for something gorgeous, and luxurious, with occasional flurries of excitement, the 20d is a good bet. If you want something that sets your pulse racing every single minute – one of the other F-Pace variants will serve you better.

Engine Displacement 2.0L
Engine Cylinders 4
Peak Horsepower 180 hp @ 4,000 rpm
Peak Torque 317 lb-ft @ 1,750–2,500 rpm
Fuel Economy 8.9/7.2/8.1 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb diesel
Cargo Space 508 L
Model Tested 2018 Jaguar F-Pace 20d R-Sport
Base Price $61,000
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,095
Price as Tested $66,185
Optional Equipment
$2,990 – Black Pack R-Sport $510; Comfort and Convenience Pack $2,040; heated front windshield $440