Jaguar hit the bullseye with its first SUV. The F-Pace has good looks and a classy interior, and it proves that you don't need to sacrifice driving excitement when choosing a family-friendly crossover. We liked it so much at launch that we named it our 2016 Car of the Year, and it's still a leading choice in the premium crossover class. It's got competition from the Volvo XC60, and fresher BMW X3 – but the F-Pace remains one of our favourite all-rounders.
The 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel is a punchy performer and R-Sport models look sporty and have all the essential kit. The F-Pace is as luxurious and comfortable as a Jag 4×4 should be, although running costs are a little higher than in rivals. All in all, it makes Jaguar’s first effort in the crossover SUV market a notable success, and global sales have backed this up. Only the slightly low-rent infotainment system really lets it down.
The F-Pace began a new era for Jaguar. Until 2016, people were used to Jaguar selling saloons and sports cars, but the F-Pace was the first SUV for sale from the British manufacturer. However, it still retains the DNA that has made 80 years-worth of sporting models so popular both in the UK and abroad.
Under the skin, the F-Pace shares running gear with the XE and XF models, so engines and gearboxes are shared with these models, but the SUV body means it offers greater practicality than its saloon siblings.
The F-Pace is a front-runner in the mid-sized premium SUV class, where it rivals models such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC. Also worth considering are alternative choices such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Porsche Macan, Lexus NX and Volvo XC60, as well as the Range Rover Velar, which is similar to the F-Pace under the skin. The F-Pace is slightly larger than all of these models, though, so it's more spacious and practical as a family car.
There's a wide range of models available in the F-Pace range. R-Sport trim kicks off the range at around £42,000, although if you want an AWD auto version – which is our preference – you're looking at a starting price of more than £44,000. After R-Sport, there's Portfolio, the special edition Chequered Flag, 300 Sport, F-Pace S and F-Pace SVR. At the top of the range, the SVR is more than £75,000, and even the S model is around £55,000.
All cars are well equipped, though, with a power tailgate, two-zone climate control, auto wipers, heated leather front seats and a sat nav infotainment system with Bluetooth, wi-fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included on every model.
Power mostly comes from Jaguar's four-cylinder Ingenium petrol and diesel engines. The exceptions are the F-Pace S, which gets a 297bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, and the SVR, which uses a 542bhp version of the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 from the F-Type sports car.
The 2.0-litre petrol comes in 247bhp and 296bhp guises and both feature Jag's eight-speed auto transmission and AWD four-wheel drive as standard. There's more variety with the diesels, starting with a 178bhp version which has the eight-speed auto as standard and either rear-wheel drive or AWD. Go for the 237bhp diesel, and it's auto and four-wheel drive as standard, as are the 3.0 S diesel and SVR petrol models.
Overall, the F-Pace is a great-all rounder. It's comfortable even on the large wheel options that are available, but it also handles well, which more than justifies the existence of the rapid SVR model. Fuel economy and emissions aren't quite on a par with rivals, but the sacrifice is worthwhile if you need the extra passenger and luggage space that the F-Pace offers.