The F-Pace will be the first JLR product to get 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 models. As soon as you start the engine it doesn’t make the greatest of first impressions. It comes to life with some notable shake and shudder, and settles into a gravelly idle and even on the move it is not the quietest of motors. We feel this is a result of Jaguar using aluminium rather than Iron to build the engine block which, though much lighter, is less dense and is nowhere near as good a sound and vibration insulator.
Once on the move the motor smoothens out considerably and the 177.5bhp feels adequate for this 1.8 tonne vehicle. Its delivers power in a smooth, linear manner, rather than with a sudden burst, and it has a lot of elasticity too. Peak torque of 400Nm is produced at 1750rpm, but there’s plenty of shove right from about 1400rpm, and it pulls strongly to about 3800rpm. The power then gradually tails off. On the rare straight stretch we encountered the new motor cruises well too, thanks to the potent 8-speed ZF gearbox with its reasonably tall gearing, and the broad torque spread makes light work of overtaking on highways.
If you want more shove from your sporty SUV then the 3.0 litre V6 diesel ticks all the right boxes. As soon as you start the motor you realise that this 2993cc engine is much more refined and settles down in 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 quite 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, the decibel levels in the cabin don’t really go beyond a distant hum.
With Jaguar openly claiming that the Porsche Macan is its main rival, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the British marque has gone to great lengths 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 at just 300kg. To get the weight distribution a near perfect 50:50 front to rear Jaguar played with different materials – Bonnet is made-up of aluminium, front carrier boasts of magnesium, doors are made up of steel and the entire tailgate is made from plastic composite. Jaguar has also employed Integral link independent rear suspension that claims to offer 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 just loves quick corners and even quick directional changes are super easy thanks to the beautifully weighted steering and great body control. With 90 per cent of the power going to the rear wheels under normal circumstances, the F-Pace especially on the slippery rain-hit tarmac of Montenegro was ready to wag its tail too. But before things get out of control, the quick acting 4WD system sends power to the front wheels to haul you out of the slide which makes the F-Pace quite easy to exploit. It’s only in the tighter stuff that you feel the weight of this SUV as around tight hairpins it induces quite a bit of understeer.
The icing on the cake is the way the F-Pace felt even on the worst of surfaces Montenegro had to offer. It rides with maturity and even bad patches of tarmac is dispatched easily. The F-Pace does have an underlying layer of firmness, but is well judged and it never gets uncomfortable. You also get Eco, Normal and Sport setting to alter the suspension stiffness, gearbox and throttle response. The best part is all these modes are usable in most conditions which makes the F-Pace all the more impressive.